It’s easy to feel inspired and ready to write with a brand new shiny idea. But what about when you’re halfway through a draft and all of the excitement has faded and been replaced with frustration and fatigue?
Here are a few tried and true strategies that I use (practically daily) to fall back in love with the project I am working on.
Create an Aesthetic
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing that can inspire you quite like browsing Pinterest. Okay, it’s also a great way to procrastinate. But occasionally you will find a picture or a quote that just clicks with your story. In fact, I’ve written an entire blog post dedicated to just this – check it out to see how Pinterest can help with inspiration.
For me personally, I got stuck about halfway through my most recent WIP. And creating an aesthetic for #StoryLoversAesthetic’s weekly challenge helped kickstart my excitement again. Take a look below – it’s not only pretty but gives insight into my characters, setting, theme and one of my favorite scenes in the book.
Exchange a Positivity Pass
Getting feedback on your project is one of my favorite parts of the process, but when you’re feeling frustrated and uninspired, constructive criticism – while helpful – may not be well-timed. Instead consider a Positivity Pass!
The wonderful Katie Golding champions this hashtag which is completely dedicated to writers swapping chapters and gushing about all the things you’ve done wonderfully. It’s only positive feedback, and it’s the perfect confidence boost to get you back on track.
Bounce Ideas Around with your CPs
Your critique partner is your biggest resource when it comes to drafting your novel. I know it sounds strange – shouldn’t it be your research or your character sketches? But nope. I don’t think I could’ve continued pursuing this dream as long as I have without them. One of the main reasons is that they are always there to help me persevere with my story.
If I am stuck on a scene and just want to walk away from the computer, I can message them and we bounce ideas around until something clicks and inspiration flows. We often have Skype chats to plan out the next few scenes or brainstorm together. Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary activity, and having a cheerleader in your corner who’s equally invested in your story is a huge motivating factor.
Shower, Take a Walk, Clean or Go for a Drive
It happens to me all the time. I am sitting at my desk, stuck and uninspired, and I decide to take a break. I jump in the shower, I go to walk the dog, or I drive to meet a friend… then BAM! A million story ideas immediately come to mind. Giving yourself a break to do a different (usually mundane) activity can often release the creative juices – you don’t have the pressure of sitting at your computer with a blank Word document staring you down.
Focus on the Little Things
This ties into the advice above because usually when I am showering or driving a flash of dialogue is what comes to me first. I scramble to write it down when I can, but I also just let it flow. I don’t worry about the body language or the setting or what’s happening around them. Just the words that the characters say to each other. Writing a scene can be overwhelming – but by focusing on one aspect at a time, it becomes less so. If I am feeling particularly inspired to just write dialogue, I will just write dialogue. Sure, it turns out looking more like a script, but I can easily go back and fill in the rest of the details later.
Personalize Your Environment
There’s nothing less inspiring than a drab and boring environment. Sure, sometimes it’s the only option, but I believe that customizing your work space with things that stoke your creativity is a great way to create a constant source of inspiration. For example, let’s look at my desk:
So obviously I have all the utilitarian items like a printer, calendar, hole punches and file storage. But I also incorporated several things that fuel my inspiration fire.
- Decoration specific to me – pictures, tchotchkes from vacations, notebooks, etc
- Motivating quotes as seen on my bulletin board
- Atmospheric candles
- Items from some of my favorite novels – my wands (duh) and a pillow with one of my favorite quotes
- Elements from own writing projects – a voodoo doll and tarot cards for my YA fantasy
- Favorite writing books for easy access
- A sign or symbol of your future success – my uncle bought me an autograph pen set for one day when I am signing my own books
Just looking at my desk gets me fired up to sit down and write.
Listen to Music
I don’t know about you, but I typically create a playlist for each writing project. Music can inspire the overarching feel of your story or even specific scenes. Instead of recapping it all here, I’ll just redirect you to the blog post where I dive deep into how music can be the best writing tool.
Take a Reading Break
I realize that this feels like really bad advice for a writer because reading more makes you even better. But have you even been reading when you’re feeling a little down or uninspired about your own story and think, “My book will never be this good”? If so, you’re not alone.
Sure, it’s easy to tell yourself “Well, this book is already published and gone through multiple professional edits.” But your heart – and self-confidence – may not always hear that. So take a break from reading and fill your creative well a different way: finish a puzzle, binge-watch a show or do one of the activities listed above.
Be Gentle with Yourself
Ultimately, this is the most important piece of advice. Inspiration will wax and wane, and that’s no reason to beat yourself up. It can be your mind and body telling you to just take a break, refill the well and return to the project when inspiration strikes again. It may seem counterintuitive, but that’s active recovery and another method of strategic re-inspiration. There’s nothing wrong with that, and – even though guilt over not writing is a writer’s constant companion – it may even help you come back stronger. If after a break, your inspiration still hadn’t returned, go back to your project and just keep writing. The words may not be your best – and that’s okay – but as Picasso says:
What are some methods you use to get re-inspired? I’d love to hear!