As Picasso once said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” However, sometimes we get stuck and working harder is not enough. This may be because we can’t think of what to write, or it may happen because we don’t find the best way to proceed once we’ve started writing. When that happens, where do you look for inspiration?
Every writer is different, and what inspires me might not inspire you. Some people need a lot of fuss around them in order to get inspired, while other people work better in silence. The truth is the muse appears more frequently in certain places. These are my favorite locations for inspiration:
1. Airports and Stations
There are always people on the move with farewells and reunions. Emotions are always bubbling close to the surface along with constant changes and lots of energy in the air waiting for someone to turn all of it into good stories.
2. Fitness/Sports Facilities
I mean the gym here, but I also include the swimming pool, the promenade where you ride your bicycle, the park where you go jogging, etc. Exercise is very helpful when you feel blocked. It’s relaxing, puts your brain into gear, and fills you with oxygen.
I don’t care whether it’s at the beach or in the mountains, but a walk outdoors is a relaxing and introspective method that helps you think clearly.
4. Museums and Exhibitions
These are perfect places to open yourself up to new experiences and learning new things. Never go there without a notebook and a pen!
Music can be a great starting point to find ideas. Go to a concert, play a CD in the car, put on your headphones while strolling around or relaxing on the couch and listen to your favorite jazz album. Anything goes!
Going to the theatre is a pleasure, and not just because of the plays presented on stage. They are also pleasurable because the proximity between the actors and the audience generates an energy very difficult to find in other art forms. The theatre is a place that will lift your spirits and fill your head with creative thoughts.
7. Bookstores and Libraries …
… and books in general. When you don’t know what to write about, sometimes the best thing you can do is close your notebook or your word processor and start reading as many books as you can (fiction, poetry, theatre, essays, etc.) until you’ve accumulated so much data that you can start producing from all of the information you’ve absorbed.
Sitting at the computer is like opening a window to the world. Sometimes it can be dangerous because it makes us waste time surfing the internet without a direction in mind. But other times, it can be a source of inspiration. For example, there are sites like Free Historical Stock Photos where you’ll find a huge collection of old photographs that will probably whet your writing appetite.
9. Children’s Books and Dreams
I’ve put these in a separate category because sometimes the best method to avoid writer’s block and be inspired is to think differently in a crazy manner. That “unreasonable” way of thinking is usually very well reflected in children’s dreams and in the stories they read.
To begin with, try reading Alice in Wonderland or Michael Ende’s novels. They’ll expose you to worlds where things are never what they seem. To immerse yourself in a world that is turned upside down is a fantastic exercise to bring your creativity to life.
10. Your Pillow
A very interesting technique to deal with writing-related problems is to go to bed thinking about the problem you’ve been unable to solve. For example, while you’re trying to go to sleep, reflect on how the character you’re writing about should react to a certain situation or think about what should happen next so the plot makes sense.
By doing this, you’re sending questions to your subconscious mind, and while you’re asleep, it will work on the problem on its own. You’d better have a notebook and a pen near your bed because it’s possible your subconscious will find the solution, and you will wake up in the middle of the night with an “aha!” feeling. You might find the answer to your problem the next morning while taking a shower or eating your breakfast. This method doesn’t always work, but since it doesn’t require much effort, don’t you think it’s worth a try?
11. A Blank Page
One of my favorite places to find inspiration is on blank page where I can use the free writing technique. When I’m looking for new ideas, I usually resort to a writing prompt and then write whatever comes to my mind.
Conversely, if I want to know how to continue with a story in progress, I write out the question or questions that need to be answered before I can keep writing. Below those questions, I’ll jot down all the possible solutions. It doesn’t matter if some of them sound ridiculous because I’m just brainstorming. Later on, I’ll have plenty of time to choose the answer that best fits my story.
12. A Little Bit of Everything
It can also work well to mix several of the tips listed previously at the same time. For example, you can start with free writing, and then go for a walk, have a little nap, or go jogging. If you can’t think of anything, return to the blank page, and I bet you’ll find a bunch of good ideas in your brain just waiting for you to write them down.
In short, ideas are everywhere. If you have patience, you’ll find the one you’re looking for sooner or later.