I have to admit, throughout much of 2020, it was a challenge to “feel” creative and inspired to write.
Of course, there’s a balance to be found between …
- waiting on the muse to descend, and
- starting to write whether you feel inspired or not
But (for me, at least) that muse hid pretty well.
And judging by the decline in editing projects on Upwork for much of the year, I think a lot of writers struggled to find inspiration for writing.
And I can only assume that other creatives – artists, musicians – faced a similar issue.
But the thing is, the world needs those things that creativity brings: the music and the stories and the poems and the paintings borne of inspiration.
Today more than ever, we need the beauty of these creative activities.
So, don’t give up even if you are lacking inspiration for writing or embarking on other creative endeavors..
Whether your ideas are flowing like a river …
… or whether you’re looking for inspiration during a dry spell …
I hope these few suggestions will help you tap into your artistic muse!
1. Read Broadly
Reading is so important!
And if you’ve never considered yourself a reader (or you struggled with reading during school), reading doesn’t have to be that same challenging activity you remember from your youth.
- You can listen to audiobooks with an Audible account.
- You can also listen to audiobooks for free with an account connected to a library card (try the Libby App by OverDrive).
- Or you can even use the software available that allows you to read one word at a time (with speeds between 100 and 900 per minute, depending on your reading speed).
In any case, and however you approach reading, try to find inspiration by reading broadly in the upcoming year.
You might consider yourself a writer or an artist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read books on a variety of unrelated topics.
For instance, this year I used Libby to listen to several books by Malcolm Gladwell after a friend introduced his work to me via Masterclass.
(I absolutely love his writing, and how he has almost created a new genre with his engaging and thoughtful approach to writing.)
But I also listened to an embarrassing number of books about cats – the fictional Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter.
No, I didn’t really find a lot of inspiration for writing in these books (although I did learn just how much drama you can find in fictional feline clans), but my son and I had a lot of together time reading the first series.
It was my light entertainment, during a year when we all needed something light and distracting … at least for a while.
For book suggestions, a few other authors I enjoyed in 2020 were:
Nonfiction Book Suggestions
- Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
- Bob Goff’s Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
- Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect
- Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath
- Bryan Bishop’s Boundless: What Global Expressions of Faith Teach Us about Following Jesus
Fiction Book Suggestions
- Marilynne Robinson’s Lila
- Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call from Heaven
- Morgan L. Busse’s Ravenwood Saga: Mark of the Raven #1, Flight of the Raven #2, Cry of the Raven #3
A few of these books couldn’t be further from each other in content and genre, but I don’t regret reading any of them.
More importantly, each one inspired me in some way … gave me an idea or clarified a perspective, or even brought in a new perspective …
… which I believe is vital in life.
2. Study Deeply
In addition to reading widely, when you’re looking for inspiration, it helps to study some things more deeply.
Over the past half a dozen years, my “study deeply” focus has been writing, first getting a BA in English and then an MFA in Creative Writing.
In addition to the required textbooks and writing assignments, I delved into the writing world through …
- Reading every book on writing I could squeeze into my schedule
- Editing dozens of manuscripts, offering an editing service to my clients while gaining experience in wordsmithery
- Writing (of course) on my various blogs
- Participating in NaNoWriMo (although my Creative Writing degree is in nonfiction, I focus just as much on fiction, in both my writing and editing life)
And when a friend gifted me with a year-long subscription to Masterclass, guess which classes I focused on?
Yep, the ones on writing.
So, whether your focused skill is music or painting or word-weaving, don’t just rest on what you have learned in the past.
Find inspiration by continuing to hone the creative skills you have!
3. Learn Something New
Now, this might seem to counter the previous point, but it also helps to learn something new!
Learn something unrelated to your primary creative focus.
If you are seeking a degree in a particular creative field or just can’t manage to fit in anything else, I understand. (That was me over the past five years or so.)
But this year, I decided that I would learn a new creative skill.
And so I began to learn how to play the piano.
Music is a creative avenue I have always wanted to try out, but never had the time to fit it in.
Each of my kids has spent several years taking piano lessons, however, and we got a piano years ago to help them in their creative pursuit.
So I thought, why not just jump in? The bonus for me is …
- The various beginner’s piano books sitting around from my kids’ years learning to play
- And my kids are available to answer my questions if I can’t figure something out in the book
- Also, there’s YouTube with tons of creative suggestions in the realm of music and piano
And it’s strange, but somehow sitting at the piano bench playing helps me return to my writing with more inspiration.
What is some creative realm you can enter that you’ve never tried out before?
4. Ignore Creativity (Or At Least Pretend To)
Okay, another thing that sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out.
Inspiration (for writing and other creative arts) is a weird thing.
We got a cat last year, and I think inspiration is kind of like a cat.
You know, how you call the cat over and he completely ignores you, but then you sit down at your laptop and suddenly he’s right there, purring and stepping all over the keyboard to get your attention?
Yeah, that’s how those creative muses act sometimes.
The inspiration doesn’t appear at your command.
You sit down, commanding yourself to write and …
So then, you go for a swim or a bike ride or you cook dinner or stand on your head, and then suddenly, the ideas start to flow.
(No, I have not yet tried standing on my head … but I have done all the other things, and they do work.)
So, if you feel you’ve lost your creative edge and you can’t find inspiration anywhere, ignore it for a little while …
Or at least pretend to.
The inspiration will eventually come around, purring and climbing on your keyboard, knocking over your cup of tea, and expecting your full attention.
I hope these suggestions on how to find inspiration for writing are helpful!
Feel free to comment if you have some tips on creativity and inspiration.
The world today needs more beauty in the form of carefully crafted words, music, visual art, and more.
So, don’t neglect to do whatever it takes to keep creating and bringing those beautiful things into the world!
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