On Finding Inspiration (6 Suggestions and Exercises)

Are you stuck on your project right now? Can’t seem to get the juices flowing? There are millions of ways to find inspiration. Here are just a few of my favorites:

1. Go outside.
Being outside is brilliant. Just to feel the air around you, to smell the scents, the sun above, the ground below. There are simply tons of things you can write about about the outside, and most likely, your characters will be going outside some point in the story — use what you experience to fuel those scenes.
Exercise: Pinpoint a single setting outside (the bridge over the stream; the bench in the park; the tree in the middle of the forest), and write every detail you can about it. Let your five senses overcome you.

2. Listen to music.
This is a big one. Notes and tunes can influence in so many ways. The make this pleasant feeling in our minds so we crave more, more, and more. If you want to shake things up a bit, try listening to a different genre of music than you usually do.
Exercise: If you have a music player, turn it to shuffle, and write about the first three songs that come up.

3. Read/watch/make creative work.
Reading other authors’ work, watching movies or shows, and crafting can help funnel your creative juices. Sometimes there are lines in poems, books, movies, or images in pictures or crafts that simply scream Write about me!
Exercise: Option a: Make something — whether it be jewelry or some cool knick knack. Option b: Read a poem by a famous author. Option b: Watch your favorite movie.

4. Switch things up.
Ever tried moving to a different surrounding? Maybe try and switch from writing on the computer to paper; or vice versa. Just switching simple things like this will you get your mind running in different directions.
Exercise: If you type, then write with a pen/pencil on paper. If you write with a pen/pencil on paper, then type on the computer.

5. Listen to people talking.
I know it sounds creepy, but it works, trust me. And if you’re an author, you’ve probably done it before. It’s why you’re sooo good at dialogue. Not only does listening help with dialogue, it gives you plenty of unique ideas — because the things we talk about are so varied, so random that you’re bound to find something useful in them.
Exercise: Go to someplace busy like a Starbucks or something, and simply listen to people’s conversations.

6. Observe the world.
Much like #5, except this time you’re seeing, not just listening. Take in every detail about people, the setting, etc. Ask yourself: Why is this? How is that? When did that happen? What happened there? Who does that? Pretend you’re on a top-secret mission, and take everything — simply everything — in.
Exercise: Go to someplace that is frequented well, and observe for fifteen or more minutes. Question everything.

I’m sure there are many more sources of inspiration, but these are just what come to mind. What are your favorite ways to get inspiration?

Thanks for reading, and happy writing!

~ J. Dominique