Overcoming a Lack of Inspiration

by Hope Hanson
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Man using a laptop with overcoming a lack of inspiration text

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. And whether I’m working on a blog post, a paper for class, or a personal project, the one thing I hate more than anything is being struck by a sudden lack of inspiration. If you’ve ever written anything, then you know how quickly that can happen. And you know how frustrating it is when it does happen. Because overcoming a lack of inspiration? It is not easy.

Usually, it seems hopeless. Your well of ideas is empty. You have nothing left. You simply cannot continue. What’s the point? You’re done; game over.

Obviously, we all get over that–eventually. But sometimes, it can take a while. Days, even, if it’s a particularly bad slump. And it’s frustrating when you’re sitting there for so long getting absolutely nothing done! You just want to get over this and get back to writing!

Honestly, I’ve been in a bit of a prolonged funk myself. My current WIP has been stuck at the same point for a couple of weeks, now, because I keep blanking on where I should take the story next.

So, because I know how upsetting being in this situation can be, I’ve decided to share with you a list of the things I usually do when I’m in the process of overcoming a lack of inspiration! Obviously, some of these things might not work for you, but hopefully, you’ll be able to find at least one thing here to jumpstart your creative drive!

Use writing prompts

Obviously, one of the easiest ways to work around a lack of inspiration and get yourself back into the groove of writing is to find inspiration elsewhere. And writing prompts are one of the best and simplest ways to do so! You can just type a generic query of “creative writing prompts” into your search engine or you can be more specific about what types of prompts you’re looking for. Either way, you’ll get hundreds of results and a massive number of great writing prompts to choose from.

Personally, my favorite go-to sites for finding writing prompts include the Seventh Sanctum Writing Prompt Generator, the Story Shack Writing Prompt Generator, and the Future is Fiction generator for random plot points.

As for how I use these prompts, I’ll usually just write a little short piece independent of whatever I’m currently working on. However, some generators are great for getting ideas for what should happen next in your story. For example, that’s usually how I use the last one mentioned above.

Explore your characters

One of my absolute favorite parts of writing a story is developing my characters. Regardless of whether I’m trying to overcome a lack of inspiration or not, this is something I always do. I basically just open a blank document on my computer, and then I write out my characters’ backstories. It’s a great way to explore your characters, and it’s a great way to overcome a creative rut.

After all, your characters are the crux of your story. How could you not get inspiration from delving into their pasts? A lot of the time, I’ll find something in my character’s past that can cause a problem in their future, and then bam! I now know where the plot’s going next!

Have a brainstorming session with a free-flow of ideas

This is just how I come up with almost all of my ideas, even when I’m not in the middle of a creative dry spell. Letting your ideas just flow freely and writing them down really does clear up space for other, new ideas. Seriously, it doesn’t matter how much merit you think any particular idea has–just write it down! You’re going to end up scrapping most of what you come up with, but that’s not what’s important, here. What matters is clearing away the cobwebs and just freeing your mind.

A lot of the time, we can become hyperfocused on finding The One idea. It’s a bad headspace to be in, and it just drives your creativity straight into the ground. I’m guilty of doing this myself, but after I started regularly brainstorming, it became a lot less of a problem!

Start doing some research

Alright, this one might seem a little odd to some people, but hear me out!

Most of our story ideas are inspired by something. Whether that be history, past experiences, or something entirely different, there’s usually something behind these ideas. So, for me, I usually dive into deeper research on whatever topic my story was originally based on. Almost always, it’ll turn up something I can use to move my story forward and make it that much more interesting!

Of course, it doesn’t have to be traditional “research.” It could just be watching videos or movies. It could just be searching “random interesting facts” and seeing what comes up. Whatever it is, I can guarantee you’ll find something that will inspire you!

Start (or continue) a “side-hustle” writing project

Invariably, I’ll end up working on more than one project at once. And usually, my second project ends up being something a little less serious and a little more fun. I don’t care as much about making everything perfect for my secondary WIP, and that makes it easier to work on. It’s also usually an idea that I really, really love, so that makes it even more fun!

But, in all seriousness, having a secondary project that you can turn to when you’re struggling with your main one is great. It gives you the opportunity to keep writing without the pressure of making everything just right. I highly recommend it!

And honestly? You might end up becoming just as passionate about your side-hustle–and that means that when you finish your current project, you already have a solid foundation for the next work!

Listen to music

Okay, for me, listening to music plays a huge role in my writing process. I have character playlists, book playlists, emotion-based playlists… The list goes on and on.

But the main point here is this: Listening to music can be incredibly inspiring, and sometimes hearing the right lyrics or the right song can go a long way towards restoring your creativity. Of course, the effectiveness of this method is going to greatly differ person to person; some people are just more inclined to music than others, and that’s perfectly alright. It’s about figuring out what works for you, after all!

But if you are someone who loves music and listens to a lot of it, then that just might be the cure for you whenever you’re struck by a lack of inspiration.

Take a Break!

A lot of the time, the best approach to overcoming a lack of inspiration is to just power through and keep writing. But sometimes, that can actually make the situation worse.

Feeling like you no longer enjoy writing is, obviously, bad. And a story that you’ve forced yourself to write despite it not feeling right is going to seem just that: forced.

So, if you’re in a situation where writing is beginning to feel more like a chore than anything else? Take a break–and don’t feel guilty about it! We all need a little time away now and then, even from the things we love. Do something else you enjoy, and then come back to writing when you feel ready!

So, is there anything in particular you do when overcoming a lack of inspiration? What gets you out of a creative drought? Let me know down below in the comments!

Finally, if you’re looking for even more tips for how to break through a creative block, I highly recommend buying and reading some guidance books from professional authors! These can often have some great advice about how to do just that. You can check out my list of the Best Books on Writing to start!

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