You’re sitting down to write your first book, and you couldn’t be more excited.
Except when you open up your word processor, begin staring at an empty page and there’s no energy flowing.
You’re thinking but your hands aren’t moving across the keyboard.
You’re a writer, and you’ve been struck with writer’s block. The worst.
Every writer struggles at some point. Everyone has had a moment where they get frustrated at their lack of ability and persistence.
To make matters worse, many people on the outside looking in imagine all writers simply have a bottomless source of ideas and inspiration that makes their working life all peaches and cream.
They think we’re all living the beach life, sipping tropical drinks as we check our merchant account every few hours to pompously view our daily earnings.
If you’ve been writing for any length of time – especially if you are or are working on becoming a writer for your career – you know this is not the case. In fact, it’s anything but!
Despite this mutual understanding, the problem remains: How do writers develop or maintain a source of inspiration and fuel for writing? How do you live an entire life (a quality life, at that) while still having enough to write and potentially make a business out of it?
Fortunately, inspiration can be studied, systematized, repeated and otherwise manufactured. Not to use an overly mechanistic term, but if you want to turn your passion into your paycheck, systems are necessary. No reliable, profitable business can run without systems, and systems cannot exist without the discipline required to build them.
But enough with the super-technical talk for now. Let’s dive into 10 highly-actionable tips for gathering, retaining and reproducing quality inspiration for your next piece of writing.
1. Absorb And Appreciate Other Forms Of Art
One of the best ways to have enough inspiration to draw from frequently enough is to do exactly that – get inspired!As a writer, you need to get inspired! Click To Tweet
Get outside your home and go to a concert, movie, gallery or other creative event. Absorb art that stimulates your mind and invigorates your heart.
Art is so often a communal experience; it’s rare to find people listening to bands, watching a movie or doing something related to art alone. Part of the joy of making art is having the opportunity to share it with others. So go out into the “real world” and absorb a variety of art forms.
Also, take notes! The best artists are always observing, and the best observations are ones you can come back to. Keeping a record of everything floating through your head is a brilliant way to stockpile ideas.
2. Try Your Hand At Music, Film, Visual Art And Others
Even better than observing other forms of art is getting involved in it yourself! Try out something you haven’t done before, and don’t worry about measuring your results. Simply open yourself up to it and have fun!
You might come across a message or a thought you never anticipated previously. This could end up being the root of your next piece of writing!
3. Read Biographies And Books
Reading other books is probably the best source of new information and ideas (in my opinion). Getting new information into your head and using it with existing ideas produces incredible results. I’ve come across awesome book chapter ideas, blog post foundations and other sources of inspiration just by reading a new book. Books are limitless and take you to places your mind hasn’t been before.Books are limitless and take you to places your mind hasn't been before. Click To Tweet
Biographies are also fantastic as they provide real-life info on how someone took an idea, process, product or service and made a living out of it. You can probably tell based on that last sentence that I’m leaning towards entrepreneurship with bios, but other biographies are great too! I recommend balancing bios of recent entrepreneurs (especially those you look up to) with biographies from anyone else. This affords you realistic advice with overall inspiration to fuel whatever you’re writing about or producing.
4. Consider Teaching A Class
Teaching a skill is the best way to learn it, and this is never truer than when you’re looking to make a living out of a skill. Helping others accomplish their goals with writing, marketing, business or other topics instantly makes you a better writer (or, insert profession/skill here).Teaching a skill is the best way to learn it. Click To Tweet
There are countless opportunities to share what you know with others. Skillshare is one website where you can sign up to be a teacher and provide quality information about a creative skill to others. You can do a similar thing on sites like Udemy. For even more sites to teach from and/or learn from, check out this page and this page.
5. Watch The World And Stay Relatively Up-To-Date
Staying at least somewhat abreast of the news (in your country and world) is a smart idea because this is a truly endless source of potential inspiration. The world is always experiencing new, different events, and the latest headline (whether good or bad) may be a tip that lights a new bulb in your mind.
At the same time, remember that carving out solo, peace-filled time is just as valuable and important as reading the news with some manner of frequency. Most media outlets create a pre-orchestrated environment of fear and disillusionment, which can lead to depression and frustration more often than not. It’s vital to balance remaining updated with the freedom to enjoy your life. No human bears the responsibility of having to solve all the world’s ills!
