As a writer, I’ve been frustrated for the past two months, lacking inspiration to write anything. So I tried a few tactics to get me started that I want to share with you all.
1. Read, read and read some more
I can’t stress this enough. I wanted to become a writer before being a reader, but I quickly realized that I was exposing myself to failure. Reading assignments written by different authors can help you become familiar with various writing styles and help you experiment with your own. This is how you become a good writer. I have read many books by Albert Camus and Delphine De Vigan, whose styles have strongly influenced mine. The Stranger and The Plague by Albert Camus and No and Me and Nothing Opposes the Night are some of my favorite books.
Reading other people’s works can also provide you with a plethora of ideas, themes, and concepts to address in your next piece of writing. Even book titles can serve as motivation. It’s part of the magic of being present in a library, of being surrounded by great works of literature – the joy of yielding to the temptation to stare at every book cover, to read every title with a strong desire to know more . Not once have I left a library without at least 10 books on my list to read and at least 10 topics to write about.
2. Surround yourself with other writers
It can feel isolating to go through the highs and lows of writing on your own. Although you can share your experience with family and friends, no one understands you better than the people who are already living it. The easiest way to hear from other writers is to follow a bunch of them on your favorite social media platform. Personally, I love Instagram: I love seeing content from writers on the app and talking to writers on social media. It’s really easy to reach out and strike up a conversation when two people share the same passion.
If possible, I would recommend going further by joining local writing groups or attending literary events. These allow you to create unparalleled connections and access to strong support systems.
3. Be open to conversations
Sometimes while writing I avoided conversations with other people to avoid being distracted, but somehow I always ended up not making any progress. It’s because I was left uninspired and unmotivated. Once I stopped panicking about not having time to write and spent a little more time greeting people and saying yes to coffee outings, I opened the door to more meaningful conversations with my peers at Stanford. Each interaction taught me something new – a concept to think about and maybe write about, ranging from gene-editing techniques to service work in the Bay Area.
4. Relax and spend time elsewhere
This point is not a cliché answer, I promise, but rather an invitation to spend your time doing something other than writing. I believe that locking yourself in a room for hours on end, racking your brains in hopes of finding the words needed to fill the page in front of you, can be very detrimental to your health. I suggest taking time out from time to time to do something other than writing, because inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times.
It’s normal for a writer not to write 24/7. Being a writer is part of your identity, but it doesn’t define you. It cannot define you.
5. Play to your own strength
As you desperately try to jot down words on paper, try the techniques that work for you and not just the ones that are popular on online platforms. For example, if you have a knack for writing romance, spend time setting the stage for more romantic interactions between your characters. Techniques that encourage you to do more of what you do best can definitely be motivating, to say the least.
My goal is not to waste time following someone else’s advice that doesn’t work for you because people’s writing journeys are different. Although you may share the same passion for writing, you are still on a different path that you should embrace.
6. Put everything into perspective
Everything in life is shaped by our beliefs and experiences. Nothing is good or bad until we perceive it in a certain way. Although perception is not necessarily reality, it represents how we as writers interact with our reality. Along the same lines, writer’s block isn’t bad until we perceive it as such. So instead of freaking out about the pages you haven’t written, I suggest you change the way you think about the situation. Maybe you need time to refresh your creativity, or maybe your ideas aren’t structured enough. Putting things into perspective can be a helpful way to approach situations and work through some issues rather than tearing yourself apart.
7. Try new things for the first time
Life is made of experiences, writing too. All writers have personal experiences worth writing about. In a way, writer’s block can be an invitation to try things for the first time. And by “stuff” I mean everything from eating new foods in different places to walking at night despite the freezing cold to calling that high school friend you haven’t spoken to in months.
Breaking habits and forming new ones are some of the lived experiences worth writing down and articulating in your own words.
One final note – inspiration is everywhere. So take the time to see it, perceive it, use it and keep it alive in our hearts. It might not help you every time you need it, but it will always be there and you will find it eventually, no matter how long it takes and how many times you get distracted.
There is no rush to create art. There is only the love we have for the meaning behind the words we choose carefully. Once you’re inspired, be sure to pass the love on to other writers so we all stay inspired.