10 Pathways to Inspired Writing

image of inspired woman

As writers, inspiration is one of the most important of the criteria for success. Without it, well, our writing ends up pretty lame.

A huge percentage of blogs see their demise before the six month milestone. Why?

Because people don’t know what to write about – writing becomes a chore and when that happens, you might as well seal it in. Here are 10 ways to become a more motivated, effective, and inspired online writer.

1. More books, fewer blogs

We all like blogs because they’re easy to digest, and we can come and go as we please and read from start to finish in a few minutes. We are also inherently reactive people, and blogs allow us to communicate and discuss with others immediately.

Books, however, contain scores of ideas not being dealt with in the blogosphere, and I guarantee if you take a weekend to read a book from start to finish, you’ll be chock full of writing material for weeks following. Take notes, “react” with yourself as you read, and pick up a book instead of only depending on Google Reader.

2. Listen to albums from beginning to end

Music is one of THE biggest sources of inspiration for yours truly – there’s something about the “right” song that can have you from feeling brain-dead with writers block to painting masterpieces like Michelangelo. What a lot of us, especially with modern technology, no longer do is listen to an album from start to finish.

Not only buy the entire album from an artist, but also listen to each song in order. Musicians are artists who usually order the track listings intentionally. Albums tell a story, they paint a picture; and isn’t that what we want to do as writers with our blogs?

3. Surround yourself with mentors

I use the word “mentor” loosely. I’ve never been a fan of choosing a single person as a mentor. Instead, I tend to surround myself with multiple “indirect” mentors – people I admire and respect; individuals who motivate and inspire me to be at my best; friends who challenge, question, and push me to think in new ways.

There’s truth in the old adage of you are the company you keep. So surround yourself with good company and you’re almost guaranteed to be a more inspired individual.

4. Cut out the negativity

While you surround yourself with amazing and inspiring mentors, go ahead and cut out the negativity – the dream zappers and naysayers who are intent on bringing you down to their level. You don’t need people like that in your life. Embellish the positive and diminish the negative in everything you do. You’ll be a much happier and fulfilled person if you have the right attitude.

5. Experiment with new mediums

Experimentation is probably the most important takeaway. In blogging, social networking, and everything else you do, if you’re not experimenting and pushing the envelope, you’re not maximizing your potential. As a writer, you have a gift for telling a story, so focus on telling that story in new ways. Use video, write an ebook, start a Guest Blog Grand Tour and let others challenge you to write about new topics. Keep hustling and growing.

6. Read blogs outside of your niche

If you write about social media, are you only reading inside the echo chamber? Why? Doing this exclusively becomes mind numbing. While I agree that you need to keep up with other writers in your field, take time to partake of completely unrelated sources. I read blogs about cooking, sports, PR, and music, to name a few.

They may not have anything to do with my “lifestyle design” genre of writing, but I can almost always walk away with a post idea inspired by something I’ve read. The best writers are those who can spot the intersection between different topics to reach a wider audience

7. Put yourself (literally) in new environments

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty terrible at getting things done when I’m sitting at home in my PJs. I’m most productive, and usually put together my best writing, when I find a comfy seat at the local coffee shop or settle into a nook with my headphones on in the back of a library. There’s something about surrounding yourself with caffeine and good books that works wonders. Opt for the local coffee joint over the living room when you have the chance.

8. Don’t be a slave to trends

Getting back to the fact that “we are inherently reactive people,” we like to follow trends, don’t we? How many “resolution” posts did you see the last couple weeks last December? Keep an eye on what people are doing, but push yourself to break away and set the trends. Simply become more proactive in everything you do.

9. Never underestimate the power of “unplugging”

OK, I lied. The experimentation I list as pathway 5 is an important takeaway, but the following is the most important for me. With Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Reader, Email, Itunes, Instant Messaging, and so on – there is a virtually limitless number of distractions out there. When I need to really focus and I want to put out my very best writing, I force myself to unplug.

Even now, as I write this, I’m sitting in a lake house with no internet. It is AMAZING what you can accomplish when you take time to unplug and “become one” with your writing. Set a specific day every week that you can disconnect and take time for yourself.

10. Have patience

Writing a masterpiece isn’t going to happen overnight. Bloggers get burned out because they start strong and then fizzle when the world doesn’t beat an immediate path to them. Above all, a strong community grounded in quality content takes time to develop, but as long as you are passionate about writing, the rest falls into place. Focus intently on creating exceptional content and reach out to others to share, and great things do indeed happen.