6. Stay Connected To Current Events
On a similar (but different) note to keeping watch of developing news, stay connected to current events, especially within your home area. It’s one thing to write without distractions; it’s another thing to write and be unaware of what’s happening in the world just outside your door.
One great reason it’s vital to be aware of current events is because fact is always stranger than fiction, and new facts can spur on fiction writing (if that’s your thing). Real-life stories – especially those which (unfortunately) involve crime and violence – seem to frequently have an unbelievable effect to them. When reading fiction, we understand it’s make-believe, but reading about something that seems better suited to a book or movie wows us even more deeply.
Breaking news can be exciting (at times) to consume as a civilian, but be careful about how you incorporate it into your writing (if you do). I’ve found that utilizing breaking news is not often the best idea for your writing (which will be somewhat or entirely set-in-stone as soon as you finish it).
Over the past few years, I’ve watched a few news events (and one in particular) that made significantly more sense and were more resolved just a few months later. To put it one way, you want to avoid using incomplete information in completed writing. In other words, a news situation may become even more drawn out than you expected it, whereas your writing stays with you for life (and people often judge your writing based on how accurate, realistic and believable it is).
7. Focus On How You Can Help The Destitute Through Your Writing
The world has about 7.5 billion people right now, and 1 billion of those people have to deal with the worst of it all. 1 billion people on planet Earth have the worst living conditions, suffering through abject poverty daily. They are known as the bottom billion.
It’s not every day you get a chance to do work that can help those in poverty, but every opportunity you receive, you should investigate. Not For Sale Campaign offers a platform through which talented folks such as yourself can make a difference with their skills.
If you’re a writer or creative type, you can make a book or different kind of media and have all the profits go directly to a non-profit of your choice. Check out the charity you’re interested in on Charity Navigator (to make sure it’s worth your time and money) and then move forward.
8. Keep Your Brain Fresh
Remember that sometimes, the best and deepest inspiration comes to you when you take a break from writing. Working yourself to the bone is actually counterproductive, because this inhibits your best work. Humans only have so much they can do in a given day, and the thinner you spread yourself, the further down the quality of your work drops.
Keep your brain fresh by giving it a break every once in a while. Don’t try to pump out tons of work in one day without taking brief breaks, and give yourself the weekend off every couple months or so. It’s necessary for your best work to truly be your best!
9. Observe And Learn From People In Non-Writing Careers
There are always opportunities to learn skills, observations and techniques from people in non-writing careers. Most of the skills and work we do throughout our lives are at least partly transferable, so it’s extremely helpful to pick up tips and tricks when you can. Seeing how someone else performs at their peak gives you the edge you need to do the same in your own strivings.
If you want to really stand out and be successful in business, you must don the Yellow Zebra technique, Tim Fargo’s representation of standing out. Yes, it’s true; people do business with those they know, like and trust. But businesses don’t last if they look, sound and operate just like all others.
You must be offering something unique and of incredible value to your fans, customers and community. Otherwise, they can just go to the closest man or woman who captures their attention better.
10. Ask Yourself This Critical Question
We writers are communicators. We love to share a message. We enjoy getting the truth out there. We delight in sharing a story. But few of us ask ourselves how we can benefit other industries and individuals through our craft.
I’d love to prompt you to consider such a premise. How might your writing be able to benefit the “traditional” workforce – that is, the United States’ (or your country’s) existing “blue collar” workforce? The question can even extend beyond the idea of blue collar jobs. The point here is to ask yourself how your blog posts, books, emails and other writings can uplift, inspire and encourage those who really need it.
There’s another side of this question that must be brought up…
It’s the component of courage.
Often times we know the right thing to do, but don’t do it. Are we afraid of the task itself, or are we afraid of being ejected from our comfort zone? Too often it’s the latter.
I encourage you to spend some honest, thoughtful time thinking about how you can make a difference for the down-and-outers around you right now. Think about ways you can help them see their own potential to do what you are currently doing.
Want a free eBook on writing tips, plus my bonus eBook on best writing practices for free? Sign up below for the free eBooks and my best weekly emails on writing!
The How To Become A Better Writer Series: