How To Find Writing Inspiration To Finish (Or Start) Your Next Book
As a writer, I am sure you are familiar with that dreadful feeling of staring at a blank screen and having nothing happen.
No words. Crickets in your brain. The dreaded writer’s block.
That feeling of being stuck and losing motivation may make it tempting to walk away from your writing and make up excuses to procrastinate.
However, if you want to be a writer, you can’t wait for inspiration to find you.
You have to be proactive and find the inspiration yourself.
You have to generate your own momentum to write.
Once you’re able to do that, you have to work to keep the momentum going and find ways to write even when inspiration is on strike.
So, how do you find writers inspiration?
What inspires you won’t necessarily inspire another writer and vice versa.
As a writer and as a person, you have your own unique experiences and triggers. But one thing you should know by now is that inspiration isn’t something you wait around for.
You go after it. If inspiration were a person, she’d like to know she’s worth the effort.
Here are 30 ideas for writing inspiration.
1. Recognize that you have nothing to lose.
It is possible that you are lacking inspiration because you are scared that your writing isn’t good enough. You may feel like people are waiting for you to fail and your inadequacies will be shown in your work.
The truth is, in the grand scheme of most people’s lives, you’re insignificant. This is a harsh truth, but it is important to recognize that the world isn’t focused on you. But this awareness can be liberating.
Even if you fail a few times with your writing, it’s a learning experience, and you improve with everything you write.
We recommend you have a good editor for every book, no matter how great a writer you are. A professional editor will make sure you don’t put out anything with glaring errors.
Insecurity is common for most writers, but try not to let it hamper your creativity. Give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft,” and you can polish and shine it later.
2. Listen to other people talk.
If you are out to lunch, in line at the grocery store, or anywhere in public, listen in on some of the conversations around you.
It is fascinating to take a look at other people’s lives for a minute and try to put some pieces together. If you happen to overhear a bit of intriguing dialog, write it down in your journal as soon as you can.
This may become some inspiration for writing in the future.
3. Spend time with children.
Interact with children and look at their fresh perspective of the world.
Their innocence may help inspire you and bring you back to the basics. Spending time with children can help you be reflective of your life and about humanity in general.
They can also make some of the most complicated things in life seem so simple.
4. Try freewriting.
You have probably heard that the best way to fuel your inspiration to write is to just write.
This is true, and while a lot of the things you write during a freewriting session will end up on the cutting room floor, it may just take that one idea to spark something great and lead to a flood of new book ideas.
5. Get a change of scenery.
If you have been sitting in the same spot feeling uninspired for quite some time, get up and get out.
Go outside for a walk, pick up your laptop and take it to a nearby coffee shop, or even just change the background picture on your computer.
Change up something to add some new scenery to your day, and it may be able to spark your motivation and creativity.
If you can’t get out, you can simply imagine yourself in a new place. Think about what it would feel like to lie back in a hammock in Tahiti.
Imagine the warm weather surrounding you and the fresh breeze coming from the ocean. There has always been a link between traveling and writing.
Even if you can’t physically up and leave to go on a trip, spending a bit of time visualizing an exotic vacation can give you some valuable inspiration to write.
6. Read the current breaking news.
You can find a lot of news stories, both local and global, that can inspire stories for a novel or a mystery, or topics for a biography or how-to book.
Use your imagination to extrapolate more information and ideas for a topic to write about from what’s happening in the world.
Not only will this inspire you to write, but it will also help you write something relevant in this rapidly-evolving and changing culture.
7. Join a writing group.
Joining a writing group will allow you to engage in conversation with fellow writers who likely understand the struggle of losing inspiration at times.
Listen to other members talk to each other and throw around some ideas with them about some future writings for yourself.
Maybe an old idea for writing that you trashed could come back to life and they could help you develop the concept further.
Just being around other writers can inspire and motivate you.
Related: How to Find Your Peak Writing State
8. Surround yourself with great work.
This doesn’t have to be other writers. You can go to an art museum, a concert, or go see a ballet.
Seeing (or hearing) beautiful art in various other forms can be an inspiration to you as you are trying to write your next bestseller.
When you are looking at other people’s work, let the passion and talent from the artists inspire you to put pen to paper.
