Finding inspiration to write is hard. Coming up with fresh, innovative ideas and actually forming those ideas into cohesive sentences is no easy feat for any writer, regardless of how long they have been writing for. When you’re a student trying to balance those 9am lectures, upcoming Tabula deadlines and weekly hangovers after POP!, finding the time to even use your brain for something else can be difficult.
But, there is one massive tip to remember when you are searching for the next bestseller idea: observation is your best friend. A change in your environment can kick-start those creative energies again. A new location means new observations, new things and people to look at. Observation is a direct gateway to thought processes that allow the brain to imagine and expand on what you see.
So, where do you start?
A coffee shop
Costa on Central Campus is a great location to observe the people around you. Students and non-students alike venture into the popular cafe for their caffeine pick-me-ups. Look at them. Study them. Who are they? What’s their story? How old are they? Who are they going back to with those two lattes? You can create an entire character profile just by guessing the life of someone you observe. The ambience may also help you to focus as you adjust to your new environment, because your brain has to think harder to ignore the other distractions. Listen in on people’s dialogue to see if a certain conversation triggers an idea for you. Get your caffeine fix and your story in one go.
Using the fact that you are surrounded by books and ideas can turn that dream into your own personal heaven
If you have a vendetta against cafes, why not try going to the bookshop? Nothing gets the ball rolling quite like reading blurbs and brainstorming where the story could go. Spending your time surrounded by books is a writer’s dream. Using the fact that you are surrounded by books and ideas can turn that dream into your own personal heaven. Take the profession of a character, a name, one tiny moment in the plot (like the protagonist running for a bus) and let your head explore the pathways that character could take.
On the bus or train
Many authors have confessed in interviews that a story idea came to them while they were on the train, or the bus or driving in a car. Travelling—and taking advantage of the time you are on the bus between Coventry and Leamington, hopefully heading to a bookstore or cafe—is another way to fuel creativity. Again, you see so many people and places. All you need is a good imagination and a willingness to shift your perceived reality. Look at the trees. Imagine they are speaking to you. What would they say? Imagine what could be there, and then write it.
Make a mood board of all the things that interest you, and see how many you can link together to make a narrative
The writing community
Writers need other writers. If your ideas are running away from you, consider getting more involved in the writing community. Talk to other writers, join the societies focused on writing and reading, participate in clubs, attend events and discussion panels, read blogs, watch movies, communicate on forums or listen to podcasts. There are a multitude of resources out there for you to use to push yourself back into writing.
Social media is also a prevalent method of stirring the cogs in our brain, and is a source of inspiration you can find from your very own bedroom. Scour apps such as Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram, focusing on finding quotes and writing prompts. There are posts ranging from one word to a whole paragraph that can trigger your creativity. Make a mood board of all the things that interest you, and see how many you can link together to make a narrative.
Finally, if none of the above works for you, have a go at free writing. Sit down in your room, in the library, on the Piazza steps, in Xananas, and write. Anything. Everything. Just hold your pen and paper, and scribble until you can’t physically write anymore. Don’t stop. This type of exercise is useful for encouraging creative flow—and maybe you’ll get a good line or two out of it.