Inspiration. As writers, we constantly seek inspiration to perform our craft. We want to blow away readers with something incredible – a fantastic never-told story, an intriguing blog post concept or a new theory that makes people pay attention. We want our words to change the world.
And yet, as writers, we struggle. We can’t find inspiration, or we grab it only to have it wriggle out of our grasp. It’s lost, and we have to find it again.
It seems all has been said, and all has been done. There’s nothing new under the sun. What on earth can we write about? Where can we find the inspiration to write?
Relax, Don’t Do It
Falling into that rut is a problem. Writers tend to create self-inflicted personal standards that we can’t reach. We force ourselves to reach impossible goals, and we end up giving ourselves performance anxiety. Inspiration becomes a goal that escapes us, or sometimes overwhelms us. It’s all we can think about.
By pushing ourselves hard to find inspiration, we drive ourselves into a mental traffic jam that goes nowhere. We tire our brains seeking immediate inspiration the minute we sit down to write, and we wear ourselves down by rejecting anything less than mind-blowing.
What’s the solution? How to we go about finding the writing inspiration we need?
Achieving inspiration means forgetting about it completely. Instead of seeking it out, we need to disconnect from the quest and sever our continual self-hounding to find the right answer, the ultimate story, the perfect angle.
Of course, there are the usual common-sense solutions to finding inspiration. Take a break. Go for a walk. Read a book. Play music. Give your brain something else to do. Walk away from the incessant hunt for inspiration.
Let inspiration sneak up on its own until it leaps out in a sudden burst of idea.
Can it Really Be That Simple?
Does that sound too simple or counter-productive? Keep in mind that most inspired ideas came along quite by creative accident. They weren’t found – they happened. Faced with the need to find solutions, people gave up their attempts to find the answer in search of new, innovative ways to resolve issues.
That’s how most of history’s greatest inventions came about: by complete accident. A good thing, too, because if our world’s innovators hadn’t pursued unexplored territory or followed crazy ideas where they led, we may not have had much of what we take for granted today.
Do the same. Drop your current methods. Forget the search for inspiration. Remember that the obvious path isn’t always the best. Take matters out of context and dump them into a new situation, something completely wild and crazy.
Ask yourself, “What if?” Then start writing.
Struggling with a scene in your novel? Forget what you’re trying to accomplish. What if your character did something completely unexpected instead? What if she stood up and yelled, “Cows!” at the top of her lungs? What if he picked up a book and threw it at the window? What if one day, the sky turned red – and stayed that way?
Frustrated with the right tone for some non-fiction copy? Try a new voice. What if secret agents ran the company you need to write for? Are they corporate? Write them into baseball caps and sweats instead. What would their website copy sound like then?
The point is not to take these crazy ideas and hand them to your agent or your client. Not at all. The point is to unblock your mind by doing something completely different. Changing the context of what you attempt hands you the keys to creative inspiration.
Suddenly the perfect scene hits, all the right words fall into place, and you’re scribbling away in a mad burst of inspiration. Where did you find that inspiration?
In the most unlikely place, one you’d never considered exploring. Who knows where it may lead?