As a writer, what would you encourage the rest of us to do to maximize our writing potential and find inspiration?

About the Author: Matt Cheuvront is an Internet Marketing Developer by day the master of ceremonies over at Life Without Pants. Follow him on Twitter to keep in touch!

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Comments

  1. Awesome tips, as someone who never thought they’d run a blog, let alone start commenting on others, these have all fueled me at one time or another, especially unplugging and surrounding myself with mentors. I’m 220 something days in at my project site and just launched a new site geared toward giving away free support for freelancers and entrepreneurs…enjoying it!

  2. Really True Matt, patience is required on top of all. A blog is not a build it and they will come kind of option.
    Good to know the 6 month criteria, I passed that exam..
    Also books and mentors are something who will cover the A to Zee of a topic and make you an expert, where as blogposts are small nuggets that keep refreshing them.

  3. Thank you for this post! Reading through these, they all seem like commonsense, but often those are the things you let fall by the way side.

    The best way I find to unplug is to write everything out by hand: it eliminates distractions found on my computer, helps me get it all down without the temptation of quick self-editing, and when I type it up, I edit as I go. It’s usually the simplest things that solve the biggest problems.

  4. Great tips. I especially like the one about listening to an album from start to finish. Even it is instrumental I think that music, when you are completely immersed in it, can open up your creative channel and the ideas start flowing.

  5. That was a really good post. It felt like the overall tone was to reconnect to the world outside the speed of the internet again.

    Especially what you said about music really kicked in. To listen to a whole album. Indeed they often tell a story and listening to just one or a few is not the same as the experience of the whole piece.

  6. The ‘Guest Blog Grand Tour’ is such a neat idea :D

    I agree with you on reading books. I think reading books regularly is perhaps one of the most powerful things a blogger can do to improve their blog.

    Lots of interesting things here, nice post.

  7. I am a huge fan of reading books for inspiration. I tend to really like business books that include a lot of case studies as it makes me think about how I could apply the principles in other scenarios (which, of course, could make a great blog article). In addition, the more I read, the more I come across common themes that I can then reinterpret in my own way.

  8. Intersection of different ideas – yes! When I work with writing clients, or an essay is forming in my mind, it is always this intersection – this point of connection – that I search for. The intersecting landscape is rich with metaphor and meaning.

    And, changing your environment – yes! One of the best ways to create new habits, change old paradigms, and rediscover original thought.

    Thanks! A great list!

  9. I don’t read enough books anymore so that one made me think, and I have 3 books on my shelf I have been meaning to read…

    Negativity: I have been wrapped up in that in previous months, but I took a few days off from blogging to gather myself and regain my composure, and I feel much better now.

  10. These are all great suggestions. During my brief time blogging (8 months ~ I made it past the 6 month point, yes!), I’ve unintentionally put most of them into practice. Glad to know that I’m doing something right!

  11. The No. 1 point is truly No. 1. Reading books is the best way to gain ideas to write in your blog. There are books on virtually every subject present and your blog posts will have more meaning and more value in the content.

  12. Sensational tips Matt.

    I follow most of them; from working/writing in the library, to removing negative influences, to unplugging.

    I’m big on shutting the computer down, turning the lights off, and sitting in a quiet room at least once a day. A relaxed mind tends to become an inspired mind. I allow the clutter and lack of creativity to fade away and ideas flow to me by the boatload. I churned out my 2nd ebook of quotes in 2 days (30 plus pages) using the shut-it-down-inspire method.

  13. Andrew Billmann :

    I sometimes take the “unplug” concept even further, opting for ONLY a pad of paper and a pencil. For me, a pencil works better than a pen, mostly because we were all taught as children that “a pen is permanent.” Conversely, the mere presence of an eraser, even if I never use it, provides so much more freedom.

  14. Thanks Matt. I read a lot and got rid of my TV. That was a tough one (and probably not permanent) but it’s been six years now. For me the coffee shop has been my friend, and TV watching stole a lot of my time and cluttered my mind with lots of junk. It’s a sacrifice but I watch movies on my laptop. Thanks for the post.

  15. How fantastic to find you here Matt! :) Great post as always. One thing I got from this that I hadn’t thought of before was reading more blogs outside my niche…I will take that on board.

  16. Great article and really hits home for me. As a copywriter, I sometimes lose my inspiration and feel zapped when it comes to my commercial writing. I love to read, and definitely feel energized on a creative level after I read. I also agree about losing the negativity and surrounding yourself with positive people. As a freelancer, I hear a lot of negative comments and I choose to ignore. It’s all about putting out positive energy to the Universe and being in the present moment – just taking it one step at a time and not giving up!

