Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Get Inspired in a Less Than Colorful World by Devin Berglund


There are times when we come to a screeching dead halt in our writing, and we can’t seem to find any inspiration. During the times that we feel empty we look into the world for inspiration and find a world falling apart. We see soldiers fighting in wars across the seas, homeless people on the streets, and starving children in Africa. Then we find ourselves wondering how to get inspired.

I have found myself in this position many times and have wondered, how can I make a difference with my writing anyways? How do I get myself out of this situation? When these questions start to circle around in my mind I have a bad habit of leaving my computer. Which isn’t what I should do. Instead I should pull inspiration out of the un-colorful world. At this moment I can imagine that many questions are forming in your minds, like: “Devin, how do I stay inspired in a less than colorful world? How can I get inspiration when everything else around me is so uninspiring?” or something like, “How can I make color when I have none?”

These are some tough questions, but I do have answers for them. When I find myself in a funk and can’t get inspired I look deeper into the issue. That gives me inspiration and story ideas. With the soldiers who are fighting in wars across the sea, I find myself asking questions.Who are they? What are their stories? Were they married? What are their struggles and emotions? Asking this question actually inspired me when writing the short story “Christy Nelson’s Story” that I wrote for “New Branch of the Journey”.

As soon as I ask myself these questions my mind starts reeling with ideas, thoughts, characters, and plots. I want to make a difference in my reader’s lives and I know you do too. We need to remember that our less than colorful world needs our color, since we add color to the world with our words. Here are some ideas to help draw out inspiration when you don’t feel inspired.

1. Go for a walk in the wilderness
Nature has a way of bringing out the light, when you see all the issues that our world has, you get brought back to how our world should be.

“We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder-cloud, and the rain.” -Henry David Thoreau

My mom always told me that fresh air clears the mind and she was definitely right, besides you can get heaps of color just by stepping out into the woods. Listen to the sounds. What do you hear? What do you see? Look at all of the details.

2. Delve deeply into other things that will open your mind creatively
Do you practice another form of art? Paint? Music? Dance? Why not try something?

3. Get away from your normal setting
I am living in Brisbane, Australia (a big city if you are not familiar with it). Last weekend my boyfriend and I went to visit his Dad on the Sunshine Coast. We woke up early one morning to watch the sun rise over the Sunshine Coast. Escaping from the city inspires me, because I grew up in the country and was used to nature all around me. Something as small as getting away from your normal settings is a great way to find new ideas for stories, settings, and characters.

4. Get enough sleep
They say if you sleep enough hours in a night, that you will have a better chance of remembering your dreams. Dreams inspire! For one week I went to sleep earlier the night before and woke up earlier to write. I was amazed with how vivid my dreams were and how much easier I remembered them.

5. Get out and volunteer
Seeing good in tough situations can work wonders, it may even give you a new story idea. Use the emotions you see in people as well. Such as the pain in the homeless man’s eyes or the tears that come when you ask him how he is doing.

6. Emotion
Use the emotion you experience. Write about how you feel and how it affects you. You never know when that will help you with a character you are writing later. Keep a journal for this.

7. Silence
Go someplace and seek silence. Light some candles, pray, and meditate. Listen to relaxing music.

8. Take an online journey of inspiring blogs and websites
Check out inspiring pictures or my newest addiction = Pinterest. You can find interesting ideas for characters and settings on there.

9. Read a good book 
Check out Goodreads.com.

10. Change your outlook
When things are dark, dreary, or uninspiring change your point of view, change your outlook… Look at it from someone else’s shoes. Take a pen and paper someplace to watch people and write down their story or what you think is going on in their lives.

11. Ask yourself the hard questions
Best-selling author, Steven James, once said, “You don’t have a story until you have conflict.” Since we live in a world where conflicting things happen all the time, we must pull inspiration out of the darkness around us by asking ourselves the hard questions. When you know what your character wants then you can find out what will go against your character goals.

12. If you still don’t feel inspired...
Continue to show up and write every day! I try writing 2,000 words a day. There have been a few times that I hadn’t wanted to write, but I made myself. When I read over it later I was surprised with what I’d written!

How about you? What do you do to keep the inspiration flowing?


Devin Berglund is a writer from rural Minnesota. She is currently living in Brisbane, Australia where she is a freelance writer/designer. She majored in English/Mass Communications with a Certificate in Publishing from Minnesota State University of Moorhead. She also designed a book "New Branch of the Journey" with an independent publishing company. The story she was speaking about above is also included in the book. She is currently working on her first full-length novel and can’t wait to start her search for an agent and publisher.

Connect with Devin:
You can follow her on twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/devinberglund
And her website: (keep checking back as it is still in the works) www.devinberglund.com

About New Branch of the Journey
“Embark on an adventure with the artists, writers, and photographers from New Branch of the Journey! It is an literary/arts magazine that is thrilled to share stories, experiences, and memories that stir excitement in your life!”

8 comments:

  1. I tried #1 and #3 this weekend and it really helped. We also had a DVD marathon (no TV, no wifi) and that actually helped jumpstart some ideas, too.

    Thanks so much for the great ideas.

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    1. I love #1 and #3! They are really good ones to get inspiration flowing! Ahh, I bet the DVD marathon was fun! It's interesting how certain moves strikes the right chords for writing. Like just last night I saw the new movie "Snow White & the Huntsman" and I was inspired from second one of the movie. :)

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  2. What an amazing blog post! All of these numbered suggestions really work, and how great of you to suggest them. Getting motivated to write (at least for me) is the hardest part about writing. Starting anything is never easy. But your suggestions are wonderful ways to begin, and they certainly will get the imagination going. My one extra suggestion: always keep a small notepad and pen handy when you're doing any of the above mentioned suggestions. You'd be surprised how quickly the imagination can start to work once you've awakened it.

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    1. Hello Darlene, This is such a true piece of advice! It's sooo worth it to keep a notebook and pen (a comfy one, at that) near by at all times. I carry a small notebook in my purse for the moments that inspiration hits... It can definitely come at unexpected moments. :)

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  3. What great ideas! I tend to be overwhelmed by things I want to write. I have too many ideas, so I sometimes get stuck and don't do any of them. I'll clean a room to avoid making the decision. To overcome this, it really helps me to have a specific, written-down focus--and deadlines help too.

    Thanks for you post!

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    1. Yes, that tends to happen to me sometimes too. :P A friend once told me that if you sit down to write none-stop for an allotted amount of time (like 30 mins) and then stop at then end of the 30 minutes - then you can jot down all the ideas that you don't want to forget (on post-it-notes or something else you have handy.) Then you can start writing for an amount of time again. :) I have been trying that the last few times I've sat down to write. It's helped. :)

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    2. haha... sorry about the typos up above! I was typing on my phone... :/

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  4. This is why I love writing historical fiction. It seems to me that there is an unending source of inspiration in the real life characters and events I read about. I have to reel myself in once in a while to stay focused on one story at a time. But I do lose my mental energy once in a while so many of the things you suggested are good solutions.

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