Hey Writer: How to Create Your Own Inspiration for Writing
Nerd Confession: I enjoy spending my Friday nights in a bookstore.
There is something about books that motivate me as a writer, which is why I've always gravitated toward bookstores, libraries, book fairs, and all things bookish.
My obsession with books started at an early age. My mom often took me to the library, and we picked out books to read. I spent numerous hours reading books on our brown swing on the front porch until sundown or dinnertime. As years passed, my trips to the library continued frequently, along with raiding my sister’s best friend’s bookshelf. I’d come home from her house with Babysitter Club books, the R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series, or Christopher Pike novels. Around my birthday or Christmas, I waited anxiously for a new book series from my parents, like 18 Pine Street, the first African-American high school series I stumbled across.
Today, I still spend hours scouring bookstores or libraries for a new author, fiction bestsellers, or inspirational reads. Spending my Friday evenings in the bookstore is not only fun and relaxing, but those routine trips also inspire me. They spark creativity. They make me want to write. There was a time when I didn’t know if I wanted to complete my book or pursue my writing goals while dealing with life, grief, and other changes. Once my desire to write reawakened, I discovered my weekly trips to the bookstores or the local library were super beneficial in helping me push through the mental block that hindered my creative flow.
I love this quote from author Pearl S. Buck. I’ve wasted a lot of time “waiting” to be inspired before I started working on anything. And if that inspiration didn’t hit me after a few minutes, I gave my project the deuces and moved on to something else. I had an epiphany moment not long ago when I came across my long to-do list and a notebook brimming with unfinished story ideas. I can no longer afford to wait for inspiration to show up, greet me with a fat kiss, and say, okay let’s get this blog started. Let’s write this book. Let’s finish this short story you’ve been working on for two years. Let’s get your life together. I need to make moves if I want to accomplish my writing goals.
This means I must silence the voice in my head that whispers I only create great work when I feel inspired. So even on days when I don’t feel inspired to write or create, I know I need to hunt inspiration down. I seek her out when she’s in hiding. I must come for her because she doesn’t always come for me (inspiration is a finicky thing). Some days she’ll want you. Other days, she acts brand new.
"Inspiration, where ya at? You coming, or nah?
Silence. I stare at the screen and roll my eyes. Stand up and stretch. Make a fresh cup of coffee. Take a jog around the block. Turn on my playlist. Return to my seat. Power up the laptop...only to find the blank page still taunting me. I wait for the right words to hit me, but they won’t come. So I stare. Until I give up for the day and accept that inspiration has stood me up. Again.
Where do you feel inspired?
Find Your Muse
Maybe you enjoy a good read, but the thought of spending hours in a bookstore or library doesn’t move you. Not everyone is a book junkie. Even though books inspire me, your inspiration may come from art, photography, or nature. Remember, your place of inspiration doesn’t have to relate directly to what you do. It just needs to reconnect you to your work. I’m not a barista, but my writer’s block seems to go into hiding whenever I take a trip to a local coffee shop to write.
Surround yourself with things that motivate you and reawaken your passion. Write down three places that make you excited about your work. Where do you zone out or lose track of time? Where are you most productive? Schedule some time (weekly if possible) to visit your place, even if it’s only for thirty minutes.
We don’t always have to visit a physical place to become inspired. There is a massive amount of information available on the Internet 24/7 in the form of blogs, books, magazines, videos, etc. The list is endless. But beware: The gigantic amount of content that’s readily available at any time of the day makes it super easy to overconsume information. I don’t know about you, but there were times when I started on a site about writing a novel and then ended up on another site about cooking a chicken taco five clicks later...and all within a span of ten minutes. It’s easy to get distracted on the Internet and lose your focus, making it difficult to find inspiration because your mind’s all over the place.
On the flip side, the Internet makes it possible to connect with like-minded people and communities that offer encouragement. Join a Facebook group or connect with like-minded individuals through weekly Twitter Chats. Sign up for newsletters from bloggers, authors, and magazines that really speak to your struggles. To avoid wasting time online, we just need to be intentional about what we need and then find those resources.
Some go-to resources:
Create Your Space
Sometimes we can’t always make it to our favorite creative place due to time, weather, or busy schedules. If you live in a colder climate like myself, you already know how those long winter months make it hard to leave the house. That’s why creating a personal space in your home to write is important, because that becomes your go-to space all-year round. Your space doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to spark your creativity and support your needs as a writer.
I can’t wait to create my dream office (which will include a home library), but in the meantime, I took a trip to Ikea with my hubby, and we picked out a few items to turn our second bedroom into an office. Whether you decorate your office with inspirational quotes, writing books, a comfy chair, or artwork, build a space that works for you and speaks to you on days you feel like watching TV instead of writing. If you don’t have a free room to spare, take a section of your bedroom, basement, or another room and make it your own. Incorporate your style (vintage, casual, modern, favorite colors, etc.) into your personal writing space, and have fun with it! Check out these ideas from Fresh Home to create an office space that matches your style.
At the end of the day, our writing comes down to diligence and putting in the work. The hard work that no one sees behind the scenes. The work that can feel daunting one day and exhilarating the next, which is why we can't depend on how we feel. Even though I absolutely love to write, there are some days I honestly don't feel like writing. I still struggle on days when I'm anything but pumped to tackle a plot problem. I'm learning how to go after my muse during the challenging days. It's time to create inspiration on my own terms.