5 ways to get inspired
How to spark your creativity and fuel your writing
Published: September 21, 2011
When inspiration strikes, writing feels effortless and embarrassingly easy, as in “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.” A once parched desert is suddenly transformed into a limitless waterfall of ideas. You can’t type fast enough. You feel brilliant.
And then it just goes away. Thinking up a new idea suddenly feels exhausting. But life doesn’t stop because you no longer feel compelled to write. A looming deadline only makes things worse, since pressure plus desperation rarely equals inspiration. And as romantic as it sounds, writers rarely have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit. As author Peter De Vries said, “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”
These five techniques will help you keep the inspiration flowing and fuel your next creative venture:
self-indulgent. Inspiration is easy to take advantage of. When it’s
good to you, you rarely say thank you. And when the well is empty, you
find yourself turning into an overbearing and demanding boss willing it
to produce. Instead, think of it as your inner child. Be kind, baby it,
and on occasion give in to a little self-indulgence. Mini-retreats and
small gifts are sufficient. Promise your inner child that after
producing 500 words, for example, you will treat it to a 10-minute walk
outside or a new pen. You’ll find yourself less likely to rebel and
more likely to stay the course.|
Get connected. The word
“inspiration” has its origins in religion. Dictionary.com defines it as
“a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or
soul.” You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to appreciate
inspiration, however. You can find it through connection with loved
ones, nature or music. Human beings need to feel connected, so if
you’re fresh out of inspiration, explore one of these options.
Read voraciously. Looked at your stash of books
recently? All writers are readers at heart. But when you start writing
for a living, your reading choices can become limited to books on how
to get more freelance work or ways to get your poetry published.
Everyone needs resource books in his repertoire, but make sure to add
books to feed your appetite for reading itself. Do you remember the
anticipation you felt as a child reading a new book? Or the excitement
you felt when an author’s words moved you and left you feeling understood?
That’s what will satisfy your hunger for inspiration. Pick a book and
fully absorb yourself in it. Simply savor it for what it is instead of
for what it can do for you.
Embrace art. Writing is a form of
art, and sometimes in our effort to produce, we fail to appreciate
that. When I’m feeling uninspired, a trip to a museum or a photo
exhibit can remind me of why I do what I do. When I witness a pair of
cougars captured on film, or the way an artist used her paintbrush to
create emotion—not just colors on a canvas—I am moved. It’s easy to get
swept away by the power of art. It’s the same way with poetry. Poetry
forces you to pause—to temporarily stop looking for the bold headings
and bullet points—and really relish every single word. A good poem can
refresh old thoughts, recharge your writing and help you breathe new
life into your work.
Do less, but do it well. A lot of
websites and articles will tell you that to get something done, you
need to lock yourself up in a room and just do it. It’s the whole idea
of “no pain, no gain.” But this concept hasn’t done anything for my
body or my soul. Instead of focusing on quantity, forget about how much
you write and spend focused time on how well you write. There is a time
and a place to write just to write. Julia Cameron’s daily “morning pages,” for example, are a great way to freely express your thoughts on
paper. And mindful writing—being completely focused on every word you
compose and deciding to stop when you’re tired—will give you a whole
new appreciation for the act of writing itself.
Brandi-Ann Uyemura is an associate editor for Psych Central and a freelance copywriter, blogger and features writer.