You’ve cleared your schedule. You have a fresh cup of coffee and a heart full of desire to churn out some great material. You sit down at the computer.
But the screen is blank.
You came to the table without inspiration. It is hard to produce quality work when you have nothing to write about. Fostering good habits will help you produce a steady stream of writing inspiration for producing consistent material over time. Any discussion you read about developing on-going inspiration and material will likely contain these three core concepts.
Read – A Lot
Almost any list you see about how to develop inspiration for writing will include reading as an exercise. Matthew Cheuvront writing on Copyblogger.com sums it up this way: More Books, Fewer Blogs. The premise is that spending some time in a good book start to finish will give you enough material to generate many articles (and posts). This is good advice.
Leo Babauta gives similar advice on the site Write To Done. The post 31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing gives several variations of the “read books, not blogs” concept, but he includes blogs (and I do, too).
I read a lot of books. When reading, I always keep a pen and paper with me to jot down notes and ideas when I have them. Trust me when I tell you that if you don’t write it down right away, you won’t remember it later. And even if you do, it will not have the same wording as when it came to you the first time.
It becomes second nature to generate copious notes from reading a single book, and you will find much new material within those pages later. From this material, you should be able to develop some writing inspiration – some new ideas to explore.
With my Kindle I can highlight and take notes in the book and then transfer those right not my computer. I generate a lot of material this way, too.
Most writers will tell you that keeping some kind of journal handy is critical. Get into the habit of keeping a notebook with you at all times in order to write ideas when they come. You should be able to develop quite a stash of material for future use.
Go Old School
Notice I mentioned that I keep a pen and paper handy at all times? I know I mentioned the Kindle, and keeping notes in the book on the device is great, but the old school pen and paper are even better.
And take some time to do this all away from the computer. You will be surprised at what you can come up with when you are taking a stroll, sitting in a chair reading a book, or relaxing in a park. It clears your head to get away from the screen. Let it lead to a flow of ideas.
I think just about every article, book, or blog post I have read about developing inspiration for writing includes keeping some kind of a free-form journal old school style. Most writers I know keep a journal and use it regularly both writing in it and referring to it for ideas.
So what inspires you when you are sitting down to write? What techniques are effective?