How to Grow as a Writer Part 2: Inspiration

This is going to sound a bit weird, but I don’t like the idea of inspiration.

Now hear me out. Inspiration is a fleeting feeling that grips writers and other creatives and drives them into action. But what happens when you’re not inspired? Words still need to be written, work still needs to be done. The idea of inspiration is a romantic one that gets all creative people started in what they’re working on, no matter if its writing or art or something else entirely. My approach to managing inspiration is getting a routine setup before I write. This routine is usually a five-step process.

1) Mild exercise-
Usually, a brisk walk or light calisthenics if the weather isn’t cooperating. This helps get my mind and body ready for writing and keeps me focused on the task at hand.

2) Set myself up-
The worst thing that can happen to me in a writing session is that I’m pulled away from the computer or notepad. So I make sure I’ve got everything that I need, water/tea, light snack food, go to the bathroom, etc. This makes sure that I can be present in what I’m doing and not distracted. I also routinely set my phone to do not disturb, get out of any social media I have in the background on my computer and even turn off email notifications. For me to get the most out of my inspiration, I need to make sure I won’t get taken away by distractions.

3) Music or not to music
This is a tricky one for me. I love writing when I listen to music, but there are times where it just doesn’t work and I either need the complete silence of my office or the mild background noise of my surroundings. So its something I take on one writing session at a time.

4) Get a totem
This is a bit of a psychological trick that I was taught in grade school (thank you, Gerald & Mary, for teaching me this trick!) and I was surprised that a lot of writers use it. Get yourself a totem, something that you can put on your desk or something that you wear every time you write. This helps to define the time that you’re writing and helps determine when you’re at your desk to get writing done or if you’re there for another reason.

5) Consistency is the key
This one is difficult for me because I’m more of a sprint writer vs an everyday writer. But by doing the same things every time before my writing sessions, I can be inspired to do my work and keep myself on task enough to get it done.

But there has to be more to inspiration?

Why yes of course. The above is just how I show up inspired to write, even if life is making things harder by throwing up distractions and worry spots left and right.

What some things that inspire me personally?

I look for scenes of clarity in my life and of those around me. I collect them in a scene journal that I read through when I feel like I’m stuck or that I’m not progressing. I go into as much detail as I can, trying to make a moving picture out of words. These scenes aren’t relegated to a topic or scenario, simply random happenings that leave a strong imprint on me either in the moment or after. Here’s a brief list of what I collect:

  • Early morning after the New Years’ Eve 2018 going to 2019.
  • A friend’s birthday party that took us out into Shawnee National Park.
  • A camping trip that was put together as quickly as the storm that raced us to our campsite.
  • A snow-covered and silent Busch stadium in the middle of winter.
  • Looking across the Mississippi River at dawn, from the 6th floor of the 4 Seasons.

All of these are scenes that I collected and went into detail within my scene journal. There are more of course, but these are some of my favorites since they caught me at a time of ease and enjoyment. Inspiration hits all of us differently and I think that’s one of the great challenges for writers and all creatives to handle.

What inspires you guys? How do you manage it? Or is it something you try to hold onto for as long as you can and hope it comes back when it’s gone. Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to visit my author page on Facebook.

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