Increase the Likelihood of Inspiration with These Tools
One of the greatest myths about writing is the idea that the writer must wait for inspiration. I don't believe that inspiration is something that we should wait for, but it can be a valuable surprise—sort of like a bonus. So, while we shouldn’t procrastinate because we’re not feeling it, the experience of inspiration can take our work to a new level. Here are five ideas for increasing the likelihood that inspiration will strike.
Finding the music (or ambient sound) that drives your creativity and focus in writing is huge. I can’t say enough about how my music motivates my writing. The impact is so strong that when I hear certain artists, I feel an urge to write. I begin getting ideas for future projects, even if I’m not actively thinking about writing. Add music to your writing routine if you're not using it.
2. New environment
I talk a lot about the power of environment to shape a routine and make it consistent. Something that I don’t mention as much—but which is just as true—is that experimenting with a new environment can spike creativity. Whenever I’m feel like I’m disengaging with my writing, I try writing somewhere new or surrounding myself with new stimuli.
It’s been said a million times before, but it’s still true: great writers are great readers. If you want a surge of creativity, read. I’m amazed by the power of a good book to keep me fired up for my own writing. The books you read don’t need to relate closely to what you are writing. As long as they inspire your creativity, they are making a difference. Some of the most inspiring books that I read are zany science-fiction. Even though I’m not writing science-fiction at this time, these books still inspire me to write.
Conversation with other people does wonders for inspiration. If you can have just one friend who will talk to you openly about your writing, you will greatly increase your creativity. If you can have several people with whom you can talk in a group or even individually, so much the better. There’s something special about bouncing your ideas off of at least one other person; it can greatly boost your creative power.
Here’s a unique one. If you’ve been inspired by certain forms of art in the past, keep a mental file of those works. When you’re feeling discouraged, revisit those pieces. This can serve as a reservoir of creative energy that you tap into when needed. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the art needs to be closely related to what you’re working on. As long as it inspires you to create, it can benefit your writing.
Here’s a personal example of art that inspires. A few years back, my wife surprised me with a large print of one of my favorite photographs. It's the feature photo for this post that you see above. A framed copy hangs near my desk. This is a shot from World War II, during The Battle of Britain. It’s a photo of a bombed out library, a casualty of Nazi air attacks. These English citizens are doing their best to continue life by browsing for books, surrounded by destruction and disorder. The photo moves me because of their commitment and vision. Every time I look at that picture, I’m inspired.
The next time you’re struggling to commit to your writing, think about these sources of inspiration. Try one or more of them. I hope they will empower your writing as they have mine. Always remember that you are ultimately in control of your writing, not your feelings, and that inspiration, while it can be serendipitous, mostly results from the choices we make.