We’ve all been there. After coming up with a great plot, interesting character, and a couple of chapters, motivation starts to trickle off. Or, in my case right now, I want to write, but am afraid that everything I write will be terrible, so I don’t write, and come here instead to preach to the internet about the art of writing.
Anyways, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a little disappointed in myself for having such trouble writing this book. When writing my previous novel, I didn’t have these problems. I stay motivated and inspired until about chapter 20, when I became plagued with the thought that I am a terrible writer and then didn’t write for about three months. But hey, at least I finished that novel. I’m only five chapters into this one, and thoroughly convinced that I have lost any talent I once had for writing. Don’t get me wrong – I love my plot and my characters, but I just can’t bring myself to write what I had planned. Instead, I spend most of my time thinking up fluffy fanfiction like scenes. And I’m not proud of it.
So, here are my top ways to find inspiration and beat writer’s block. Hope you enjoy!
- Listen to Music
For my last novel, I made two playlists – one for battles, and one for other scenes. My book took place in Iron Age Ireland, so I chose a variety of Celtic sounding songs (and used a hefty amount of the Lord of the Rings playlist). Every time I listened to this playlist I wanted to write. It really helped me to get in the mood of writing and inside the world I had created. Or, some songs just conjure up a certain emotion and I use them to write scenes with. I almost wrote a whole novel listening to Be Calm by fun. because the song is a whirlwind of so many emotions and I never get tired of it because every verse sounds different (the first verse and chorus is anxious and timid, while the second chorus has almost a marching band feel to it, and the songs finishes out with a triumphant rock song feel).
If you want to give them a listen, here’s the battle playlist- https://open.spotify.com/user/ksewell17/playlist/32ejN5Aew2pxhAnO5DsVLe
and here’s the other playlist- https://open.spotify.com/user/ksewell17/playlist/0DeVNeab02HKMfGUXWEmNC
2. Watch an Episode of TV or a Movie
Okay, I know this one sounds a little weird. The object is to write, not watch TV. But I know that every time I watch the Lord of the Rings I have to write. Hearing and watching the movie inspires me. So a lot of times I’ll write and have The Fellowship of the Ring on in the background. Or, I was sick yesterday, so I confined myself to the couch and watched an entire season of TURN: Washington’s Spies (I highly recommend this show, especially if you like history. It’s not entirely historically accurate, but the characters make the show. If you like complex characters, this show is perfect for you and I’m sure you’ll come to love the Woodhulls) and I could barely contain myself, since, one, it was about spies, two, they were historical spies, and number three, Benjamin Tallmadge is featured in the show, and he is the historical figure my character Benjamin was based upon. But, sadly, the point of this was not to rant about how much I love Benjamin Tallmadge. To sum up what I’ve just said, find a show or movie that relates to your project, and if you’re anything like me, that will get the inspiration wheels turning inside your brain.
3. Take a Walk
I love using places I’ve actually seen in my writing. Once, I went to Hocking Hills in Southern Ohio, and all I did was take pictures. The scenery was gorgeous and exactly what I imagined for my book. So I took hundreds of pictures on my phone, and when I returned, I wrote a brief description of each picture, and then used it in the project I was working on. Sadly, those snippets went into fixing my first novel (a task I should have never even attempted), and I refuse to share that monstrosity with the world, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Also, I know that walking around in the metroparks, or even my backyard, can sometimes make me feel like I’m in a fantasy world. To me, there is nothing quite like being surrounded by trees and wildlife that truly immerses me in what I’m writing. Or, if you’re not writing fantasy, chose a setting that would be pertinent to your story.
4. Experience the World as Your Characters Would
Now this one can be a little difficult and you may look a little crazy, but let me explain. I did this for my previous novel and I’ve never had so much fun in my life. After recruiting my seven-year old brother to help me (so I didn’t look silly playing make-believe, obviously) and doing some research, we went on a journey of building shelters similar to those the Ancient Celts built, using only materials that were available to them (we ended up with a too small, crooked lean-to made out of sticks, lily leaves, pine needles, dead leaves, moss, and wild onions, which is not necessarily correct, but close enough ); gathered plants and food (wild onions and some blackberries that grow in bushes near my house); cooked meals that they possibly could have eaten (lumpy oat cakes and fresh butter. However, we did not preserve our butter in bogs as offering to the gods. We were going to attempt to make boar stew, but were stopped by my mother, who kept claiming that there wasn’t much boar in Ohio); followed deer trails to find water (even if we already knew there was a river there); and tried to start a fire (we went through a whole box of matches with no luck, but in our defense it was a small box and it was very windy). After doing this, I found that my writing could be more believable, since I knew what I was talking about and not just making things up, but also, it was really just a lot of fun and I would do it again.
I’d like to finish this post out with a quote, since I think it’s pertinent and defeats the purpose of this post, since I’m talking about finding inspiration.
“We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.” ~ Frank Tibolt
So maybe that’s what I should do. Stop searching for inspiration and just write, even if it is terrible. It’s worth a try.