I’ve been experiencing some major writer’s block recently, struggling to find any writing inspiration. Even writing this blog post has been difficult. So, instead of searching for inspiration from within, I decided to look for it in the world around me.
If I try to force myself to write when I’m feeling uninspired, I either spend hours staring at a blank screen or write complete garbage that I will just delete the next day. Creative writing prompts are useful for getting me to write something, but they don’t truly spark my creativity or inspire me to write great–or even good–work.
Ironically, the trick I recently discovered that helps my writer’s block is to focus on the world around me instead of on my writing. When I simply live my everyday life, I’m more apt to stumble upon inspiration in the interactions I witness or have myself.
For instance, I was working at the library one evening when I overheard a couple older patrons talking. The man and woman had not seen each other in several years and happened to run in to each other at the library. In the course of their catching up, the woman revealed that her husband had passed a few years ago. The man expressed his genuine condolences, explaining that he had also lost his wife and understood that pain. They then made plans to have lunch together in the near future.
Hearing this interaction woke my dormant creativity. My mind took this scenario and began crafting an elaborate story about two people and their spouses who had been great friends for decades. Life simply caused the two couples to grow apart, and each experienced a great loss. Then, years later, the widowed spouses happened upon each other in their local library and picked their friendship up from where they left off. They began getting coffee and lunch together frequently, reminiscing about their shared lives and the time their families spent apart. Gradually, the two grew closer and closer until their old friendship morphed into something deeper, stronger.
This is just one example of how observing the world around you can inspire your creativity. Besides people watching and eavesdropping, listening to narrative songs like Taylor Swift’s “Ivy” also helps cure my writer’s block. I picture the story the song tells, then expand upon it, adding backstories, dialogue, and setting. Building such stories engages the creative part of my brain, helping motivate and inspire me to write my own stories.
Do you have other strategies for overcoming writer’s block? Share in the comments below!