9. Read everything.
You won’t be a successful writer without being an avid reader.
Read all different types of material. If you strictly write non-fiction, find some fiction to read. If you write about current things, read some ancient Greek mythology.
As William Faulkner reminds us, “Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.”
Reading will open new doors in your brain and facilitate new connections among your ideas. It also improves your vocabulary, comprehension, concentration, and exposes you to different writing styles.
When you read a lot, your writing will improve — and this is great for your inspiration.
10. Find instant inspiration.
Use Google to get some quick inspiration. If you feel stuck, doing a bit of online research is a fast way to get innumerable ideas for your topic.
You don’t always have to create new topics by yourself, and the process of looking around a bit could give you a jump start, which is the biggest step.
You aren’t plagiarizing to put your own spin on someone else’s thoughts. Very few book topics are completely unique. Your voice as an author is what makes you different and stand out from the rest.
11. Use hypothetical questions.
Ask yourself, “What if?” What if Neanderthals had not become extinct? What if you fell into a black hole? How would the world be different if it was twice as big?
You can ask yourself questions for non-fiction books as well that can spark ideas. What knowledge do I have that can help other people? What challenges are people facing today and what solutions do they need?
Thinking about the answers to hypothetical questions can really get your brain moving. These open-ended questions give you endless areas to explore and can provide you with some great ideas for content.
12. Go straight to the source.
Reach out to some writers who have inspired you in the past and ask them for some advice.
There is actually a right and a wrong way to do this. First, you will want to shoot them an email thanking them for the work they’ve done. Mention that you have used something in your own work that they’ve taught you.
After your first email, return to the conversation and ask a specific question. Don’t just ask them in general if they can help you.
Most authors will be willing to help if they have the time. Use their advice as inspiration, follow up with them, and after you use their advice, let them know how it helped you.
13. Take an online writing course.
Research some online writing or self-publishing courses that successful writers have taken and follow in their footsteps.
This may inspire you to up your game in the writing industry and motivate you to work harder.
Finding the right online classes that are taught by the right instructors is important.
If you are given a blueprint for your writing success, you will build your confidence and have the ability to follow through with the necessary steps to create something valuable.
14. Find creative writing inspiration with prompts.
One of the best sources of story inspiration is a supply of writing prompts. Here’s a sampling to get you started.
You wake up in the middle of the night still remembering key elements of a dream you’ve been having for days, now.
You take some action, inspired by the dream, and it leads you to someone who strongly resembles one of the characters in this dream.
You feel an immediate connection, but nothing can happen between you… Or can it?
Related Post: 252 of the Best Writing Prompts for All Writers
You’re walking down a familiar path and find that when you reach the fork in the path, you see two shadows for yourself.
Once you take your accustomed path, though, you only see one.
Out of curiosity, you try the other path, and both shadows accompany you. The path leads you to a place you’d all but forgotten…
In the middle of summer, you dream of snow, and you wake up to the snowflakes drifting into your bedroom through your open window.
You look outside, and a snowman is standing in the yard right outside your window. It’s 5:55 a.m.
Your grandmother has a garden you admire, and you often see her working in it when you visit.
One afternoon, you find her tending a new rosebush with unusual care and caution. She seems unsettled, and you ask why.
She hesitates then shakes her head, giving you a smile and her usual tilt of the head, but you know something is wrong.
You ask what type of roses will bloom on the new bush, and she tells you they’re an exotic and very delicate variety, so you must never touch them.
The president shows up at your door and begs you to hide him.
“They’re after me,” he frantically whispers, and while you don’t want to see anyone murdered, you also hesitate to endanger your family by allowing him to take shelter in your home.
You look around to see if anyone is with him, but he’s alone, so you let him in.
15. Face your challenges.
Writers often fail because they steer clear of obstacles and challenges.
Most writers are unable to find the hidden inspiration and lessons in failure. When a team just barely loses in a championship game, they work harder the next season because they know that winning is within their reach.
Likewise, when something you write gets some bad reviews, examine with an open mind whether or not there is truth in the criticism.
If there is some truth, use it as inspiration to write even better next time. Real inspiration isn’t always sweet; truly inspired people are determined, persistent, and walk directly into the flames of failure.
