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  • Writer's pictureBreanna Call

Get Inspired as a Writer

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Some days the words flow, and some days they don’t. Here’s how to fix it when they don't.

A woman thinking surrounded by notebooks and pens.

The Short Story

Tips to get inspired:

  • Get Your Brain Going

  • Read Something

  • Go to the Environment

  • Take a Social Media Break

  • Write, Write, and Write

The Novel

There are some days where the pen just meets the paper and words, sentences, and paragraphs eventually come together to create stories. But let’s face it, there are also days where we tap our pencils on our chins and drink more ounces of caffeine than the words on our page. Where is our inspiration? How do we get those ideas back? Let’s look at a few tips that might do the trick.

Get Your Brain Going

A great way to get those ideas flowing is to warm up your brain. Start a crossword puzzle, color a picture, dig out that Sudoku book. This is a good way to get your brain up and running if you’re still trying to wake up from last night or if you find your eyes drooping in the afternoon. Giving yourself something to solve or a chance to be creative activates your brain and helps it get prepped to start forming all those good ideas.

Read Something

This can be anything: a novel, a news article, a blog. You can even listen to a podcast. The point is to immerse yourself in storytelling. And yes, even if it isn’t a novel, it can still be a story. Reviewing others’ writing (even if it isn’t the genre you are writing in) can help your brain recognize patterns and techniques. You might not be aware of them, but your brain will be picking up more than you think. Reading also sparks your imagination and gets you excited to come up with your work. You can then channel that excitement into words on a page.

Go to the Environment

If you’re writing about a girl who gets lost in the woods, go on a nature walk. If you’re writing about a bank heist, go sit in the lobby of a bank. If you’re writing about a grandfather taking his granddaughter fishing, go to a lake or an independent living center. Being in the environment that you are writing about, or at least close to it, will immerse you in your story more than sitting at your desk ever will. You’ll even be able to see glimpses of that life in action--which could give you some very interesting ideas to work with.

Take a Social Media Break

There are many creative and brilliant writers out there. And we have constant access to them on social media. It can be easy to feel less than when you are constantly comparing your work to others’ work. So give yourself a break. Turn off social media for a few hours or even a few days. This will allow you to find confidence in yourself and your own ideas instead of comparing your beginning drafts to a renowned author’s fifth published award-winner. Remember, your work has value. When you aren’t constantly comparing it, you can make room to find confidence in it. Believe in it and believe in yourself.

Write, Write, and Write

This is one of the best ways to get inspiration; it is also probably the hardest tip to put into action. That’s because many writers believe that their ideas must be brilliant and fully formed before beginning the first draft. But that just isn’t true. Just write down whatever is in your head. Even if it seems to be the middle of a story. Whatever you write down will be a start. You can always add more to the beginning or end. What matters is that you have started and now you have something to work with.

The Examples

How Suzanne Collins was inspired to write The Hunger Games:

“I was flipping through the channels one night between reality television programs and actual footage of the Iraq War, when the idea came to me.”

(“Suzanne Collins Talks About ‘The Hunger Games,’ the Books and the Movies.” The New York Times. Published October 18, 2018.

How J.K. Rowling came up with Harry Potter:

“[She] conceived the idea of Harry Potter in 1990 while sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London King’s Cross. Over the next five years, she began to map out all seven books of the series. She wrote mostly in longhand and gradually built up a mass of notes, many of which were scribbled on odd scraps of paper.”

(“J.K. Rowling.” About. Accessed May 17, 2021.

How John Grisham has published over 40 novels:

“Write a page every day.”

(“John Grisham’s Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Popular Fiction.”The New York Times. Published May 31, 2017.

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