  17. Great blog post. I am a recent subscriber to Copyblogger and it has quickly become one of my favorite emails to read.

    Your best points are #9 and #10. I like #1 to a point, but disagree that you need to read only books to find inspirational content. I think the bigger problem is the second portion – “fewer blogs”. Part of the problem I think is that people do not stop and think/reflect after reading a blog. They believe that simply because they are shorter, they can go from blog to blog and don’t absorb the contents and think about the different angles of the issues like they would if they picked up a leadership book or even a classic novel.

    If more people asked the questions in the blog rather than just dutifully reporting on whatever the latest trend is, they might find that inspired writing sweet spot. I get much more of a response and feeling that something is good writing when I stop, think, rewrite sections and ask questions rather than spelling everything out for my audience.

  18. Awesome post, Matt.

    I definitely agree with you about the coffee shop – for some reason, I find that to be one of the most stimulating and creative environment. Conversely, I sometimes find that taking long walks in nature, where that is my first priority, will magically allow an idea to sprout.

  19. Unplugging is my favorite here… amazing what a few hours at an unplugged art museum or the beach or just outside will do for me.

    That’s why it’s called re-creation.

  20. Very good points, especially about finding other places to write. I do my very best writing, commercial and personal, at a picnic bench at one of our local parks. There’s trees and squirrels and kids running around and everything there is at a public park. A nice lake, the works. And I don’t have a wireless card, so there’s no Internet, and I can sit there and write and write and write. I advise anyone to take their laptop and make themselves mobile as often as they can. The local library is also good..and most of them now have free wifi!

  21. Welcome to the 3rd Tribe Matt.

    I agree with everything you’ve said, especially point #5 – Experiment with new mediums.

    I’d like to invite everyone reading this to simply click on my name and experience the most addictive new writing medium out there. It will take your writing places you never expected, AND help with your normal writing projects, too.
    Regards,
    Shane

  22. Hey Matt,

    An inspired list ;)

    I’ll add:

    #11: Have Fun

    When you “work,” you don’t let 100% of yourself through. You’re creating more with your mind, less with your soul, heart, passion.

    But when you’re in the heartset of playing rather than working, inspired ideas and content will just flow out.

    Even if what you’re writing is practical, useful information that others would even be willing to pay for, the writing itself will be the most content-rich and inspired if you were in a state of joy creating it.

    If you have fun creating, chances are others will have fun consuming.

    To having fun, and turning “work” into play,
    Oleg

  23. Matt:

    You have a gift for writing: this is a lovely guest post. Thanks. I think we all appreciate your input.

    There is certainly an iota of truth to all the points you have mentioned. Here are a few more ideas to play around with:

    It can be helpful to read books from a variety of disciplines. Spread your horizons wide. I started out reading books about the arts and humanities, but now I find myself equally fascinated by the social sciences. One of my goals is also to dabble with physics and mathematics. Everything you touch can become fascinating if you put your mind to it. Be curious. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Explore, take risks, experiment.

    This multi-disciplinary perspective can sometimes lead to a cross-pollination of ideas, and it is possible to come up with something entirely new. And we should be concerned about novelty, because new ideas are hard to find. This is sort of like the principle of synergy: 1+1=3! Try it out. It only takes one path-breaking idea to start a revolution. One creative idea can jump-start a new product/service.

    I also think writers and other creative people tend to underestimate the benefits of physical exertion. You don’t necessarily have to work out in the gym every single day. I find it is much better to go for a casual stroll in the outdoors. Better yet, go swimming if you get the chance. I have received some of my best ideas as a writer doing manual labor. Tap into the inherent wisdom of your body, keep your body moving, and it can help jump-start your mind. I don’t know about you, but this always seems to have worked for me. Time and again, I am amazed how bright and alert I feel after exercise–almost a miracle. The mind-body connection is a reality to be experienced.

  24. Great advice, I loved the one about reading. I’m thinking of a next book. Thanks, great work

  25. Shane’s right… creativecopychallenge is addicting… sometimes I have to slap my hand and finish what I’m doing before I start it.

  26. Matthew Cheuvront :

    First off, thank you all for the comments thus far. Great to hear what all of you do to find writing inspiration!

    @Robert – Unplugging and surrounding yourself with other forward thinking people works wonders.

    @Chanda – You’d be amazed (or maybe you wouldn’t) on the number of blogs that sputter out before 3-6 months of existence. I’ve been there before myself. Congrats on your success!

