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4 unusual methods for finding inspiration

16 September 2016

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Any writer will know just how tricky it can be to find inspiration. After all, few of us are blessed with panoramic views of rolling hills and endless vistas capable of sparking new novel ideas whenever we open our curtains in the morning.

Staring at a blank page can be an unnerving experience and often tricks us into thinking that it’ll be impossible to find a great idea ever again. A barren landscape with scatterings of ill-conceived character profiles, nonsensical plot twists and narrative ideas that won’t lead to a single page being turned is all that seems to lie ahead.

Scary? Definitely.

End of the road for the old writing career? Absolutely not.

So, how do you find inspiration? If you’ve tried the usual stuff (reading your favourite authors’ work, scouring Google and speaking to friends), and still nothing comes to mind, there are some rather more unorthodox methods you can try:

1. Exercise

One of our self-published authors, Ann Richardson, recently wrote about the importance of exercise and the numerous benefits it offers to both our health and the ability to make the most of the time we have on this planet.

Exercise can also be a fantastic catalyst for inspiration. Healthy minds are creative minds and a daily dose of extraneous activity may be all you need to wake up those brilliant novel ideas you have buried deep within the recesses of your brain. A short jog or swift walk each morning goes a long way (literally and metaphorically).

2. Reddit

Known as ‘the front page of the Internet’, Reddit is best thought of as a discussion website. It often requires a strong stomach, but if you filter out the more unsavoury commentary and search for topics that interest you, there may well be some novel inspiration hiding within its many pages.

Reddit is full of real people discussing current affairs, hobbies and beliefs. You don’t need to get involved in the discussion, either - a browse through comment threads may uncover a narrative you could make use of. Equally, the personalities on display could provide some much-needed inspiration for characters.

3. Try a different routine

We’re creatures of habit and for as much as we might try to convince ourselves otherwise, most of us exhibit habitual behaviour. We get up at the same time, take the same route for the dog walk, eat when we’ve always eaten and see the same people on the same day.

Mix it up. At least one day a week, completely change your routine. Get up earlier, take an entirely different route for the dog walk and move the time and location (and people) for your regular meet ups. Inspiration often comes from placing oneself in unfamiliar environments and at times of the day that are usually reserved for other activities.

4. Kids

If you’re a children’s author, this one’s a given, but if you write adult fiction, there’s a strong chance you’ve never thought of seeking inspiration from children. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Kids have wildly creative minds. They’re not burdened with the stresses, strains and worries of adult life and therefore have brains that freely wander and make fantastical assumptions about the world. Speak to your kids (or those of friends and family) and make mental notes of the stuff they say. It can often be charming and beautifully wacky, but there may just be something in there for you to draw upon.

Happy inspiration hunting! If you think we’ve missed a strategy, please do get in touch and tell us the most unusual way you’ve been inspired.

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