I break all the rules in movie theaters.
Not kidding. My family makes me sit as far away from other people in the theater as possible so I don’t disturb people while writing on my phone. It’s a wonder I haven’t been kicked out yet.
I just can’t help it. I’m doing one of my favorite tips for never running out of inspiration.
And the tips work. I’ve never run out of inspiration a day in my life.
I can’t remember a time in my life where I haven’t had sleep problems; my brain literally can’t stop bubbling up new ideas in my evil cauldron of melodramatic inspo. I actually have to take melatonin in order to catch some Zs while it’s still dark out.
And even then, my brain doesn’t shut off. My dreams helped me decide to make a shipped couple in my novel canon!
So what’s my secret? (Besides insanity, of course. I crossed that line years ago and really don’t know how.)
Here are my top five tips that have helped me never run out of inspiration a day in my life!
1. Write Down All Inspiration the Very Minute You Get It
A short pencil is better than a long memory. You’re probably going to forget it if you don’t write it down immediately.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
Remember how I’m always on my phone during movies? I’m writing down cool quotes, plot lines, scene ideas, or epic fight moves in a note entitled “Name-of-Movie Quotes/Inspiration.”
I’ve been doing this since 2016, when I began writing novels. I take inspiration from books, movies, music, things people say, things I see, dreams, daydreams, sermons, my life, even school lessons; a school lesson is what inspired my entire Warfare series!
But it’s so important to write down inspiration or ideas before you can forget them.
When you’re constantly writing down what inspired you, you’ll have an endless account of ideas to come back to when you’re stuck.
The moment I’m on the hunt for a sassy comeback or help with a fight scene, I go through my (thousands of) notes. My phone is packed with inspiration to help me kick writer’s block’s butt whenever I need it.
2. Tune In to When You Feel Most Creative
You know it when you’re in the zone; you get lost in your own world and could daydream or create for hours.
For me, that’s when I’m swinging outside with my headphones in, listening to music. I’ll literally swing for hours at a time, and my brain just goes wild with freedom. ?
I take waaaay too many “swing breaks” a day. ?
Another place is when I’m driving in the car, listening to music and staring out the window (but the car has to be moving). I adore long car rides for this reason.
Unfortunately, another place for me is my bed at night, when I’m desperately trying to sleep. You won’t believe how many scenes of my novels have been sparked when I’m lying in my bed. (One night I brainstormed 22 post ideas for this blog alone in just a few minutes!)
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
Those are just a few examples, but you get my drift. Find that place, that zone where your imagination just soars.
And if you don’t have one? Go find one! Start by wherever you find yourself drifting off to daydream.
(In the middle of a class would probably not be an opportune time to get in the zone, even if you do daydream then. Just saying.)
Once you’re in that zone, write down whatever comes to mind that you really, really like.
It’s okay to give it some time to germinate and to ponder on it, but don’t move on to anything else until the idea is safely stored on paper/in your phone.
3. Don’t Copy; Be Inspired
Inspiration is not plagiarism! Don’t write down a quote from a movie and use those exact words. That’s a little sneaky.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
Plus, you’ll be hesitant to use any ideas you’ve gained from places if you know you’re stealing them. And you should be, if you have morals. So don’t steal. XD
Be inspired by things.
For example, I wrote down this quote from an episode of Ninjago:
Person A: Can we stop playing the blame game and focus on what’s ahead of us?
Person B: How about what’s behind us?! *as enemy comes upon them from behind*
I ended up using those exact words in an earlier draft of my current novel, but in the fourth draft I finished and am currently macro-editing, the inspired quote ended up being:
I wince, clutching a hand to my heart as if to pull Hinoki out of it. He is behind me now.And ahead of me is a fight I have yet to finish.
Instead of using the quote’s exact words, I took inspiration from the quote about contrasting what’s ahead and what’s behind.