    @Melanie – Not Rocket Science, but much of this is often forgotten or rarely tapped into, we can always use a reminder sometimes, eh? Shutting down everything else on the computer and focusing 100% on writing is something I believe in 100%.

    @Jon – I am a big believer in the music piece of my post above. My fiance always wants to skip around a CD and I tell her, at least on first listen, to go from beginning to end and take it all in.

    @Annemieke – YES! Music does tell an amazing story – something we can always relate back to as writers.

    @Bamboo Forest – Guest Blog Grand Tour has been awesome, met some amazing new people and have really been challenged in new ways as a writer. Highly recommend it.

    @Cathy – I’m trying to do more and more of this (books over blogs) – a lot to be said for unplugging from the web and reading a good book.

    @Page – I’m a big fan of getting out of the house and doing some writing/work at a local coffee shop. That change of scenerey can really fuel my inspiration.

    @Keith – Sometimes we need to take some time to step back. No doubt when you come back you’ll feel much more refreshed.

    @Roseanne – Congrats on passing the “6 month milestone” – an accomplishment in it of itself, to be sure. Good luck to you in the future!

    @Kevin – Agreed. I’m a big note-taker when I read and I always walk away with a slew of new ideas after reading a good book.

    @Ryan – THANKS! Relaxing the mind is important. In a hectic world where we are constantly inundated with new content, you have to take some time to unplug and recharge.

    @Andrew – Same here! I have notebooks filled with (mostly chicken scratches) – drafted posts and ideas. Big fan of writing things out by hand first.

    @Jim – I’m never productive with the TV on – Music is good, but sometimes silence is the best recipie for success.

    @Jen – Ah, my first familiar face. Thanks so much for the comment. Cheers!

    @Therese – Thanks! Avoiding negativity is easier said than done, but can be a total mind zap. Hope you and I can connect! Us freelancers have to stick together!

    @Connie – I COMPLETELY agree with you. If you stop by my blog, I almost always objectively ask questions. I want each post to be a conversation – that’s how learning really takes place.

    @Christine – Coffee shops are great – make yourself an awesome playlist, head down to the local coffee shop, grab your favorite latte, and focus 100% on writing. Thanks for coming by buddy!

    @Anne – Indeed. Get offline to find online inspiration.

    @Sandy – Libraries are great – my productivity goes way up when I get out of the house and change scenery a bit. Thanks for the comment!

    @Shane – Very cool project with the Creative Copy Challenge. And thanks for the welcome!

  27. Really amazing post. I can relate to some of these already. Over the past few weeks I had come into a sort of brick wall with writing. So I decided to get off my computer and go into my city centre with my notepad.

    I would say I have written some of my best posts using this method. Surrounding myself with new places and associating my writing with something I enjoy. Like getting a cup of coffee, a nice breakfast or even a couple of beers.

  28. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Oleg – Couldn’t agree more. As long as you are having fun and love what you do, the rest will fall into place. Cheers!

    @Archan – Thank you very much for the kind words. Your point about NEVER being afraid to ask questions is spot on. That is the number one way to learn and grow! Also, I love what you say about the mind-body connection and I completely agree – that’s something I am really trying to tap more into myself. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

    @Michal – Thank you sir. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  29. Matt,
    I totally agree with all points and it have been unknowingly following most of them.
    Reading and music are my muses as well. And if I can’t get silence for at least 1 hour a day I’m zapped.
    And getting rid of the negative is the MOST important piece of anyone’s success. Naysayers can kill a dream.
    Thanks for putting it all in one post!

  30. Reading and Brainstorming. It’s amazing what ideas you get when you open yourself up. Sometimes it’s just taking a new approach to an old idea. Anything that can get the creative juices flowing.

    I tend to find a nice, quiet spot and start jotting down topics. Something that others might like and have an interest in. It’s a part of the process that I love and enjoy. It keeps me going for another 20 miles. It’s like a jolt of energy that’s refreshing and needed!

  31. As a former high school English teacher, I love your first comment about taking notes and “reacting with yourself” as you read. You’re talking about reading actively as opposed to passively, about thinking about the text rather than just moving your eyes over it. Students ALWAYS complained when they were assigned to take notes as they read, but I kept requiring it because it really got them thinking, questioning, and connecting.

  32. Great ideas! I would add one more… that is, block off time to write. For me mornings are usually best where I give myself a block of 1-2 hours for writing (no email, no Internet, no distractions). I write whatever comes out! Sometimes it’s for a blog post, new or editing… other times it’s not blog related.

