Have you ever wondered how to get inspired?
Obviously there’s no definite answer but below are a few tips that I have always found useful to keep in mind whilst trying to get your head back in the writing zone.
I’ve been trying to keep myself inspired recently and one of my biggest flaws when it comes to writing is that I am fantastic at procrastinating. I can feel myself procrastinating. When I think “right, okay, I’m going to sit down and do some writing in a minute”, two hours later my flat is the cleanest it’s ever been, I’ve drank copious amounts of tea and then it’s time for bed. So my first tip is:
Identify when you’re procrastinating…and stop.
This is easier said than done but like I’ve said, I’ve come to know when I’m procrastinating, I can feel myself, my body moves of its own accord and tidies, washes up, does my laundry but my mind is constantly berating itself screaming “DO SOME GOD DAMN WORK.” This has slowly gotten easier to control and the only reason it has is because I became aware of it. The cleaning can wait, the dishes can pile up. Write first, tidy later.
Learn to catch yourself procrastinating and then just have the willpower to say “no, I’ll tidy after I’ve written 1000 words”. You can bust out 1000 words in about an hour or less if you really try whereas the laundry can wait an hour right?
Get a schedule, and stick to it.
Now I’m a little hypocritical saying this as it’s not something I currently do but I am trying to do. The reason I am including it is because I know it works because when I’ve done it in the past it’s worked.
I’ll use myself as an example but obviously it’s adaptable. I’m quite lucky in that I have a Monday to Friday job and I work a Dolly Parton (9 til 5). You may have odd shifts that change week to week but you can just work around that.
So my schedule will be (and isn’t yet – refer back to the first line of this post) Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, I can’t control that so I’ll mark that on my schedule.
Now realistically I can get up an hour earlier in the morning so I could write then. Alternatively I could spend the extra hour in bed and wake up JUST as tired because let’s face it, one more hour doesn’t really make that much difference, morning is morning no matter what time you get up – it all sucks.
Now, if you’re a morning person hooray! You lucky sausage, get yourself up, have a coffee and your morning poo and sit the f**k down and write.
After work I’ll come home, make myself some dinner (I live on my own and have a slow cooker so I make my meals in bulk usually and then freeze them making it quick and handy – you should do the same if you can) and wash up right then to get it out of the way (this isn’t procrastination – it’s just getting it out of the way whilst you’re in and out of the kitchen anyway).
Now sit down and write again. I wouldn’t give yourself a target of time in this instance, you’ve got all night. Aim for word count, if you give yourself an hour you will sit there, not do anything and then the hour is up and you’ll walk away with little to no progress. If you know you can write 1000/2000 words in an hour then say to yourself “I’m not moving until I’ve written X amount of words”, this way you’ll more than likely get it done in that hour slot anyway. Plus this is good because the faster you work the quicker you’re done and if you’re not in the mood for writing on that particular day then this is a bonus as it gets it out of the way quicker.
Remove distractions from your computer.
There’s a couple of things you can do here to avoid your mouse slowly wandering away from the word processor and going elsewhere.
If you’re writing a blog post and you are writing it directly into your browser as I am doing right now then close all your tabs other than this one. Now hide your bookmark bar or remove Facebook/Twitter (whatever you use to distract yourself) from the bar so you can’t click it.
If you’re writing on a word processor then hide the taskbar (or dock if you’re on a Mac) or again just remove the short cut to your internet browser so it’s not there saying “click me…click me…”
From this point on you should hopefully have less reason to click away, if you have Facebook open for example and suddenly it changes from “Facebook” to “(1) Facebook” because you have a notification you’ll see this and be tempted to click.
Also, trying turning off your internet *shock horror*
Get away from your computer…and go watch/read/play something.
There’s so many points to make but I don’t want to go on for too long so this shall be my last:
Step away from the computer. Forcing yourself to write even when you don’t feel like it can be a good tactic to get the work done, it may not be the best work but it’s work and can be fixed later. Plus the more you write the easier it becomes, just like when you go to the gym. Once you’re through the first week of slogging it at the gym you WANT to go exercise, just as you’ll WANT to write.
But eventually, you’ll need to refresh your creative energies.
Think of a mobile phone, if it completely runs out of juice when you plug it in you can’t use it for a little bit whilst it recharges enough to run the operating system, eventually it will reboot and stay on whilst also charging. Don’t let this happen to your brain.
If you’re brain switches off completely and runs out of creativity then your screwed, at least for the short term, but this is down time you can avoid.
Every now and again when your inspiration levels hit about 10% go plug yourself into another format. For example last night, I went to see The Martian with Matt Damon and it was such an amazing film and I thought “wow, I want to write something as awesome as this” (I’ve not read the book but I assume it’s just as good if not better).
On the flip side if it was shit I would have thought, as I have in the past, this is dreadful and it got made? THEN I CAN GET A SCRIPT MADE TOO!
This one film has not only inspired my further writings but was also the inspiration for this blog post. After seeing it I felt positively recharged with new ideas. If I had just sat in front of my computer all night starting at the flashing cursor I would have ran out of words and developed negative feelings with the idea of writing and I would have put it off longer. As I have done in the past. Many, many, times. (I’m writing this post from experience y’know!)
And it makes me think, how many novels could I have written in the years I’ve spent with my finger firmly up my arse, whilst simultaneously doing the dishes?