“Hello Lizard, I really like to write, but I never know what to write… any tips for finding inspiration?”
If you sit around waiting for the muse to come, you may end up waiting awhile. So if you haven’t just been struck by fantastic inspiration, it might mean actively searching for a new idea. This is always the hardest, I think, when you’ve just finished a big long-term project, like a novel or a collection of stories. In cases like that, you’ve been so invested in one project for so long that it can be hard to separate yourself from that mindset and begin writing something else.
Inspiration, in my experience, has always come easiest while writing. I think one part of writing is learning to sit down and do write without having had a great epiphany or moment of enlightenment. Sure, as I’m writing, I get ideas for things. When I get an idea that I think is awesome and I want to use at some point, I write it down. I keep a notebook on me most of the time, and I am constantly writing in it. I actually like to check before I buy a notebook to make sure it will fit in my purse so it can always be with me.
While this strategy works well, it’s only one part of it. I’ve also learned (with time) to be choosier with my own ideas. If I’m going to saddle myself to a long-term project, it needs to be an idea that matters enough to me that I won’t want to drop it and move on. It needs to have some kind of importance to you as a writer. There are some stories that I’m never not excited about. They might not be “important” or “relevant” but I’m always so excited to work on stories like these. Just to give an example, ghost stories. I eat them up. I’m obsessed. I know this about myself and because of it, it’s always the first kind of story I toss around and think about while looking for my next idea.
Before I ramble on too much more, let’s make this a more concise list:
Take note of it.
Keep a notebook. Write down ideas as they come to you. Some writers will journal about their day, free write, or reflect on their writing process to help generate ideas. There are a lot of different ways that having a notebook can help generate ideas for writing.
Take a bath.
This one is an idea I love, but it does take discipline. Run a bubblebath (or do something along those lines) with the sole intent of taking a good few hour to really think about what want to work on and generate some ideas. Know by the time you get out how you’re going to begin your next project. I did say it takes discipline. Definitely not for everyone.
Build a writing room.
Now this is something that takes friends who write. Assemble them. Or find at least one and talk out your ideas. Ask someone to be your sounding board. Sometimes it’s really hard to come up with something when you’re on your own. Having friends to talk it out with you – having friends ask questions about it – can help you make big decisions about your next story. You can always make changes after, but a lot of the time, you might find you already know way more about your story than you’d previously thought.
Take a risk.
Sometimes you have ideas and you worry about writing them out because they might be strange or too big or too out there. When you’re between projects, you’re in a place when you can be daring. You might write a few pages of something wild and then realized in the process how to make it work.