  33. I enjoyed this article.

    I read a variety of books and can notice in my writing when my reading has narrowed. An intersection of topics is key to come up with new insights.

  34. Absolutely spot on, especially with the experimentation, and reading outside your niche. As a journalist most of my blogs were about media navel gazing, but I’ve added some new ones on design, music (and copyblogger!) and it’s increased my influences ten fold.
    Love it!

  35. Thanks for the great tips Matthew
    Anything where you are being creative has its up and downs. I find that if I’m not taking in the thoughts of others and researching what other people are saying my well of inspiration soon dries up.
    Also have a different writing and publishing schedule has been a key to consistency over the long term.

  36. #7 and #9 are both critical for me. I’ve got to take myself out of the tiny little radius of the laptop to get my batteries recharged.

    Thus, I am in Paris at the moment, while Brian slaves away back in the States. :)

  37. Just you wait Sonia… when you get back, I’m taking the rest of the year to recharge.

    (She thinks I’m joking).

  38. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Susan – Naysayers do kill the dream – it’s always important to be accepting of constructive criticism, but don’t ever let anyone hold you back.

    @Jewelry Secrets – I have a TON of drafts in my WordPress que – it’s perfectly OK to have an incomplete thought and come back to it later.

    @Joanna – YES! I take a ton of notes, highlight, write IN the book, whatever as I read – really keeps my mind sharp.

    @Kevin – Yes, couldn’t agree more about scheduling time to write. Sunday afternoons are prime writing time for yours truly. Treat it like it’s a “job” that you have to commit time to.

    @Christine – Thanks for the comment! Reading things outside your “realm” of expertise really helps you (and your writing) grow.

    @Adam – Thanks man! Experimenting and trying new things is a direct pathway to success – it can be tiring doing the same thing over and over. Have to be willing to think outside the box!

    @Andee – You HAVE to develop a consistent schedule. Consistency = success. Agree 100%.

    @Sonia – Well, I stopped at the local Starbucks – but yes, I guess Paris is a nice way to change up your writing environment, eh?

    @Brian – A year off to recharge? If only we could all be so lucky!

  39. (filled with massive sense of impending doom)

  40. My problem is time. I have a full-time job and a 2 yr old. I unfortunately have to write fast. At least now I wait until she is sleeping, get everything written, walk away and then edit and publish later with fresh eyes. That alone has improved my writing dramatically.

  41. @Brian
    Wait until it’s a leap year to take off. You’ll get an extra day.

  42. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Zack – I hear you man. Time management is a big challenge. Plan ahead and treat it like a job – commit to spending “X” amount of time writing posts each week, “X” amount of time reading other blogs, etc. Helps if you can really develop a clear blogging “schedule”. Cheers!

  43. Thank you for this post. It came at just the right time :)

  44. Great list, Matt! The one thing I would add is let yourself be inspired by life experiences. Even if you don’t want to write about personal issues, more often than not, there’s a valuable lesson to be found in everything we go through.

  45. Thank you for this uber-inspirational list Matthew!

    My only suggestion: never forget the passion you have for writing. It keeps me connected, inspired, and open.

  46. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Bou – No problem! Glad you enjoyed it.

    @Sam – Great to see you here Ms. Karol. And yes, great point, there needs to be a lot of “you” in your writing, that’s what people really connect with.

    @Simren – Thank you for the kudos. And right on, as long as you love writing, you’ll never have to worry about falling anywhere short of success.

  47. I think it’s a matter of getting on with life isn’t it – after all, what we write about is life. I find that I get inspired by little snippets of conversation with friends, or quiet time when I’m out in the bush taking a walk, or digging in the garden, or spending time at the beach. It somehow frees up space that – when you are sitting in front of the computer or with your mobile in your pocket – is otherwise consumed by all the bells and whistles. Your tips give me some ideas for where else I might get inspiration. Thankyou!

  48. I often have problems getting inspired if I’m feeling overloaded or pressured, so I take my camera and go on a long walk to shoot architecture. Getting moving and thinking about how to frame shots is so involving that it clears my mind – and I often come home with an idea that was probably simmering in my subconscious, but seems to have just popped into my head. The bonus is that I now have a couple hundred architectural photos for my screensaver, and if I need a 2-minute break while I’m wrestling with a problem at my desk, the photos help clear my mind if I don’t have time to get out and walk.

