Being a professional writer means being able to write even when you don’t feel like it. Inspiration is overrated. That said, I know that when we do feel inspired to write what we create is much more, well, inspiring! It’s powerful and authentic and resonates with our readers in a way they can barely put into words. When we write something inspired it moves our readers. It moves us! And it feels like magic.
But here’s the thing, we can’t just sit around waiting for inspiration to hit us. We have to chase after it. Early American author Jack London said it best: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
Here are 12 ways to get inspired to write:
Just write! Freewriting is a great way to shake your muse out of her slumber. In fact, I subscribe to the practice of writing every day because we have to remember that writing is exactly that — a practice. Many musicians practice every day. They don’t just wait to pick up their instrument when they’re before a crowd. Athletes train almost every day, too. They don’t just wait until the big game or the big race to get in gear. Remember, everything you write isn’t meant to be read. A lot of what you write will be trash. But then you’ll dumpster dive in that garbage and find a gem, a jewel, something worth salvaging and turning into the work you were meant to write. So even if you just write one line, write something every day.
Brainstorm. Every writer should keep a running list of ideas whether it’s in a notebook that you carry in your handbag or in a notes app on your phone that you carry in your pocket. On that list try to jot down 10 ideas every day. In fact, in the foreword to the book Become an Idea Machine, James Altucher says this is one of the best ways to boost your creativity. By brainstorming ideas daily you’re exercising your creativity muscles. When it’s time for your daily freewriting session, turn to your list for inspiration.
Use writing prompts. If you’re still having trouble getting started during your freewriting sessions, be sure to keep writing prompts on hand. Here are 365 to get you started.
Scroll social media. I know what you’re thinking: “What?! Social media is the reason I can’t find the time to get any writing done.” And that’s probably true. But, believe it not, social media can also be a great place to get inspired, whether it’s from a picture you see on Instagram or Pinterest, a quote you see on Twitter, or a heartfelt status update on Facebook. One of my favorite personal essays I’ve ever written was inspired by a prompt I read in an e-course on growing your Instagram following. The prompt was supposed to help me discover and decide on my IG persona but instead, it pushed me to dive deep into my past and write an essay on how I’ve dealt with never feeling like I fit in.
Get moving. I often find that exercising my body also exercises my mind. I get some of my best ideas when walking or running through my neighborhood or on my favorite trail. Once when I got caught in the rain during a run, I even got inspired to write a blog post about how running in the rain is a lot like writing — even when you don’t feel like.
Read. Good writers read good writing. I say this ALL THE TIME. So read more. Read books, blogs, newspapers, and magazines. Read poetry and prose. Read the Bible, even if you’re not religious. Read everything you can get your hands on and soon you’ll be overflowing with ideas.
Netflix and chill. But by “chill,” I really do mean relax. It’s OK to give yourself a break and binge watch your favorite TV show or favorite movies sometimes. And you’d be surprised by how much inspiration you can actually get from those shows and films.
Be a Nosy Nancy. Even though I hate flying the writer in me loves airports. I like to people watch and eavesdrop on the conversations of the travelers around me and create entire lives for them in my mind and I jot these imagined scenarios in my journal.
Get artsy. Visit your local art museum or your favorite art gallery and create a story behind a painting you see or write a personal essay about how a piece of artwork made you feel.
Get in the groove. Music has always been a strong source of inspiration for my writing. Almost every angst-ridden piece of poetry and prose I wrote in high school and college was inspired by the music of Fiona Apple.
Find friends with benefits. No, not those kinds of benefits. Spending time with close friends having fun or heartfelt conversation can fuel some of your best work.
Make it a group thing. In her book Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg declares that writing is a communal act and my belief in this statement is exactly why I started See Jane Write. There’s something so powerful about being surrounded by a group of creative women who love to write. Join a writing club like See Jane Write or attend group writing sessions like the See Jane Write Girls Write-In.
What do you do to get inspired to write?