One of the biggest problems writers face is the curse of ‘writer’s block’ or a lack of creative inspiration. Sometimes, finding prompts and motivation can seem like walking through a never-ending tunnel. Here are some places you can find creative prompts to keep the ideas flowing.
Song lyrics can sometimes sound like poetry, and tell their own story. Many of you will have a favourite song, either because of the way it makes you feel (happy, joyful, empowered etc.) or because of the associations you have with it (perhaps where you heard it or who it reminds you of). Thanks to all this emotion that we attach to a song, as well as the power behind the lyrics and the way it sounds (loud and angry, or soft and calm, for example), music can be a fantastic prompt to get writing, and enhance your writing experience.
You can try taking your favourite lyric, and using this as a prompt for a poem or story. Ask yourself questions like: What is the meaning behind this? How does this make me feel? What does this make me think of? As well as this, you can free-writing while listening to music, which can be incredibly cathartic and imaginative. See where the words take your pen, or how the melody makes you feel. You might capture lyrics, or emotions or the story behind the song on the page, and this could eventually develop into a poem or story.
Another way you can use music to inspire you is to think about what music your characters would listen to. Take an adventure through different genres and playlists (perhaps even make a playlist for your character), and just as you carry emotional attachment to various songs, think about how your character might do the same, and thus, what is shows about their personality. Get into their head and really get to know them and your characters will become more believable and more enjoyable to read. For more information on character building, click here.
Reading similar books/genres
We’ve probably all been in the position of walking into a bookstore and seeing the vast array of *insert genre here* books available, and having our hearts sink a little. Do not be disheartened by all the incredible writing that already exists in the world, for someone else’s talent does not take yours away! But as well as this, it is a fantastic opportunity to research and be inspired for your own writing.
Reading similar books or books from the same genre as yours will help you gain insight into what works, what doesn’t and what your book will offer that theirs doesn’t. Take the time to think about tropes you like and don’t, POVs you like and don’t, characters and conflicts and the lists goes on… looking at all the elements that make up an already successful book in a field you hope to join will only give you insight into how you too can make an impact. Be cautious that as well as being inspired from this, you also need to be checking why your book needs to be on the shelf too. Learn from, weigh up and be inspired by similar books to yours, but all the while, ask yourself: what is my unique selling point?
For those who haven’t used it before, Pinterest is an online moodboard app/website on which you can collate images from the site onto online pinboards. These can be an excellent planning tool and a way to inspire your writing. You can have different pinboards for different elements of your story, such as the setting, or for different characters. You can then search for pictures and ideas that link to your different elements. For example, if you were planning to set your book in a zombie apocalypse, but were having trouble picturing how it would look, you could search something like ‘apocalypse hospital’ and be met with a vast array of images to spark your imagination. You can then ‘pin’ these and collate a visual representation of your story.
As well as this, you can just search for images to springboard a story idea or poem. This could be anything from ‘dystopian aesthetic’ to get you in the mindset of a futuristic novel, or you can simply search ‘writing prompt’ and find other advice/prompts to get your creativity going.
You may be thinking, ‘my life is pretty boring’, but you’d be surprised at the pockets of excitement you experience everyday that can create interesting events or problematic characters. We recommend carrying a little notebook everywhere you go, or you could use the notes on your phone. Every time you witness something funny, strange, exciting or even scary, write it down. For example, you might be waiting to meet a friend and see a cafe worker spill a tray full of drinks all over the floor. This might, to you, be a silly story to tell people when you get home, but what you should do is start thinking ‘could that happen to any of my characters?’ or ‘what would my characters do if that happened to them?’. This can then launch you into a creative free-writing session where you play these ideas out, or it might actually make up a part of your story. This works particularly well for realism, but could inspire a range of genres, from romance to horror.
As well as this, you might see tens, hundreds or even thousands of different faces on certain days of your life, and among these could be the perfect inspiration for your characters. Watch the people you pass, sit next to or any that catch your eye when you’re out and about. Watch their mannerisms and the way they carry themselves. Shaping realistic characters means paying attention to detail and bringing them to life. Try a free-write where your characters meets an interesting person you spot, or try writing this person you see as a character into your story or one of your scenes. As well as this, their mannerisms could influence the way your characters behave. For example, say you’re at a station and see a person nervously biting their nails, this might have you thinking ‘would any of my characters have this mannerism?’. Some times the prompt you need is just outside your door!
We hope this post has given you some new found inspiration and some different ways to channel your creative energy. Don’t forget, we also post a new writing prompt every week, so check back every Monday if you need something to get you going, and be sure to check out the prompts already on the site too.