  49. Loved your article. There is a lot of content that isn’t freely available to the public online such as books and academic papers. As you said, these contain a host of complex ideas that can really inject life into online content. Unplugging is such great advice, you have inspired me to start writing!

  50. Another source? Writing about what you love. That’s the best way to write. If you don’t care much for the subject ,how can you write about it effectively?

  51. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Cherry – The little moments do really provide the most inspiration. A big source for me, as you said, is conversations (face to face) with other people. A quick coffee date can lead to some awesome writing inspiration.

    @Dianne – Everyone has their “escape” – for you it’s photography, and I think that’s awesome! Thanks for the comment :)

    @Zara – Thrilled to have provided you with some inspiration. If you ever want to bounce ideas around, feel free to reach out and get in touch with me.

  52. Great insights. I think the most important writing ‘technique’ is consistency. By establishing a personal routine of writing on certain days or certain times, we teach ourselves good habits. Once something is a habit, it feels natural, and we’re comfortable doing it.

    Brainstorming techniques often feel very alien and so instead of loosening up sometimes we resist the process. My favorite aspect of this article was that it illustrates how building good habits strengthens us as writers overall.

  53. Great point about listening to a whole album instead of a few hit songs. I completely agree with you, albums do tell stories and have deeper meanings than just the song titles. One thing I like to do to get rid of my writers block is go hiking. It frees my mind from the technological constraints in the city. Thanks for the other great tips!

  54. Splendid post, great reminders – thank you for this. Much of what you describe, I call “refilling the well” to balance the creative output we *spend* on a regular basis.

  55. I just love this post because I too think along exactly the same lines, (it’s as though you took the thoughts straight from my brain and, of course wrote them more eloquently than as I was thinking them), especially the one about staying away from naysayers and other (jealous) people who want to drag you down.

    My two favourite places to work are our local McCafe and the library, and reading books is my favourite hobby when I’m not writing. Reading a lot is one of the things that Stephen King recommends in his book “On Writing”. He says that all great writers are also prolific readers.

    And as to staying away from trends…well, what can I say. Trends are just that – trends. They come and they go but too many people get hooked on them for the short time they are around.

    I stumbled this post so that others could enjoy it too. Very inspiring, as the title suggested.

  56. For me stay away from computer help me to become better blogger for sure.

    there is system where do it frequently make you better in it.. but blog surely not work that way.

    in blogging, you should do less blogging and more communicating, reading, listening and other thing that not related to ‘blogging’.

  57. Awesome to see you here, Matt! Congrats.

    A big source of inspiration for me is people – watching, listening, finding out what they are struggling with. Face to face, over a glass of wine … yes!

  58. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Nathan – Consistency is key – both in developing a schedule for yourself and a schedule for what other pople can connect with and expect.

    @Ralph – Itunes has killed this practice, which is why I’m still one of the few who buys hard copies. A lot to be said for reading from beginning to end.

    @Matha – Thanks for the comment! Glad you enjoyed the post :)

    @Ruth – Thanks for sharing this post and your story! Great to get so many perspective s on what really inspires you

  59. Thanks Matt for another excellant post. After 4 months of doing my blog, this is good info to have and to remember.

  60. Hey Matt:

    Great job with this post…I’ve had my share of writer’s block lately, so this helps. I especially like your #2…I know I grew up before the IPod generation and have a strong feeling about buying albums and not just individual songs. Sure, I can shuffle it on my MP3 player, but there’s nothing like listening to a full-length CD.

    You have a lot of great suggestions here…I find that getting out and away from the computer helps me. Thanks again!

  61. Matt, an excellent post. Nice to know since I’ve only been blogging for 4 months now. Guess I have to be #10 with myself…

  62. You know, was reading (very late, I know) the spin selling book and Terry Pratchet’s colour of magic and also the harvard business review magazine and from them I made a mindmap and got material for about 10 well developed posts.

    You are right.

    What I’ve been meaning to try out is a writing rally, like getting a bunch of people together (all passionate about writing) either physically or via skype, for about an hour, make it like a contest, the winner is the one who wrote mer words with relevant content, he gets bribe rights :)

    What would you think of it?

  63. “New ideas come from difference. They come from having different perspectives and juxtaposing different theories.” ~Nicholas Negroponte

  64. First of all Matt, well done here. All great points. The number one for me is to get unplugged periodically. You cannot beat that for increasing your productivity in anything.

  65. The “Unplugging” methods i have liked. Because i saw, whenever i on online i busy with the facebook, gmail, IM etc rather than making a new post.

    Great post baby.

