Episode 47: Finding Inspiration When it is Lost
In this episode, we continue looking at what issues writer’s face and how to solve them. Today we tackle the loss of inspiration. We figure out where it goes, and use various methods to bring it back.
You can listen to the episode right here. The transcription is below the player. Feel free to add your comments using the comment section below.
Episode 47 Transcript
Note: Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and humans, as such, it may contain errors. Please, double-check the audio file before quoting anything from this page.
00:00 [JT Pledger] Inspiration. It is what drives us, as creatives, to write, draw, sing, dance… whatever it is that we do to express ourselves. What happens, though, when we don’t have any inspiration? How do we get it back? In today’s episode I want to cover inspiration and figure out where it goes, and how to chase it down. Stick around, we have a lot to figure out.
01:04 [JT] Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. It is one of those little things that we, as writers, take for granted sometimes. Losing your inspiration is like losing your car keys when you don’t have any plans to go anywhere. You don’t really know it’s lost. Sometimes this happens because you have already started a project and you sit down to write and you trudge through.
01:31 You know what needs to be done, so there isn’t a real need for inspiration to strike. It can feel like a loss of motivation, which I covered last week. However, there are some differences. For example, the loss of motivation makes you feel like doing nothing, where as the loss of inspiration makes you feel like you aren’t doing enough, or you aren’t doing the right thing.
When Loss of Inspiration is Noticeable
02:05 Where you really notice the lack of inspiration, when it has left you, is when you attempt to start a new project. It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, sometimes nothing flows. You can sit down to write, double check your notes and your fingers just hover over the keyboard. You stare at the blinking cursor or the blank page and you grow frustrated.
02:35 To make matters worse, the lack of inspiration can lead to other problems, such as motivation, depression, that feeling of self-doubt. It is a serious problem that for the most part goes unaddressed. That’s why I decided to bring it up today.
02:56 What can we do about this inspirational shutout? The simple answer is to “go find it again.” Though that can be more difficult than it sounds, especially if you also suffer from the other issues that can come up from the condition. So, I want to cover a few of the various methods that I use to find my inspiration when she decides to play a game of hide and seek from me.
There are Steps to Take
03:29 The first thing I do is step away. This is always my first step for situations like this. I have never found inspiration, motivation, drive or ambition beating my head against the keyboard. So, I remove that from my view and take on another task. I also find it easier to do something mundane and something that requires little brain power. I am attempting to reset my mind, so I will do the dishes and laundry, I’ll go for a walk with my headphones in.
04:07 A lot of times, this can be enough. I have noticed that when I give my brain the break from the computer, it always wants to find its way back. So while I am scrubbing that roast grease off of the baking pan, my mind is trying to write that first chapter, or further develop that character. If I have come up with something, I will dry my hands and go back to the computer to see what I can do. Sometimes, that is enough. I can jot down those few things I thought about and off I go.
Still have a Loss of Inspiration? Try Another Option
04:40 More often than not, though, that fickle mistress of inspiration is still hiding. So, I move to my next step: free writing. I have mentioned this before, I believe, either here on the podcast or perhaps in the Extra Draft blog. Free writing is something I do to clear the cobwebs. It works well for me when I am in the middle of a project and get stuck, or develop writer’s block. It works for the inspiration sometimes, too.
05:13 For free writing, I use pen and paper instead of the computer. I get comfy on the couch or in a big chair, or I’ll even go to the coffee shop or local bookstore. I take my pad and paper and I just start writing whatever comes to mind. Try not to think about writing, or if it even makes sense. You just put words down. Whatever is in your head, it ends up on paper. When you free write, it goes fast. You find yourself scribbling on the paper at break-neck speeds. It’s actually pretty fun.
Turn to Peers and Heroes
05:57 If that doesn’t jar the old hag from the rafters to give you the inspiration you need to work on your projects, there are other steps to try. Turn to your creative friends, admirer’s or heroes. Most writer’s that I know, myself included, have one or two author’s that they adore. Or there are a couple of stories that really resonate with us. Every time I read them I get inspired to write myself.
06:25 I am unsure if it is just the fact that I love the story so much, or that I get the urge to emulate the greats, or exactly what. But after reading one of my favorite stories, I almost always feel like getting behind the keyboard and typing away. Some find this in their favorite music, or in a good movie. Whatever it is, there is just something about taking in the finished works of another creative that pushes us to get to work on our own projects.
07:00 Ninety-nine times out of 100, the aforementioned methods work for me. I am sure that they will also work for you. If they do not, there is a small list of other things you can try. First, take a longer break. Take a few days away from the computer or writing. Maybe your brain needs a longer break to do a full reset. Or, you can take one of those oddly inspirational 2 am showers. You always seem to get great ideas with a steaming hot 2 am shower.
Don’t Just Take My Advice on Loss of Inspiration Fixes
07:38 Other writer’s I know have other methods. Some do interviews with other creatives. They will call author friends on the phone and just talk it out. If you don’t have any creative friends or family to call, talk to your self. Talking out loud is a great way to get the juices flowing. I have found myself walking around the house or out in the garden just jabbering away at myself. I don’t look for answers. It is more of a verbal free writing, where I just talk about what’s on my mind instead of writing it down.
08:16 Perhaps you have your own strange method of finding that inspirational cherub. If so, I urge you to go to the website at podcast dot Extra Draft dot com and look for episode 47. Scroll down to the comments section and let us know what works best for you.
A Few Weeks of Specific Help
08:44 Between depression and anxiety, a lack of motivation and the loss of inspiration, I have covered some of the biggest writing setbacks there are these last few weeks. With any luck, you will never need these episodes. If you do in the future, or are currently needing them now, I hope they help in some small way.
09:15 Also, if you have something else that is bothering you or keeping you from writing, head to the Extra Draft contact page (it’s Extra Draft dot com forward slash contact) and send me a note. Perhaps I will be able to help you out through email and then produce another podcast episode to address that issue for the others out there.
09:42 Good luck with your writing and as always, until next week, kids – have fun; write words.