When I’m Not Inspired

Tonight I’m feeling uninspired, not sure what to write about, and the timing couldn’t be better.  One of my readers who comments regularly, Kate, asked me to explore writer’s block (along with inspiration sources and self-doubt, what a combo!) and perhaps a lack of inspiration might be the place to start.

Sometimes ideas just won’t come.  This is particularly troubling when you are working on a deadline, need to write a post for the day, or (heaven forbid!) you are behind on that NaNo word count.  I’ve experienced all of these, at various times, and while none have been life threatening, they aren’t fun either.

I have learned a few things along the way, hitting the snags that come with trying to write almost daily.  Instead of sharing advice as though I was an expert, I’m simply going to tell you about how I’ve worked past a lack of inspiration in my own life.

One major thing that I’ve found helps is to not stress about it.  (This is much harder than it sounds.)  If I start to push, to force my creativity, it will turn into a stubborn two-year-old who is now saying “no” just because you want her to say yes.  A power struggle with my muse is not a fun way to spend my day, so if I sit down to write and the words won’t flow, I get back up and do something else.

Speaking of doing something else, that’s another thing I’ve found useful: doing something.  I like to take a shower, or go for a walk, or even just clean the kitchen.  Inspiration might not be there when I want it, but my brain can be like a sore muscle.  If I get my body working it can sometimes loosen up and the process will be less painful.

I’ll also search for connections within what I am reading or watching.  This has become such a habit that I’ll often think “that would make a great blog post” when I’m not looking for inspiration.  Most of what I read and enjoy doesn’t relate, so it will occasionally feel forced.  This is where forcing it can actually be good exercise rather than a futile effort.  When I try to stretch to make something writing-related, I sometimes stumble across a better idea than the one I had at the start!

One other trick that I’ve discovered is writing something else.  If I am stuck on my NaNo novel, I’ll pause and write a blog post.  (Possibly about being stuck on my novel; why not take advantage of a situation if it presents itself?)  If a certain story just won’t come, I’ll turn to another character from a totally different tale for a while.  Creativity is like water – you can harness it if you do it carefully, but sometimes you just need to go with the flow.

Ok, enough from my experience.  I’m sure there are others out there who hit the same kinds of walls.  How do you handle a lack of inspiration when you’re trying to write?

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. deshipley
    Oct 22, 2012 @ 19:38:30

    Just today I was having inspiration issues during prep for NaNo. While interviewing my second project’s narrating protagonist, he could tell that I was losing enthusiasm — not for him, but for the plot (what little I knew of it). So he basically said to me, “Would you like to take this story in a different direction?”

    I perked up. “Can we?”

    In essence, he answered, “It’s my story. We’ll do what I want!” And he started leading me down an almost entirely new story line, one much more up my alley, but still keeping the elements from the old plot that I didn’t want to lose.

    So, my advice for dealing with blocked inspiration? Turn to the characters! In my experience, they’re the clever ones of the partnership; I’m just the scribe. X)

    Reply

    • Leigh Townsend
      Oct 22, 2012 @ 21:04:41

      I am glad to know that I’m not the only one with characters that talk in her head! (And take the story in an unexpected direction – that’s happened to me, too!)

      Reply

  2. Trackback: Blocks « Butterflies and Dragons

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