  66. Re: “As a writer, what would you encourage the rest of us to do to maximize our writing potential and find inspiration?”

    Focus on the things that work and inspire you the most. For me, it’s reading other books. I spend time (whenever the opportunity arises) to work out of Barnes & Noble. Why? Because I can pick up and sift through several books at once. I buy and receive several books a month from publishers. I read each one with a hi-lighter and stick-it notes in-hand. Can you say #geek (Yes I just used a hashtag).

    I also agree with you on the unplugging. DEFINITELY helpful and productive! Nothing wrong with taking some time to yourself to refresh.

    The area that I’d like to work on for this year is “mentors.” I have a small group of people that I reach out to at least once a month for advice on my professional goals. I have certain targets each month and I check in to ensure I’m reaching those targets and look for ways to improve.

  67. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Melissa – Great to see you here as well Melissa! Face to face with a drink in hand does wonders for inspiration (and in simply building relationships). So important to take things offline as often as possible.

    @Bryon – Thanks, and keep at it with your blog buddy! You’ve gotten past the most “difficult” time – nowhere but up from here!

    @Tim – Ipods have killed the beauty of listening to an album from beginning to end, but I still make it a practice to do this with every new CD I buy, and I VERY RARELY buy single songs. Thanks for the comment!

    @Raul – Writing contests and challenges are a great way to steer the mind in new directions. Go for it!

    @Loewen – Love the quote, thanks for sharing. The best way to learn is by surrounding ourselves with diverse perspectives and opinions.

    @Marc – Good to see you here Marc – unplugging is priority number one – being able to break away and recharge does a lot for me as a writer.

    @Ricardo – Great thoughts here. To your point about mentors, I’ve never been one to have ONE DIRECT MENTOR, but rather, to surround myself with many indirect mentors – people who push me to be at my best, are there to bounce ideas around with, etc. I think this is the best think you can do not only to improve your writing, but to improve your overall quality of life. Cheers!

  68. Being new to blogging these tips are very helpful!

    Just last night I was talking with a friend about the importance of reading good books rather than simply being glued to the internet.

    I’d agree that the discipline of ‘unplugging’ is a very necessary one, particularly when you have other responsibilities.

    Your points were relevant, and of course, inspiring!

    Thanks

  69. Wonderful post! I especially like your take on mentors. Excellent!

  70. I’ll do it.

    Thanks for the advice!

  71. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Nicholas – Thanks for the comment. Unplugging and reading OFFLINE can do wonders for your writing ONLINE. Cheers!

    @Dennie – Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  72. More books/fewer blogs is KEY! I would go one step further and really get the content crammed into the old noggin’ by using automobile University, where you check out audiobooks in your niche, from the local library, and get through a ton of useful information by just driving around.

    I like to keep a pad of post-it notes in my car and I write down one concept at a time, which gives me an endless stream of blogging material down the road, plus it cements the ideas in your head… you also get good at driving with your knee :)

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  73. I love these tips. They are as much about being fully human (read, go outside your comfort zone, communicate face to face, be patient) as they are about being an inspired writer.

    Maybe that’s the real lesson.

    Thanks for making me pause.

  74. Matt, great list of must-follow tips! I would add three more:

    1. 10.000 hours till mastery — Malcolm Gladwell shows us this theory. You get better and better as long as you practice. And you have to practice (write) a lot (10k hours?) to be a good writer. No success is by accident.

    2. Write about things you know. It´s easier, your ideas flow. When you´re familiar to the subject, it´s like living again the same feeling.

    3. Observe people. In the streets, in a shopping mall, in a supermarket line. People are always a source of inspiring ideas about behavior, relationship, social, and life.

    Thank you for sharing some great insights!

  75. We are all creatures of HABIT.

    Many of my habits do not necessarily move me forward so I am learning to pay attention to non-productive habits and diligently work toward replacing them with more productive choices.

    Thinking about what we’re going to do before we do it can lead to a more inspired experience. “10 Pathways to Inspired Writing” is a pretty cool way to interrupt my normal ‘thinking’ habit and provide some new ways to become more inspired and ultimately, more productive.

  76. Great post! I’m new to your blog, and am finding a lot of good things here.

    One point: There can be a fine line between getting rid of negativity and surrounding yourself with yes people. Yes people can be just as limiting.

