I’ve always been someone to document. I’m the person with the camera. I’m the person typing article and story ideas into the Notes app on my phone. And I’m the one friend out of my group who actually likes to sit down and write.
Not everyone enjoys writing, but for those of us who do, it’s a major outlet for expression in our lives. For those who either have writer’s block or are forced to be creative for an assignment, here are five ways I find inspiration for my writing:
1. Movies: As much as I would love to go and travel the world and see for myself the places and people that make up this vastly diverse planet, my bank account just won’t allow it. So I get a lot of information and inspiration second-hand.
I’m a bit of a movie buff, and I like to be exposed to as many shows and films as I can. It’s not because I have nothing better to do or because I’m addicted to the television; it’s because movies and TV shows are a major aspect of culture in America and all over the world.
The making of TV and film is an art form, and it’s a way to see through another’s perspective and view their experience, which is why it is so important to me when I am searching for inspiration. I don’t try to copy what I’ve seen or heard, but build upon it. The more information and images I take in, the more original ideas I have flowing (even though there’s no such thing as an original idea).
2. Tumblr: The way I use Tumblr for inspiration is similar to the way I draw from movies. But there is something very unique about Tumblr as a social media outlet. Within Tumblr is a sort of community that pumps out a certain kind of humor, emotion, and trends. The anonymity of Tumblr is freeing when scrolling through pictures, videos, and blog posts. It’s an uncensored experience, making much of its content seem more honest.
I use Tumblr as a way to collect random ideas that I come across that have inspired my style, taste, and world views all from simply scrolling on my laptop from my bedroom. Tumblr allows me to be adventurous without getting out of bed.
3. Going Places I Wouldn’t Normally Go: I’ve been to concerts, festivals, and other events for school or for a friend that I wouldn’t normally attend and have found an abundance of inspiration in those environments.
I once attended a Folk Festival as an extra credit opportunity for my British Literature class. I don’t listen to Folk music, and I’m not into learning traditional folk dances or learning how to live the farm life, but inserting myself into that environment was something new and different that I’m glad I did.
Being around people who live very different lives and have foreign interests is one of the best ways to get inspiration. You can’t learn something new from doing the same thing and staying in your comfort zone. Making an effort to open yourself up to new walks of life is how you become a worldly person and therefore a better writer.
4. Family Stories: I’ve always been surprised at how some people don’t know much about their parents’ lives. We all have different relationships with out families, but even some of the closest families, I’ve observed, don’t speak much about their past experiences.
Asking my parents about their childhoods and lives before I was born has really helped me with my writing. Several poems I wrote in my college poetry classes were based on funny stories my mom has told me. I wrote one poem about a little girl who was dancing on the bus in Ocean City and kept coming up to my mom and her teenage friends saying “wants popcorns” with her hand outstretched. The story had always stuck out to me as funny and unusual, so I used it in a poem.
5. People-Watching: Last Fourth of July, my boyfriend and I were sitting below the Washington Monument for hours, staking our claim on what little dry ground we could, waiting for the fireworks to start. There was nothing to do but watch the people around us and speculate on their backgrounds. This kept us entertained until dark, but it also gave me inspiration for a short story. Your mind becomes creative while it’s speculating about strangers.
So there are the five ways I find inspiration when I get major writer’s block or even when I’m not looking for inspiration at all. Opening yourself up to people and places outside of your familiar norm is key when searching for creative stimulation.
Grub Street Team Member
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.