What’s the hardest thing about being a writer, especially when you’re a teenager?
In the midst of homework, college preparation, and the drama of high school, making time to collect topics to write about is a challenge. So, when you lack inspiration, it can be a discouragement.
You might feel like a failed writer.
But think of it this way: you’re not always going to like writing. You’re not always going to have ideas for your stories. Some days, you’re going to want to throw it all in the trash and call it a day.
Don’t entertain those thoughts.
There’s a logical solution to everything, and believe it or not, writing is more of a science than one might think.
Let’s try to examine the problem. What, truly, is a lack of inspiration? Is it an absence of ideas, or an absence of energy? Personally, I believe that feeling uninspired is a combination of both. It’s a combination that’s most often called, “writer’s block”.
So, that being said, what can we do?
Based on those two problems, in order to remain “inspired”, we need to:
- Curate a list of ideas
- Increase energy
So, today, let’s tackle the first solution: curating a list of ideas.
KEEP A JOURNAL
Looking through my journal right before a writing session gets me excited to create something. So, I’m offering this advice to you in the hopes that it will do the same.
There are many ways to keep a journal. You could use a traditional notebook, an electronic device, or a bunch of napkins. The only thing that matters when journaling is how you keep it, not what you keep it with.
In order to journal effectively, I suggest carting it around with you throughout the day. Wherever you keep your wallet, phone, or car keys, keep that journal. And a writing implement, of course. I suggest a pencil. (Or get a pocket fountain pen. Then send it to me.)
When you journal, try to write down things that happened to you that day, interesting people that caught your attention, or even what you dreamed about the night before. But, don’t restrain yourself to these standard topics. Write down anything that enters your mind during your journaling session. Sketch. Draw. Do anything that gets those creative juices flowing through that gorgeous brain of yours.
WRITE EVERY DAY
You want to reach across the screen and strangle me, don’t you?
I know, I know, writing every day is a hard thing to do, especially when you’re suffering from “writer’s block”. Trust me on this, though. Nothing helps an uninspired writer than a free-write, or mandatory writing session. I make sure to start writing after I wake up, so I’m too exhausted to notice if I’m even using proper English or not. (Most often, I’m not.)
Write anything, even if all you can come up with is a bunch of rubbish. No one is going to read it but you. Don’t critique yourself. You can look back at what you’ve written, laugh at yourself, or maybe find a nugget of writing gold.
…and your mother will thank you.
In all seriousness, this tip transcends your mother’s frequent please and basic hygiene advice. Keeping organized allows for quick and easy access to the stuff you need without sifting through your desktop — or those dust bunnies and disintegrating chocolate candies that live underneath your bed. (Don’t lie to me, I know they’re there.)
When the files on your desktop start piling up, delete the ones you don’t need, or create folders to put them in. The same method also applies to paper files, although in slightly different terms.
Organize your writing projects so that you can find them as soon as you fire up your computer. That way, those ideas don’t have to simmer in your mind for too long before you can write them down. If you’re easily distracted (*raises hand*), this is a must. I don’t need to tell you why, do I?
FIND A BRAINSTORMING BUDDY
If you don’t have a brainstorming buddy, get one. They are a great blessing to a writer’s life. Eventually, you will end up spending so much time chatting together that you and your buddy will become great friends. They’re truly a great gift to have on your writing journey.
As their title suggests, brainstorming buddies can help you through a rough spot in your manuscript. They help you sift through your own ideas, or suggest one if you’re stuck. If they’re awesome (and most of them are), they will listen to your pleas and frustrations, and respond with inspired advice. They will tell you if your story patches make sense, or if they’re completely dumb.
Fortunately, I was able to find my brainstorming buddy in real life. Unfortunately, though, that means that I’ve never tried any online writing forums. So, I can’t really recommend any. (If you found a brainstorming buddy through an online forum, tell me in the comments — I’d love to hear from you.)
READ, READ, READ
Don’t try to strangle me yet, I promise it’s not going to be that bad. You’re a writer. You’re supposed to be reading stuff anyway, so think of this as another reason why you should be doing it. Reading is your main source of inspiration. Reading will nurture your creativity, as it’s almost forcing you to use your imagination.
So, read great books. Read great blogs. Read the ingredient list on the back of your cereal box. Read everything that you can get your hands on. It will motivate you, inspire you, give you courage to be just like that writer you admire.
On the other hand, reading may have the opposite effect from what I’ve described above. I’ve heard of writers getting discouraged due to the sheer awesomeness of the books out there. Well, they aren’t far wrong. Some books really are awesome. Where those writers are wrong, however, is that they feel their stories couldn’t possible compare with the tales they enjoy so much.
(You know what I’m about to say next, right?)
You know those authors whose work you enjoy so much? They worked hard to get where they’re at. You know, kind of like what you’re doing. So, don’t wallow in self-pity. Decide where you want to be, and work to get there.
And read. Read a lot.
So, there you have it, a few little tidbits that can help you keep the inspiration going.
Tell me: what are your favorite ways to keep a list of ideas? Do you ever find yourself getting “uninspired”?
Read other posts in the Road to Inspiration series:
The Road to Inspiration (Part II): how to manage your writing time