Inspiring your Inspiration

Today's blog post was accidental.  I was sitting there, staring at a blank screen, trying to figure out what I wanted to blog about today.  Something deep,  something profound.  Something that will change your life forever.  I knew that, if I kept sitting there and thinking about it, it would come to me. 

But it didn't. 

So I tried every trick in the book.  I went for a walk to get some air.  Nothing.  I browsed the Internet for some ideas.  Zip.  And then it hit me like a brick as I was checking my email:  I am going to write about how to find inspiration. 

Now, let me preface this with what may seem obvious: there is no sure-fire way to get inspired.  You can literally exhaust yourself trying to summon inspiration, short of drawing dark symbols on the ground and chanting in Latin, and you could still end up staring at a screen or pad of paper, a thin line of drool creeping from the corner of your mouth.  Inspiration is not tangible,  it is not something that can be made.  But,  for those times when you find yourself lacking inspiration, these tricks might be able to help you out. 

  • Read your own work. Something old, not something you wrote a few days ago.  If you were on a path before, it will give you a sense of where Old You wanted to go.  That, and you get a sense of pride reading your own work that might motivate you. 

  • Read something else. It can be the same genre or a different one.  Sometimes you can get bored of your own work.  If you can't inspire yourself, let someone else do it for you. 

  • Make a list. This is one of my favourites, and one I employed today.  Sit down with a piece of paper and make a list.  It can be a list of questions you want to answer, a list of characters for future stories, a bunch of topics for future blog posts.  I made a list of twelve future post ideas.  Bonus points if you get fifty. 

  • Active Writing.  This one has always been an outlier for me, but people will swear by its effectiveness.  Grab a piece of paper or open your favourite word processor and set yourself a time limit.  Write non-stop until that time limit is up.  It can be about anything, and don't you dare think about grammar.  If one stream of thought ends, start another.  Not only does it make you generate ideas, but it also lets you go back after and ask why you had to stop that train of thought.  What would come next? 

  • Take a break.  Sometimes what you really need is to just walk away for a bit.  Distance yourself from the printed word.  You can go for a walk, watch a movie, workout, make dinner.  It is entirely possible that you have just drained that font of imagination.  Whenever I write something (including this very post), I will leave it alone overnight, let it think about what it has done, and then go back for a final read-through the next day.  Longer pieces work get more time in between finishing and editing, and sometimes multiple breaks. The same goes for when I come to a roadblock.  Sometimes all you need is time itself. 

Like I said, there is no guarantee that any of these tricks will work.  Even taking a break and walking away can last longer than you expected it to.  But don't get discouraged.  If you truly love doing something, then it is just a matter of time.  Inspiration can act on its own schedule and strike like a lightning bolt.  One minute you can be staring at a blank screen and the next you can feel energized when that bolt hits you.  Other times it just needs a little jumpstart.  Find whatever works best for you and let the inspiration flow.