With NaNoWriMo over, fall semester coming to a close, and the end of the year approaching, inspiration is even more of a fickle creature than usual. At this point, most writers are feeling burnt out, like staring at a computer screen too long after a long day. It happens. There is nothing to be ashamed of. But the next time you are itching for inspiration, try out one of these eleven tactics:
1. Take a Walk
Everyone has heard how exercise releases endorphins; it gets the gears going again. The wires in your brain buzzing. If you decide to take a walk, bring a notebook with you to jot down in when something - or someone - catches your eye. After all, the only thing worse than having no inspiration is losing or forgetting that inspiration.
2. Revisit an Old Idea
Often times, I have had to push ideas to the back burner because of one thing or another. This is the time to dust those ideas off, crack your knuckles, and get to work! Better yet, you may have a wider, more considerate perspective than the initial inspiration for the idea!
3. Try Out Prompts
Prompts, like writing exercises in creative writing courses, can often spark an idea. With the internet at our fingertips, writers have access to several websites containing prompts. However, if you do not know where to start, these are my top two, Tumblr favorites: WriteWorld and Nimble's Notebook.
4. Listen to Music
My first novel-length idea came from song lyrics. Additionally, an author friend of mine creates book-specific playlists that she listens to each time she writes that piece to put her in the right head-space. So listen close. What you hear might surprise you.
5. Stream of Consciousness
This is a popular brainstorming technique in which you write down all of your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, what you write can stand out to you, grow bigger and bigger like rolling a snowball in winter.
6. Word Generators
Akin to the stream of consciousness technique, the results may stand out to you and snowball into a pleasant idea. My personal favorite is Text Fixer. The combination of words I received the first time I tried this generator manifested in an entire poem. Give it a try!
7. M. Kirin's "How To Plan Your Novel" Video Series
Split into three parts and two videos, writer and blogger M. Kirin outlines the process they have curated after writing more than eight books. In particular, I find Part 1: Brainstorming helpful due to the way you're expected to question and list every aspect of an idea you come up with on-the-spot based on their system. If you would like to check it out, here is the link to that two-part series: How To Plan Your Novel.
8. Start with a Character
Although characters are fabricated people, they are people - actual persons - to those that created them. See where they lead you.
Drawings. Paintings. Murals. Sculptures. In a broader scope, art can also be seen as film, literature, folklore, music, plays, and more. Take a closer look at the medium before you. Consider how it makes you feel. Consider how it makes the person next to you feel. The possibilities are endless.
10. People Watch / Listen to Conversations
There is a stunning amount of diversity in humanity. Walking through campus each day, the snippets of conversations I hear (quite unwillingly) are part of the most ridiculous stories and scenarios. Putting those words to a face adds another layer to that ridiculousness, sometimes. So, to pay homage to the saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction." Stranger, indeed.
11. Take a Step Away
Breathe. Relax. Give yourself a break to rejuvenate. Sometimes pushing harder means pushing the ideas further away. And like the right person, inspiration can pop up when you least expect it.
Please, comment below if you feel burnt out and try any of these techniques! We would love to know how it went. And, of course, if there is any topic you would like to see discussed, please let me know!