16. Make an investment in your writing.
Spending some money on your writing will give you the inspiration to create great work because you are showing yourself that you are serious. Writing as a hobby does not always feel inspiring, but writing professionally does.
To become a pro, you do the writing, but you also treat your work like a business. Making a financial investment in your writing will inspire you to live up to the idea of being a professional.
You can always tell that someone is not serious about their writing if they are not willing to put their money where their mouth is.
Invest in helpful tools that will help you grow your fan base and your platform. Invest in more education. Invest in the tools you may need to write high-quality books.
The more money you invest, the more likely you will feel attached to your work.
17. Think about the writers that you admire.
Have you ever felt deep admiration (maybe even a little envy) for another writer because of the things they have accomplished?
Use this admiration as fuel for inspiration to improve. Think about how they got to where they are and trace those steps yourself. Don’t just admire and long to be better — improve yourself.
18. Don’t force your writing. Start over.
If you are well into a book and have come to an impasse that is just not letting you move on, put it aside and start over.
Don’t try to force a book that is not going anywhere. Sometimes just having a blank slate is inspiring, and it will give you a sense of relief to drop some work that has been causing you stress.
If you don’t want to start over, just put the work aside for several days to see if it looks and feels any better coming back to it.
19. Give yourself firm writing deadlines.
It is probably best to give yourself many small deadlines rather than one big one, but you have to remain firm with them. Having the pressure of time on you will often give you the inspiration that you need.
Most professional writers work on a schedule, whether or not they feel motivated or inspired. You might use a number of words you want to write a day, or you might decide that you have to write for a certain number of hours.
Even if you write gibberish, it’s important to keep your writing schedule. You can always come back and edit or rewrite.
20. Read some writing inspiration quotes or journal prompts.
There is a reason why quotes are passed on to other people. They are often uplifting and provide you with the motivation you need to accomplish something. Read some quotes on writing well to see if anything sparks you.
Just as we see farther when we stand on the shoulders of giants, we can glean inspiration for writing projects by familiarizing ourselves with the words of writers who’ve gone before us.
Not all inspirational quotes have to come from fellow authors, though. You can gain inspiration from quotes you find in a variety of sources:
- News stories and newspaper headlines
- Gravestone inscriptions or memorial quotes
- Reader reviews for a previous book or novel
- Books you’re reading or have read — including those you don’t like
- Audiobooks and podcasts
- Movies and related quotes
- Your own journal entries or the stories you tell others about your experiences
- Autobiographical or remembered stories you hear from others
- The overheard conversations of strangers
For the purposes of this article, though, we’re including some quotes you may or may not be familiar with:
“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” — Lloyd Alexander
“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.” — Stephen King
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour
“After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” — Philip Pullman
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” — Kurt Vonnegut
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” — Anne Frank
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” — Franz Kafka
“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.” — Joss Whedon
“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it?…” — Stephen King
“That’s what fiction is for. It’s for getting at the truth when the truth isn’t sufficient for the truth.” — Tim O’Brien
You can also jumpstart your motivation by writing with journal prompts. Just getting your creative juices flowing with journaling might be enough to move the needle for your writing project.
21. Tune out other people.
When you are writing your rough draft, tune out the voices of everyone else. You can welcome them back in when you are working on your final draft.
This lets you forget anyone else’s opinion but your own when you are writing.
If you allow yourself to imagine what other people are going to say about your writing, you will get frustrated.
Finish your rough draft while only listening to your own instincts. You can worry about how people may react when you are doing your revisions.
22. Remember your “Why” for writing.
Think about why you are writing. When you forget the reasons you began to write in the first place, writing will likely start to feel more like a chore.
Turn your writing from a chore to a satisfaction by thinking about what got you here in the first place. Are you writing to bring other people joy, to solve problems, to inspire?
Keep this reason at the forefront of your mind as you write. You might even visualize people getting enjoyment and use from your book.
23. Meditation and deep breathing.
Take some time to stop trying so hard to find inspiration and allow your mind to be clear.
Taking some deep breaths will allow you to approach your writing again with focus and attention. Focus on each breath as you inhale and exhale.
Try to notice your thoughts without judging them or attaching to them. Give your mind a bit a space to ease your stress.
