Coming up with ideas can be difficult, especially if like me you’re writing for a large portion of the day every day.
There are some sessions when my head is buzzing with possible stories, when I’m racing to get to the keyboard. When I’m alive with the sound of music. No, wait, that’s…never mind.
And then there are days when all I see when I look out on the world with my inner eyes is a landscape of static noise. Nothing.
On those days, I need some inspiration (and possibly a stiff drink, but we’ll let that alone for another day). So where to get this mystical thing called inspiration? Well here’s the thing….
What we're really looking for when we hit a writing block is stimulation. #writingtip #writerslife Click To Tweet
I’m not talking feather duster on your no-no place stimulation (though, if that’s what get’s you writing more power to you), but something to get the old mental lobes a’lighting, the synapses firing, and to start up my storymaking thoughts again.
The good news is, stimulation and inspiration are never far away…
For times like these, I turn to a few lovely places of creative fortitude. That’s an uppity way of saying I haul ass and start searching for something good to chew on. Here’s a few places I frequent on the regular:
I love me some pinning, and so it’s little wonder that when I’m hitting the old Red Devil (my fun street-drug name for Pinterest) I end up creating boards of images for ideas. I’m not talking strictly about prompts, though they of course can be helpful, but rather little seedlings of ideas that I might nurture in a future writing session.
I love Unsplash. It’s an amazing resource full of some great (free to use!) images. What’s more, the photography community there is so creative and comes up with all kinds of stunning images. You can even find genre images (horror, sci-fi, fantasy) via its curated lists (try this Halloween themed one for example), so if you’re looking for something specific and visually meaty, Unsplash is the place to be!
Consuming other creative media
Sometimes, when I’m lacking for ideas it’s not because I aren’t working hard. In fact, usually it’s because I’ve worked so hard I’ve depleted my energy. When that happens, I need to make a withdrawal from the Bank of Creativity. And, fortunately, their are branches world-wide.
From reading a favourite book (Wicked!) to watching a great TV show (House of Cards!) there are so many ways that we can top up the creative energies.
#HotTip: I’ve always found listening to music doesn’t give me creative energy so much as it allows me breathing room to work on creative problems. So if you’re looking for ideas to fix a plot problem rather than for starting a new story, try dipping into different kinds of music. That’s always helped me. Obviously, everyone is different though so search far and wide for what works for you!
Experimenting with ‘What If?’
This one’s a fun one. They say there are no new stories, just different ways of telling the same story. That’s great. Why reinvent the wheel when you can adapt it to your purpose? So, when I’m struggling for story matter I sometimes play a game where I will open a digital post-it and write down the first thing that pops into my head. For example:
Bit out of left field but earlier on Facebook I saw pictures of an old guitar that needed restoring. Great. So what about guitar?
Well then, I next write:
What if a guitar….
And you start filling in the blank. This can give you some pretty standard stories:
What if a guitar could talk?What would it say?
But as you go down the list of “what if”s, you can get some more interesting ideas:
What if a guitar was found by an alien anthropologist?
What if a guitar was how a woman took over the world?
What if a guitar could make the flowers grow?
and so on. You can be as adventurous or as mundane as you like. I find that, usually, I don’t end up using these what ifs, but they’re great for making really bizarre (and sometimes very rude) ideas that grease my brain up good for better writing to come.
Lastly, if I’m struggling for stories sometimes it’s a clue that I need to get the hell out of my house. I mean, we writers are pretty solitary people. Going out into the world for a spot of human contact, and to see the quiet or sometimes noisy chaos of living can be just what I need in order to find your writing mojo again.
Do you have any great tips for getting that spark of creativity going? Let me know in the comments below and, as ever friends, always be writing!