A red sheathed writing pen laying on top of white paper with typing on it. Some words are crossed out with red ink.

Shhhhh! and Write

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The world if full of inspiration for stories, characters, and plots. This month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group question to share is: when you are working on a story, what inspires you to write? Join us in our blog hop to get tips from other authors and meet like-minded writers. Links to the blog hop are below.

So, where do I find my inspiration?

swimmers

A year ago, I would have said my best ideas come to me in the middle of a 60-mile bike ride or a 1-mile swim. But injury left me finding other alternatives. In that process, I’ve learned a few tips to share. Let me know if they help in the comments below and add in your own suggestions.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

The laundry, writing, vacuuming, the dishes, writing, work…you see where I’m going with this? Life can be so busy, that we squeeze a tiny bit of writing into the mix. It becomes just another chore. I see so many writer’s stress themselves over getting in that word count daily, even when they’re exhausted or overworked. And then wondering why inspiration evades them. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I’ve often talked about using my iNotes feature so I can write on my phone while standing in line at the store. I was proud to be using every. single. moment. to its fullest. Why…I had 20,000 words in iNotes at last count.

And you know what? It was exhausting! And my writing suffered.

Writer’s Block and Other Painful Lessons

A black fuel tank gauge with the red needle pointing to E

Forcing writing into my daily life led to creative exhaustion and writer’s block. Which made the stress of writing worse. I mean, it’s kinda hard to finish a manuscript when you’re creatively fatigued and running on emotional empty. Click here, for tips on refueling your creative energies.

Accidental Answers

I’ve never loved being injured, but I have to credit my last injury to a big writing lesson. For a bit, I was forced to just sit. At first, it was very difficult mentally. I was just sitting. No chores were getting done, the laundry was piling up. But at one point, I actually caught myself daydreaming. And I realized I hadn’t really daydreamed in eons. Sure, I had forced myself to be creative about plots and characters. But there had never been time to just actually let my mind wander.

And the ideas came to me. Plot hole fixes, character motivations.

Tips for Writing Inspiration

My epiphany about daydreaming gave rise to some new writing behaviors that have helped me find more and better inspiration. Writing still has its ups and downs, the great days and the frustrating ones. Nothing is perfect. (Here are some tips for dealing with those rough days.) But I find I like the process more now. It’s less of a chore. Give these a try, and see if they help you:

A woman sitting atop a rock at the top of a mountain overlooking other mountain vistas with a bright white obscuring part of the horizon.
  • Shhhhh!

It won’t surprise you to know my first suggestion is to have a few moments of quiet. Yes, I know that can be very challenging in this fast paced, over-scheduled world. But you also have some degree of power over it.

Keep in mind that you may need some time to adapt. At first, you may stress yourself over downtime, worrying about what you are not getting done. But if you hang in there, you’ll get used to that little bit of quiet inspirational time.

  • Turn Off and Tune Out:
    • Put your phone in another room so you are less inclined to check it for every message coming in. They’ll be there after your few minutes of mental rest.
    • Put a timer on social media- your phone can be set to lock you out of social media after a certain amount of time each day. Social media is such a huge distraction. That 5 minutes you planned to surf the web can quickly become an hour.
    • Seclude yourself. If you can take a walk in a park do that. If you can only sit somewhere with a door between you and the distractions, do that. Find a place with just a little bit of quiet. Leave the headphones behind and just melt into your mind.
    • Pink noise- if you can’t find quiet, plug into your headphones and run some background pink or white noise to shut out the world, then close your eyes and allow your mind to wander.
  • Purposeful Daydreaming

When you do want to allow the word to offer ideas, planning for some purposeful input can give you great inspiration. It’s important, though, to remember what you’re doing, so that you don’t get pulled back into the busy world. Find places where you can get input, but can also remove yourself after a short period. Consider using a timer on your phone, if that helps.

I call this daydreaming, even though it’s really data gathering, since I often find myself mentally back in my manuscript, trying out the new character or idea. For example, on my last hike, I spent a portion of the time watching the misted mountain in front of me, while my brain was sketching it into my fantasy: the mist became dragon’s breath, the mountain a lair.

A couple of places I find inspiration are included below, but there are obviously endless possibilities.

Athlete sitting on the ground changing gear during triathlon transition next to a rack of triathlon bikes.
  • People watching-the open air market or a mall can be great places to see all kinds of people, personality types, and interactions. Yes, I do take notes while I’m there. It keeps me on task, keeps me purposeful.
  • News headlines- JUST the headlines. Trolling media can be a rich resource for stories, plots, and oddities. Just last week, I found an article on a very unusual form of drug smuggling and a story about a nurse that stole fentanyl to feed her own addiction. Are these now woven into the newest edit of my manuscript? You betcha!
  • Events- local big events, such as music festivals, car shows, or food festivals can be inspirational. Personally, I watch local triathlons, even when I’m not racing. From the athletes to their families, there are so many different ideas and personalities to discover. Often, the backstories of the athletes, themselves, can offer great character arc ideas.

Where do you get your inspiration to write?

Share your ideas in the comments and then check out these other bloggers to meet new writerly friends!

The awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Meka James, Victoria Marie Lees, and M Louise Barbour!

7 Comments

  1. I feel this in my core. So much to do every day with kids, family, work. I’m marketing my book even harder right now because it releases this month. And I’m exhausted! I keep looking for those likes and comments and just need to post my bit and get off of social media and instead do whatever it is that feels right. Whether that is writing, or that’s working in my garden. Great reminder to try to quiet my currently over-stimulated brain.

    1. Hi Kristina- Thanks for dropping by. Good luck with your book launch. And I agree- it’s very easy to get caught up in checking social media for the likes and such-it can be stressful and very distracting to the daily actual goals.

  2. So sorry to hear about your injury that sidelined your biking and swimming. I know what you mean about fitting in writing with other things that need to get done. And you are right. Without my doing the dishes, laundry, etc., it wouldn’t get done. Nuts!

    However, you’ve given us all great ideas for inspiration and how to move forward in our projects. I’ve never heard of “pink” noise. Great ideas here, Miffie. Thank you!

    1. Hi Victoria- Yes, the pink noise sound track on Spotify has been a lifesafer for me to be able to focus in a noisy world! I know there are other sound-masking tracks, the pitch of the pink noise just works best for me. Good luck with your writing.

  3. Good post. Excellent tips.
    I’m co-hosting at the IWSG this month. Did you know that June is Audiobook Appreciation Month?

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Speculative Fiction &Reference Author, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, and Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge

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