10 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing
Do you need some inspiration?
Anyone can run out of ideas. Sometimes you need to take a short break from writing in order to think of new topics, and other times you can find inspiration for your writing all around you.
Leo Babauta’s popular blogs Zen Habits and Write to Done are filled with advice and inspiration for bloggers and other writers. Because he generously allows anyone to use his writing for any reason, I decided to share ten of his useful tips on getting ideas for your blog.
1. Overheard Dialogue
If I’m anywhere public, whether it be at a park or a mall or my workplace, sometimes I’ll eavesdrop on people. Not in a gross way or anything, but I’ll just keep quiet, and listen. I love hearing other people have conversations. Sometimes it doesn’t happen on purpose—you can’t help but overhear people sometimes. If you happen to overhear a snippet of interesting dialog, jot it down in your writing journal as soon as possible. It can serve as a model or inspiration for later writing.
Good magazines aren’t always filled with great writing, but you can usually find one good piece of either fiction or non-fiction. Good for its writing style, its voice, its rhythm and ability to pull you along to the end. These pieces inspire me.
Bad magazines, while perhaps not the best models for writing, can still be inspirations for ideas for good blog posts. These magazines, as they don’t draw readers with great writing, find interesting story angles to attract an audience.
Maybe my favorite overall. I read writers I love, and then I steal from them, analyze their writing, get inspired by their greatness. If you normally read just a couple of your favorite authors, try branching out into something different. You just might find new inspiration.
Sometimes, while watching a movie, a character will say something so interesting that I’ll say, “That would make a great blog post!” or “I have to write that in my writing journal!” Sometimes screenwriters can write beautiful dialog. Other times I get inspired by the incredible camera work, the way that a face is framed by the camera, the beauty of the landscape captured on film.
When people write on forums, they rarely do so for style or beauty (there are exceptions, of course, but they’re rare). They are writing to convey information and ideas. Still, those ideas can be beautiful and inspiring in and of themselves. They can inspire more ideas in you.
For the writer aspiring to greater heights, there is no better inspiration that great art, in my experience. While it doesn’t compare to the experience of seeing the art in person, I like to find inspiring works of art and put it on my computer desktop for contemplation (Michelangelo’s Pieta is there right now).
Along the same lines, it can be inspiring to download and play great music, from Mozart to Beethoven to the Beatles to Radiohead. Play it in the background as you write, and allow it to lift you up and move you.
Conversations with my friends, in real life, on the phone or online, have inspired some of my best posts. They stir up my ideas, contribute ideas of their own, and they fuse into something even more brilliant than either of us could have created.
9. Writing groups
Whether online or in your community, writing groups are great ways to get energy and motivation for your writing. My best short stories were done in a writing group in my local college (a great place to look for such groups, by the way), as we read our work to the group, critiqued them and made suggestions. The work of the other writers inspired me to do better.
Similar to freewriting, but instead of writing prose you’re writing ideas. Just let them flow. Speed and quantity is more important than quality. Within this brainstorm of ideas, you’ll most likely find a few nuggets of greatness.
Final note from Blog Rehab: I hope this post can help you discover new blog topics if you’re ever feeling stuck. Leo Babauta’s radical statement that he had removed all the copyrights from his material shows that he thinks outside the box and has a generous spirit of helping.