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Be Your Own Muse: 3 Inspiration Hacks for When It’s Just Not Coming to You

Finding the motivation to write is easy when you're bursting with ideas—or better yet, when you find yourself excited about one particular idea and absolutely must write it down. Unfortunately, if this was the only instance in which writers sat down to write, no one would ever finish writing anything. Inspiration needs to be backed up by other things, like vision, research, and persistence. But inspiration is a great catalyst and while inspiration doesn't often come flying out of nowhere to land on your head like some luminous crown of creativity, I do believe there are ways each of us can create little jolts of motivation to get us going. Here are a few of mine: 

1. Creating a playlist 

Sometimes I have an inkling of the kind of atmosphere I would like to create with my writing, but I'm still not sure what story I want to tell. When I listen to a playlist with songs that I feel evoke a similar atmosphere, I begin to imagine snatches of dialogue, snippets of plot, or half-formed characters to go with the music. It's like building a movie from the soundtrack up. 

Of course, this can—and often does—lead to a rather superficial Pinterest board of an idea, but it sets the groundwork to get started on the harder work of making sure the story has something to say.

2. Consuming other media  

I admit that I can do this to the point of procrastination (watching television is sometimes just watching television and not always "research," after all). But I do think that non-book media can be a good source of inspiration if I actually resolve to start writing at some point in the process. If there's a scene in a show or a play that I really like, I think about what makes me like it and then I consider if that thing is worth writing about in my own way. 

The reason I specify non-book media is that I tend to mimic the voices of authors I have been reading if I begin to write too soon after putting down their books. But with something like a movie scene, I can imagine how I would convey the visual and audio elements in writing. 

3. Going for a walk

By walk, I don't necessarily mean walk. But I do try to put myself somewhere in nature or in public, to see if I can observe anything that I might want to write about. It might be a certain setting or dynamic that I notice without especially looking for it. For me, the key is to go out without expectations and see what actually strikes me as something beautiful or honest or interesting. 

Then, I take that back with me to a quiet space, where I can agonize over what it all means and what I'm trying to say. Which, unfortunately, is the other 99% of the job. 

Swear by any of your own inspiration hacks? Tell us in the comments!

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Val O.

Book-lover for fun and profit. Ask me about Pennsylvania.

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