  77. Greetings Matthew,

    As a Feng Shui consultant of 16 years, I was taken aback that you left home to be inspired. Oh my dear fellow writer, allow me to help you find your genius within your own abode. I love writing in my home-office and yes, in my pajamas. To me, this is one of the big perks of being a writer. I also enjoy treks to the coffee shop and certainly nature is a HUGE creative boost. However ‘the way of wind and water’ gives one the tools to mine the treasures found within their noble home.

    You have been my muse~thank you for being the catalyst to update my BLOG. I am now using it to teach Feng Shui’s timeless art & science in a user-friendly manner. This profound wisdom allows inspiration, innovation & illumination to flow. Check out my day-to-day post on fengshuisimplified.com—simply click the blog icon. Blessings~

    Be Inspired,
    Sharyn Jordan Hathcock
    Author of The Home Whisperer~Feng Shui Simplified

  78. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Joshua – I like that idea a lot and it’s something I really want to get into more of myself (audiobooks). Many folks have recommended audible.com and I think I’m going to finally take the plunge. P.S. Like you, I keep a pad of paper everywhere I go in case of those “random” moment of inspiration.

    @Iconic Mom – I think, in hindsight, that IS the real lesson here. Thanks for taking the time to read.

    @Mariela – AGREE that NO success is my accident, even though sometimes it feels like it is, right? And, to your second point, you have to stick to what you know (you can always learn more) but the minute you try to become something your not, you lose focus and your readers will see right through you.

    @Michael – Yes. It’s damn near impossible to break habits once they’re in place. But reading what a lot of other forward-thinking people have to say and writing “outside the box” yourself is a great way to break free of those habits that may have been holding you back.

    @Kathy – GREAT point, one of the best made here. Negativity stinks but people who only encourage and NEVER push you to do more/be more/think outside the box aren’t really helping much either (even if they are nicer).

    @Sharyn – Thank you for the comment. Truth be told, much of my writing DOES take place at home, in PJs, but I almost always find a new-found focus and inspiration when I’m able to put myself in new surroundings. Looking forward to connecting with you more in the future!

  79. Thanks for some great tips! I am trying my own blog experiment and your posts always have a nugget or two of something actionable I can use. Since this is the first time I have written my own blog, the topics are just flowing but I can tell you I’ll be back to pick up some tips when that inevitable writers block happens.

    Thanks for being a great writing resource.

  80. Writing trouble often starts with the blank page syndrome. Tt can be intimidating to stare at a blank sheet/screen. That’s because it’s hard to know where to START. I’d like to suggest mind mapping as a way to fan the flames of your creativity. Mind mapping is a way to capture ideas in such a way that you don’t need to worry about what comes first. You can just start pouring out your ideas onto the page without regard to order. Once you’ve got your brain going, you can move to the next phase and dar and drop your ideas into order, then start to elaborate on them. I’ve got some tutorials about mind mapping on my blog at CSO: The World of ConceptDraw.

  81. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Tracy – Copyblogger is an outstanding resource, without a doubt, glad to contribute some of my own thoughts to their library of info here. Thanks for the comment!

    @Hobie – Thanks for providing a link to some of your resources. Cheers!

  82. Great post! I agree on all points, but especially the part of never underestimating the power of unplugging. I know how I feel when I’ve been staring at my screen all day long, and I’m feeling frazzled and burned out and totally uncreative.

    Then I know I need to unplug, take a day away, write in my notebook and relax and come back refreshed and ready to get back to writing.

    It’s amazing how unproductive you can be when trying too hard to be productive! LOL

    Thanks again for the great post!

    Warm regards,
    Cori

  83. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @Cori – Great point. TRYING to be productive can sometimes be extremely counter-productive. Funny how that works. Thanks for the comment!

  84. how did you get so many people on your blog?? Please reply to me at lest once!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  85. I typically read three to four books per month but it never occurred to me to read blogs outside of my niche. Since I use my blog to inspire writers, I am always looking for ways to enhance my blog and my life. Thanks Matthew that is an amazing idea.

  86. Matthew Cheuvront :

    @C.J. – Always a good idea to expand your horizons a bit, but I greatly commend your commitment to 3-4 books a month, I’m tackling at least one per month and still struggle with that (but I’m getting better). Thanks for the comment!

  87. Good. I am so glad you said “READ MORE BOOKS”. Ever since my book mania started in early 06, I haven’t stopped reading…I read about 4 books a month, sometimes 3 (Leo Tolstoy’s Anna K is taking longer than a week! ;)) but I do love reading books, esp. classics. Fads come and go! Books are here with us for generations and the scores of ideas and thoughts expressed in each have time to be fully developed, to carefully explored, experimented with and well-articulated within the pages….