Four ways to cultivate writerly inspiration
A young woman introduced herself to me at a poetry reading recently. “I write poetry, too,” she said. “But only when the inspiration strikes me.”
Ah, youth. I remember saying the same thing when I was younger.
You see, I’d bought into the myth that writers are a temperamental lot who only write when their muse “inspires” them. Fortunately, I’ve grown as an artist and realize now that the best writers are the ones that cultivate their inspiration daily. They discipline themselves to write each day even when they’re tired or don’t feel like writing. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, inspiration becomes a habit.
How can you cultivate inspiration?
Below are a few ideas I’ve tried with success:
1. Give yourself a writing exercise. There are many good sources offering writing prompts and exercises. For novel writing, try “The 90-Day Novel: Unlock the Story Within” by Alan Watt. For poetry ideas, try “Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words” by Susan Wooldridge. Writing prompts and exercises are a great way to generate more ideas.
2. Use a writing buddy. Whether it’s in person or via instant message, get together with a friend for timed writes or “timers” as my writing partner and I call them. This is a great way to develop your daily writing habit and not feel so alone in your writing journey.
3. Do you need a fresh, new perspective? Hang out with a child. Recently, I took by 7-year-old cousin to Port Townsend for the day. As we walked down the main street, she giggled and pointed out interesting objects that I’d just walked by without noticing. She made me realize all the things I wasn’t really seeing. Since then, I notice I’ve been more aware of my surroundings.
4. Make note of your surroundings. Wherever you are–coffee shop, restaurant, post office, grocery store–deliberately look for the unusual in your settings. You’ll be surprised at how useful this information can be when you’re creating settings or characters later. Or how a poem can arise from what you notice.
Most importantly, have fun and think about different ways you can nurture your muse so inspiration becomes a habit.