“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” —Charles Bukowski
I haven’t pounded out a syllable or dirtied a single key. I’ve avoided writing all day. I’m just another creative perplexed by existential roadblocks that are undoubtedly self-created. I don’t know how I arrived here, but I’d be a hypocrite if I couldn’t escape. Let me selfishly help you to help myself; let’s seduce inspiration before she dumps us and elopes with some other schmuck.
Mantra #3: A spectacle of inspiration
- Inspiration usually comes if you force yourself to write. This is the last thing you want to hear.
- Have you thoroughly outlined or brainstormed? If not, that could be why you feel lost and hopeless.
- Scared of a blank page? With work at various stages there’s always something to do: research, editing, characters’ backgrounds, restructuring an act. Alternating tasks also fights mental fatigue and the binge writing that I mentioned in Part I.
- Does the subject material you’re writing about excite you? If not, try switching to something else.
- Create a lookbook: a slideshow of images and audio that illuminates the drama or moods of your piece.
- Exercising before starting your day will give you an energetic boost and keep you from feeling restless.
- Try doing your chores before working. A clear mind is a shpadoinkle thing! This does not work for everyone’s schedule, but it’s absolutely worth a try.
- Keep a dream journal. Learn to wake yourself up to record your brilliant ideas. Lucid dreaming is the best thing for this.
- A personal favorite is to write a character or piece of dialogue that offends you. It’s liberating to escape your comfort zone and see what’s out there.
- Having problems with a character? Write their dialogue as you would for the opposite genre. If it’s drama try comedy, and vice versa. Good writing is about contrast, after all.
- If you feel an emotional response while writing — stop — then go deeper. These moments generally come when we brush against something wondrous.
- Train yourself to write and “Treat yo’ self!” Reward yourself for hard work, not good writing. A beer or some time with your favorite TV show or book works swell.
- Read lots of articles on writing. If something inspires you, let the author know (hint, hint). Dialogue with other writers is often inspiring.
- Peter De Vries famously wrote: “Sometimes I write drunk and revise sober, and sometimes I write sober and revise drunk.”
- There’s a straightforward translation of this. However, try leaving the office and embrace the altered states that come with new surroundings. Go for a walk; work in the park. Inspiration can come from anywhere and often springs from a new or slanted perspective.
- Print your piece and have a new tactile experience: Highlight, tear, read aloud, cry and rewrite. Exporting as PDF can help too. Make your piece look and feel different.
- Try the famous Pomodoro technique: writing for 25-minute intervals with scheduled breaks (more here).
- Write a screenplay-style logline for your piece. This can help you see problems or even inspire better ideas. Writer Blake Snyder explains that you should also pitch your idea to a friend or a stranger.
- Write while listening to interesting and moody music on Spotify or Pandora. I’ll include some Spotify playlists I made below.
I hope something here helps you stay inspired on a cosmic level. Please share your inspirational tips in the comments.
Spotify Playlists to Seduce the Muse
- Romani (Gypsy) Music From Around the World
- Romani/Balkan Dance
- Electro Swing
- Upbeat Indie Rock
- Eclectic Indie Goodness
- Blues, Grass and Truckers
Photo by Andrew Stawarz.