“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” - Jack London
Sounds easier than it really is, right? How do you go after something with a club that you can’t control? Inspiration can come at odd times, often inconvenient ones like when we’re in the shower, driving the car, about to go to sleep, or basically any other time when we can’t actually write anything down! When it doesn’t come at odd times, it can naturally be unreliable or even nonexistent when we need it most. The same goes for motivation. For everyone, it may be something different. Personally, I find inspiration and motivation for my writing in music. But you may find it on walks, hikes, from reading, stargazing, or art! With so many options, it can be hard to pin down and so, again, we have nothing concrete to go after with our “clubs”. As a writer, we ideally need to be in a constant state of ‘inspired’, but that’s challenging because, as I said before, inspiration and motivation both can be highly irregular and unreliable. That’s why finding the thing that spurs your imagination and excitement for the story your telling consistently is so important.
So, to reach the ideal mindset of a writer, you should start by defining the thing which drives you. No, I’m not referring to the myth, fun fact, character, or other that inspired your story. That can only take you so far and it certainly won’t likely get you through those scenes in the murky middle that no one loves to write. Whatever it is that drives you back to the keyboard or notepad to continue writing; whatever stirs your imagination or has you daydreaming about your plot: that’s your source of inspiration, that’s what you’ll be chasing down with a club (yes, I’m sticking to this analogy, I quite like it). It seems a lot more difficult to find than it is, and many of you may already have something in mind. Once you figure out this consistent source of personal inspiration and motivation, I challenge you to consider it not simply as a source, but more importantly: a tool.
I’ll use myself as an example. Music is my greatest source of motivation and inspiration, so I keep playlists of songs that drive me to write different scenes. Knowing my source of personal inspiration gives me something tangible to chase down and a tool I can rely on to refill my creative well when it’s running low. I know that when I’m feeling uninspired or when writer’s block is looming that I can listen to those playlists, close my eyes, and hear the story. I know that when I wake up early and I’m not in the right mindset to write that I can turn on those playlists, direct my focus back to the story I want to tell, and get down to business writing. I promise, this can work for you too, even if you find your source is somewhere else. If you see your story in artwork, keep images on your desk that can spur your imagination when you need it, or even make them your screensaver! Need to be outdoors? Take a walk before you write, or better yet, take your laptop outdoors! Most importantly: Once you find what inspires you, you can use it all the time. Knowing that, being uninspired becomes severely less stressful and daunting, because, like a light switch, you’ll be able to turn it on and off when it’s convenient and necessary for you.
So, start by finding a source of inspiration that is consistent for you. Then, figure out how you can make that source a tool by coming up with a way for you to access it at your own convenience. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to make more constant progress on your writing goals and avoid long periods of feeling uninspired and unmotivated because of it. All it takes is a little introspection and a change in mindset.
“There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your own thinking.” - Brian Tracy