Avoiding writer’s block is something that writers and authors struggle with from time to time.
What do I write about that is worth reading?
What can I write that will hold people’s attention?
These questions and more can plague a writer if they don’t have a source of inspiration.
How does one find inspiration?
If you have trouble coming up with ideas for a story or article, look no further. I will share with you my tips and tricks to help you get back behind the wheel of writing. These are by no means in any order other than they work in some way or another.
- Brainstorm. You’ve done this in school and may have hated it, but it works. Find a word or phrase that catches your attention and go for it.
- Pictures. I’ve used pictures as a way to find a story. While I have a favorite website that I go to, you can also easily just search general pictures until something sparks a thought. I like to find a picture of someone or a group of people and ask myself, “What is going on in this world?”
- Emotions. Emotions are a huge driving factor for stories. Pick one and write a powerful story focusing on that emotion as the main fuel for the fire.
- Music. Music is one of the top 3 for me. If I need to have a certain thought process (anger, sadness, joyful bliss) I will go to YouTube and pull up music that helps me get that mindset.
- Prompts. Writing prompts might seem like a limiting factor to some but my mind was personally changed recently when I entered a writing contest. I was given three prompts for a story under 3,000 words and was very surprised at the end result. This has led me to have a book to work on now that full of mystery, action, and untold surprises. What were the prompts you ask? Action: capturing. Emotion: cold-hearted. Object: onyx-embellished dagger.
- Color. Color may not sound like a very good story inspiring thing but do this as a test; wake up before the sunrise and watch the world around you come alive. When you are first looking out the window, (or if the weather is nice enough, go outside and experience it firsthand!) notice first the darkness and the lack of colors. Things will seem grey and devoid of life, but once the sun begins to peek over the horizon, the grass seems to glow with a green radiance and the neighboring house will pick up the whiteness of the light and throw it back at you making you notice the brightness of the morning. It is simply amazing to see the world come alive this way!
- Pick a word. Grab a dictionary and randomly flip to a page and note the first word that you come across. This is your story prompt. Here is my example: villenage; n. the holding of land at the will of a feudal lord, 2: the status of a villein. This allows for a story that could go any number of ways; the village slave yearns for freedom but because of family is unable to escape, the lord could be gathering land illegally and forcing people to take drastic measures. Set this back in the Anglo-Saxon period and make something happen.
God created animals for many reasons, one of them, I believe is that we should learn from them. The ant is mentioned as they gather their food during the summer while the slack-hearted enjoy the weather and starve later on. Dogs are known to return to their own vomit and eat it while people do the exact same thing with toxic relationships. We know that we shouldn’t do it, yet we find ourselves returning to the same gross pile of refuse time and time again.
- Food. We all eat food whether we like to or not. Food has so many inspiring thoughts involved with it that an entire page could be written about it alone. How does eating something make you feel? Do you only eat when you are emotional? Is it a comfort to you? Does it remind you of past family members when you smell fried chicken? Think of the good and bad things associated with food; diets, nutrition and exercise, social gatherings, stress relief, diseases, memories.
- Sight. Go somewhere you’ve never been and look around. What do you see? How does it make you feel? What is the history of the area?
- Sound. If you still have you hearing, listen to things around you.
But add this twist to it; if you find something annoying, pull that annoyance out of the sound and hear it again. What do you hear? Was it because the sound is connecting an old memory that you have buried in the closet that you find it annoying? Some people find the ticking of an analog clock to be annoying. Why is this? Could be because it is a constant reminder of the time they feel they are wasting waiting on something to be done. Maybe they don’t like the constant ticking sound and would rather have silence? Maybe they are grieving and it is a form of pressure on their mind?
- Smell. Our sense of smell affects a lot of things. Did you know that if you have melted butter and you close your nose off to the smell of it, you will think it is water based on taste alone? You don’t recognize that it is butter until you include your sniffer. Think about how a flower smells to you. Or, to take it the other way, think about how miserable one feels while suffering from allergies.
- Touch. Our sense of touch is an amazing sensory tool.
How many times in a love story is one sent shivers up their spine when the one they love lightly touches the back of the neck with a kiss? The gentle caress of her husband spoke volumes of the amount of love he had for her. Include this is your story and watch people be physically moved by your descriptions.
- Plants. Plants are another great thing to look to for inspiration. Orchids can be exotically wonderful to look at, yet they must have a precise environment to bloom. Trees can bear fruit that is either good or bad and we know the condition of a tree by the quality of their fruit. If a tree produces bad fruit, we cut it down and throw it into the fire.
- Weather conditions. You might not think of weather conditions as a very good story prompt, but I would beg to differ. Think about the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy didn’t just pack up her bags and decide to move to Oz, a tornado helped her get started on her journey. Speaking of tornadoes, think about the Joplin tornado, or perhaps the great dust bowl, or earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and the list goes on and on.
- Age. This is a great story prompt because it affects the entire story line. When writing about someone that fought in World War 2, you are not going to be using modern language. Likewise if you are writing for a young audience, you will probably want to use language that they use so that they can relate to it better.
- Environment. I’m not talking about saving the planet here. I’m talking about what the environment is like where you are. Do you live near the desert? Coast line? Mountain ranges? All of these are unique in there own way. You don’t find whales living in New Mexico or flamingoes in South Dakota, so keep things true to their environment.
- Family experiences. We all have a story to tell, just ask someone to tell you theirs. I’m continually surprised at what different people are dealing with or have dealt with.
- Time era. This is another of those factors that affect the entire story. Future based? Caveman era? Are dinosaurs involved in your story? How do they react to the things around them?
- Look to yourself. While this may seem like something many writers would want to avoid, you know your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Employ them into your characters to help bring them alive. It doesn’t have to be a major thing either. Pick nail biting as a quirk. This signifies either nervousness or anxiety or it could be a habit that was formed years ago and the person isn’t even aware they are doing it.
This is by no means a complete list. The entire world is out there just waiting to hear your story if you will just tell it.
Got an idea that I missed? Drop it in the comments below.