I’ll be the first to admit, there have been times when I’ve sat down at my computer and said, “Now what?” I would follow that by pulling out my phone and surfing social media or doing anything to avoid the stress of having to find something to write about. Finding the inspiration to write is difficult, so here are four tips that I have used, and continue to utilize.
- What interests you?
What type of stories do you like? Do you enjoy journaling? Could you write about your life experiences in narrative form? Humans are designed to enjoy story telling. When someone is teaching or lecturing, I find I take so much more in when they back their advice with stories. I had someone in one situation who was teaching on perseverance and not giving up. They proceeded to tell a story about a navy seal team. I may not recall the words they said very easily, but I could quote the story almost word for word. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, create your own character who can experience adventures of their own. Perhaps, you enjoy mysteries. Can you come up with a twisting plot that will keep your readers guessing? Maybe you enjoy modern fiction books and you can create a family of characters who face modern day problems such as finances or conflict, and overcome. Or perhaps there is a college student who gets caught up in the search for a spouse, but goes about it in all the wrong ways. Find your interests.
If I were to write historical fiction, and my character had just purchased a brand new shiny red Cadillac in 1901, we would have a problem. Cadillac’s were not manufactured until 1903–and my story would lose some credibility. Even though my story was fiction and parts of it would never be one hundred percent historically accurate, I don’t want it to look like I’ve no idea what I’m writing about. I want to keep my story accurate enough to where it seems my character could’ve truly existed. I want those who read my story to be able to imagine themselves in history. I cannot have someone take a train before it was available for public transportation. I want my details to remain accurate! Depending on the story you are writing, you want it to be engaging–not laughable.
- Include your own interests and passions throughout your story
Many times, you can watch someone and tell if they are enthused about what they are currently discussing. Their voices will be filled with excitement and varying inflection, their hand motions will be animated, their facial expressions pronounced and engaged, they will maintain eye contact,they will lean forward if they are seated, and their face may even color as they talk. Now, someone who is uninterested or unconcerned may fidget restlessly, their eyes stray around the room, they may cross their arms or yawn a lot, their voices will be more monotone and their lack of interest evident in their knowledge of the topic. Now, which of these would you rather hear speak? The same will be evident in your writing. If your character is crocheting, and you’ve never crocheted in life, there will be a noticeable lack of description. There may be mixed vocabulary between crocheting and knitting, or the narrative slightly unrealistic. However, if you have crocheted and are passionate about doing so, that will be evident. Your character may lengthen her chain with ease. She may do a single crochet or a double crochet, or many even an extended triple crochet. Your passion for the craft will come across clearly and could inspire others to pick up crocheting. Now, I want you to compare the two examples below and realize the difference passion can make when writing.
- Lily galloped across the pasture as she headed back home.
- Lily leaned forward, her knees gripping the saddle as she urged her beautiful paint into a trot, then a canter, and finally settled into a gallop. She held the reins firmly, but loosely in her fingers and felt the muscles of the powerful horse beneath her bunching and releasing with each movement.
- Improve your writing slowly
No one sits down and writes a perfect masterpiece as their first story. I still remember my embarrassing first fully-written twelve page short story when I was nine. I was so proud of my work, and rightfully so! Looking back, it was atrocious. There was a lot of repetition and it was definitely child-like writing. However, that was a huge accomplishment for me. I sent it to my favorite author at the time and she published it on her blog. I was so excited! However, I can say my writing has improved a hundred fold since then and yours will too! If you write a piece from beginning to end, that is a great achievement! Celebrate it! The next piece will get better, and the next better, and so on. Don’t be discouraged if your first piece isn’t everything you dreamed because it’s your creation. No matter the mistakes, it’s something to take pride in. Perhaps on your next piece you’ll focus on improving sentence structure or grammar, and the next piece you’ll work on lessening repetition. Then you may work on attention to detail. These are all things I will discuss here in time as well.
I hope you can utilize these tips and accomplish something you’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time! It doesn’t matter if your creation is two pages, or two hundred pages; everyone starts somewhere, and you may find you fall in love with writing. Writing may become your passion, and by displaying other passions through writing, you could positively affect the lives of all of your readers. Go get writing!