- Books, Literature, and Writing
9 Surprising Ways to Find Your Writing Muse Every Day
Become Your Own Writing Prompt Machine
If you've ever sat in front of your computer screen staring at the empty white canvas of a blank document, then you know all about the pain and frustration of writer's block. Sometimes, it can strike even when you have a killer idea just chomping to be set free from the confines of your brain, but sometimes you don't get that far.
Frequent bouts of writer's block -- or worse, a complete lack of story ideas -- can be catastrophic to a writer's success and self esteem, and you must discover ways to overcome the stalemate.
The next time self-doubt and a lack of imagination threaten to derail your writing plans, try one of these unusual methods for finding your muse. They'll turn you into an infinite source of your own writing prompts.
We could have called this one "take a walk" or "pick some flowers" because the point is more that you need to get out and about than that you need to focus on any one activity. The key to making this work is to observe what's happening around you and stop trying so hard to develop your next story idea from scratch.
The old man in the dairy aisle, the young mom in produce, and the businessman in cleaning products all have a story to tell if you'll allow it to grow in your mind. Your job is to open your eyes and recognize a viable seed when you see it.
Pull Out Those Old Family Photo Albums
We all have an unbearable aunt or relentless grandmother who insists on dragging out her camera every time anything happens. She collected stacks and stacks of photo albums, and those are just collecting dust in her bedroom closet or in some relative's garage. What a hassle!
You know what, though? Those pictures are artifacts of all the lives that have come before you and, in a way, who have made you who you are.
You think there are no interesting stories in those tomes? Then you may need to rethink your commitment to writing, because it doesn't even take much imagination to discover a good tale when it's laid out in picture form for all to see.
Revisit Your Past
Think about it -- when were you at your most creative?
If you're like most people, it was when you were a little kid, before responsibility and society boxed you into the pen that limits your thinking today.
On any given boring Saturday afternoon, you might have traveled to the moon on your bicycle rocket ship, weathered World War II in your blanket-built fortress, or solved the worlds greatest mysteries as a playground detective.
If your creative juices have stopped flowing, a trip down memory lane -- and back to the scene of the "crime" -- just may be enough to re-hydrate your imagination. Chances are, your old room or schoolyard have been saving up stories all these years, just waiting for you to come pick them up one of these weekends.
Visit a Nursing Home
If your own family's history is not inspirational enough to get your muse humming again, there is plenty of intrigue and glory just waiting for you to discover, and you won't have to go far to find it. As the Greatest Generation dwindles quickly and Baby Boomers begin to deteriorate, our nursing homes are bursting with accomplished people who have wonderful stories to tell and serve as a bridge to our collective past.
Why not volunteer to read to some of our seniors, or to help out with food services, or simply to sit and listen to these living storybooks talk about their lives? Not only will you help someone feel important again for awhile, but you'll learn plenty in the bargain, too.
Chances are, you'll also come out of the experience with at least one new story idea.
Play With Toys
You can take the idea of returning to your childhood mindset even further if you really want to tap into your youthful creativity. How would you go about doing that?
By playing with toys, at least on occasion.
If you're a parent, this should be obvious to you, as you likely already engage in make-believe sessions with your children. If you don't have kids, then you're in for a surprise in terms of the innovative boost that play things can bring you.
Don't be intimidated -- you don't HAVE to start shopping at toy stores, though that's not a terrible idea. Thanks to the internet, you can find every kind of bauble, from Star Wars to Silly Putty to video games, with just the click of a mouse.
Heck, even perusing the ads for these items is likely to shake loose an idea or tw.
Visit a Graveyard
At the risk of tripping into the macabre, graveyards can be very inspirational. If you pay close attention to the stories the gravestones tell, they can also be a great source of material.
Why is Cedric Jones buried with his parents, for instance, when his wife Sally is on the other side of the cemetery with their children? What is the meaning of that strange scythe symbol at the top of Molly McGuire's headstone? And just why is it that Abe Wilson, aged 56, has a monument that towers over everyone else's?
The answers are yours to craft.
Read a Book
If you find yourself stuck for ideas about what to write on a regular basis, chances are that you are not reading enough to keep your imagination stoked. For even the most creative minds, it's tough to come up with new concepts week after week totally on your own. Reading is your most consistent source of both new material and mental stimulation, and you can't be a really serious -- or productive -- writer without it.
Are you sleeping well each night, getting eight hours or so of sound, uninterrupted shuteye? Are you having vivid dreams that seem like they're the product of psychedelic mushrooms someone snuck into your food?
If not, then you need to look at your nighttime habits, because dreams can give you a wealth of story ideas that you might never come up with during your waking hours. When you drift into a deep slumber, your inhibitions slip away, and your wildest thoughts can come to the surface. Do everything you can to foster your own strange theater by eating well, avoiding stimulants and exercise near bedtime, and making sure you have enough time to get a full night's sleep.
Read the Bible
No matter what your religious affiliation or spiritual beliefs, you have to admit that few books can touch the Holy Bible when it comes to inspiration. From stories of hope and forgiveness to fantastical scenes of debauchery and destruction, the Bible can stoke even the most dormant of imaginations.
When you add in the various conspiracy theories and hidden messages surrounding the Good Book, you can't go wrong reaching for the Bible when you need a little kick in the pants.
Sometimes, ideas flow like chocolate on a Wonka conveyer, and sometimes they're harder to come by than an empty email box.
When you hit a dry spell and can't get a new story started to save your life, you can beat your head against the wall, pack it all in, or try something new, something different.
Don't stifle your muse by limiting your creative outlets. These ideas may not be right for you, but they should at least help you open your mind to unusual sources of inspiration.
Do you often have trouble coming up with new story ideas?
About the Author
Adam Hughes is a writer and IT professional from central Indiana. Visit his website at AdamHughesWriter.com for free short stories and other writing tips, and to see what effect miles of corn fields can have on a man's fiction.