24. Listen to music.
Some people like to listen to music when they write, but it is also a good idea to take some time before you sit down to write to just listen to music without doing anything else.
Listening to music may help you generate new ideas.
In fact, a 2017 study suggests that listening to happy music promotes more divergent thinking which is a key element of creativity.
25. Find writing inspiration pictures.
If you’re looking for a great new idea for a book, why not look at pictures? In this section, you’ll see several images that might trigger a subtle concept or idea for your next book or story.
A single image that appeals to your senses might also provoke an intuitive response and bring ideas from beneath the surface to your conscious mind.
This is more likely to happen, though, if you’ve already expressed a desire to receive inspiration for a particular project or a specific part of it.
As mentioned before, if you want inspiration, don’t hesitate to ask for it and to follow the trail it leaves for you. Once you articulate your desires, you’re far more likely to receive what you truly want — especially when you expect to.
So, look around you expecting to find the inspiration you need. You’re not living in an idea vacuum, and inspiration isn’t a rare commodity. Try any of the following image sources:
- Your phone’s image gallery
- Pixabay.com or Unsplash.com
- Google (etc.) image searches
- Photo albums
- Newspapers or magazines
- Your internet browser’s home page
Have you ever seen a painting and felt an immediate connection with it or with the mind behind it?
It drew you in, and you couldn’t explain why, but you had to find out whether it was for sale. Some part of you felt that it belonged with you, though you couldn’t explain or remember why.
Someone else might have said, “It’s just a painting of an old dockside shack with a boat tethered to one of the posts. You could probably find something like that at Target for cheaper.”
But you knew there was more to the painting than the concrete images you saw in it.
Those who don’t know what’s going on might just think you like boats or you like pictures with water in them. But there’s something there that isn’t concrete and can’t be copied. It’s as unique as a fingerprint and as difficult to grasp as a breath.
You don’t really see it with your physical eyes, but you feel it in a way that others don’t — as if it was there just for you. But you don’t know just yet whether someone else put it there or you put it there yourself.
26. Write down everything that makes you laugh for one week.
While it may seem tedious to remember to jot down the reason behind every funny moment, it could give you a great source of material for your writing.
Try to keep track of who made you laugh, why it was funny, and how it made you feel. This may help give you your favorite material to come back and read in the future.
27. Listen to writing podcasts.
There are so many excellent podcasts on writing and self-publishing.
If you need the inspiration to write, the experts who host these podcasts can address any of the blocks, fears, or low motivation that might be holding you back.
Hop on iTunes and find a few that speak to you and cover topics relevant to your writing goals and needs.
28. Get some exercise.
Get your blood pumping and stimulate your mind by going for a run or participating in a solitary sport. Doing this will help you feel refreshed and give you some time to liberate your brain.
I’ve come up with some of my best ideas for my books while I was on the running trail.
Exercising will also help you develop more willpower, patience, and find a new sense of purpose.
29. Find what works for you.
Some people have noted that they can’t start writing without experiencing the smell of coffee. Others say they have to be outdoors to get a jump start.
Some have to write in the morning while their minds are fresh. Others prefer writing late into the night.
Try to identify the habits that you have that spark your creativity. Resort to these habits when you need inspiration.
30. Have fun with it.
If you force yourself to write to the point of exhaustion, you will be miserable.
Don’t write about topics that don’t excite you or inspire you to look forward to writing. Write about the topics that you feel passionate about and really bring you joy.
Did you find writing inspiration here?
I hope the ideas in this article will help you find the inspiration you need when you need it.
Ideas are everywhere. The trick is narrowing down your options and deciding which one to focus on first.
Try doing an image search using a word that is important to your current work in progress — or a word that keeps showing up.
Or play music by a favorite performer and make mental movies to go with each tune.
Or stop by websites like Writer’s Digest and check out their free writing prompts.
However you get your inspiration most of the time, it can’t hurt to explore other ways to juice up your story engine. May you never again have difficulty finding inspiration for your creative writing projects.
And when you’re ready to publish, check out other posts on Authority pub for next steps in launching your book, marketing, setting up ads, getting reviews, etc.
The most important thing when you are looking for inspiration to write is to not give up.
Try a few of these tricks to see what works for you.
Writing inspiration will come to you eventually, you just have to be patient and don’t try to force it.