You most likely won’t end up doing the exact same thing as someone else. Your creation will have its own characters or premise. But still aim to take twists on what inspires you the most, especially if the inspiration is from another popular creation.
You’ll be limited if you do exactly what someone else does. But when you can take your own twists in a hundred different directions out of one piece of inspiration? The possibilities are seriously endless. ?
I just love being a Christian. I get to call above for lift-up and supernatural help while non-believers… can’t. (If you’re not a Christian, get access to this incredible tip and a lot of other awesome things like eternal salvation by asking Jesus to touch your heart.)
Last fall, I was stuck on outlining the second half of my fourth draft. Really stuck. I was brainstorming some completely new stuff, so it was pretty tough. After bemoaning it for about an hour, I laughed out loud.
You forgot to pray, you big dummy!
So I prayed. Not ten minutes later, I was scribbling in fury over two entire notepad pages, trying to get a huge, rushing waterfall of ideas out on paper.
When you make it your life’s goal to make Jesus famous and let God get involved in your writing, He’ll give you ideas no one’s thought of.
Jerry Jenkins, anyone? Author of the Left Behind series and twenty-one New York Times bestsellers. How about Janette Oke? Author of the When Calls the Heart series, which has been turned into a TV show that is the #1 Sunday night show now.
5. Take Chances in Your Own Life
I’m always nervous to take chances in life.
But whenever I do get over my nerves, I’m able to experience new things that not only influence me, but my stories.
For example, in being required to go to my first youth camp last summer, one cool thing I took away from it was how it felt to jump into freezing water and then step out to humid air.
Because my novel is set in Japan and the summers there are a lot like the summers here where I live (Valrico, FL—come stalk me!), I was able to accurately convey the feeling of it in these two paragraphs (ignore cringey early draftness):
Daring to pull a silent breath in, I slip off and land chest-deep into the river. The exhaustion from the past few days leaves immediately at the shock of the cold temperature racking through my frame. Despite the overcast humidity of the day, the water chills me to my bones.…I climb out of the river on the opposite bank, and the minute I’m out of the water, humid warmth permeates through my body.
Whenever I go through pain or hardship ’cause life is stinky (always defeating it in Jesus’ Name, of course ?) or situations that make me uncomfortable, I’m able to learn how to accurately convey the experience and emotion in my own writing.
Your own life is a constant well of inspiration, and the more of it you live, the more you add to it.
Sometimes I’m so caught up in the stories I’m creating that I forget how they’re just a reflection of real life. The more of life I live, the more realistic my stories can be, and the more inspired I am to create.
Quick Takeaway for Skimmers Like Me:
1. Write down any and all inspiration as quickly as possible, and draw it from everywhere; entertainment, life, school. You’ll have an endless account of ideas.
2. Find those moments where you get lost in your thoughts or daydreams. That’s called the Zone. Recognize that time or place and visit it regularly for a boost of creativity. Examples are alone and listening to music, driving in the car, quiet time…
3. Don’t directly copy what you’re inspired by. That’s something called illegal, and you’ll be limited if you do exactly what someone else does. But if you take your own twists on it, you can take a hundred different directions that make for endless possibilities and inspiration.
4. Pray. When you make it your life’s goal to make Jesus famous and let God get involved in your writing, He’ll give you ideas no one’s thought of. Even if you’re not creating something strictly Christian, if you’re doing what you do for His glory and your content is clean and moral, He’ll bless it.
5. I know it’s scary and nerve-wracking to get out of your comfort zone. But you’re living out research and experience to make your stories that much more powerful and realistic. Not everyone knows what it’s like to get up and speak before a thousand people, but you might, and you can convey that to your readers. (Or even everyday things like feeling your heart pound in your chest before having a hard conversation.)
Writer’s block is totally an illusion. Inspiration is out there. You’ve just gotta tap into it, and these tips are my favorite ones for doing just that!
What’s your favorite way to get inspired? Have you used any of these tips yourself?