Building Your Writing Inspiration Toolkit: Part 2

Sometimes it feels as if the muse has abandoned you, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your project on hold. Instead, draw the inspiration to you by creating a toolkit to lean on during the dry spells. Both making and using the toolkit can bring you back to the heart of your writing journey; all that matters is feeling that joy and drive once more. Here are eight more tools to help you get back in the zone:

1. On-theme snacks. Come up with a treat to have while working on a difficult scene or during the brainstorming process that relates to your story in some way. Why not bake the scones your character would have at her grandmother’s cottage? Or perhaps you’d like to sit down with the same rose tea every time you work on your romance novel as a dreamy marker that it’s time to write.

2. Another creative activity. Much of writing is thinking, so find another activity you can enjoy while your mind plots out the next chapter or finds links between scenes. Paint, knit, dance, sew – whatever will allow you to stay in a creative space while you unravel the block. You can even partake in an activity related to your story or keep the theme consistent. For example, practice drawing the monster in your horror novel or colour in a pastoral landscape that looks like it leapt out of your novella.

3. Instructional or write-in videos and lectures. Watching or listening to a writer you admire discuss the craft can do wonders for your motivation. Peruse YouTube and you’ll likely find a circle of writers to interact with who write in the same genre. Many of these “AuthorTube” or “BookTube” participants even host write-ins where you can write at the same time as them on a live stream for moral support.

4. A mood board. Use your saved images, cut out photos in magazines, make some art, or look for postcards and notes from friends around the house to build a mood board to keep above your writing space. Is there a television show that inspired your story? Include a photo from your favorite episode. Use this canvas, whether it’s a blank poster or bulletin board, to capture the feeling you’d want your project to give others.

5. A designated talisman. If you have any sort of trinket that either means a lot to you or reminds you of your project, place it next to you whenever you write. This will signal to you that it’s time to immerse yourself in this other world. If it’s an item from a loved one or special memory, it will also act as a comfort during a low-energy writing session.

6. Visual reminders.
Your mood board will complete your writing space, but what about when you’re writing elsewhere?  Keep yourself in the story by utilizing other visual prompts. This can look like anything from a coffee mug or figurine to a keychain or sticker in your wallet. You can also set your phone and computer backgrounds to a photo of your favorite author or an illustration that reminds you of the project to encourage you to stay on track when your focus wanes.

7. Writing or brainstorming prompts. It shouldn’t be underestimated how much a writing prompt can shift your story or help you through a rut. There are thousands of free writing prompts online to consult when you need perspective. If you prefer a tangible resource, try Bryn Donovan's book of 5,000 prompts, or go digital with the app version of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards.

8. Another writer or artist. Discuss the creative process with others on a regular basis or set up a writing date to work together. Hearing how a friend handles lack of inspiration or what motivates them through a time-consuming project can instantly lift the mood and remind you you’re not alone. Writing is a solitary act but bringing community to it when you can makes a huge difference in keeping the inspiration alive.

Your toolkit can look like anything; it all depends on what motivates you to stay in the chair. Test out new approaches until you find the tools that feel like yours. And as you do, encourage others to find the same empowerment.

  • Posted by Julia McAlpine
  • May 21, 2020 11:58 AM PDT
Sometimes it feels as if the muse has abandoned you, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your project on hold. Instead, draw the inspiration to you by creating a toolkit to lean on during the dry spells.




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