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5 Ways to Inspire Your Writing

by Fadra Nally on June 16, 2011

Do you ever have those weeks where you feel like you’re going through the motions? It feels like every sentence of every post is a chore to write. More importantly, you’re worried that your readers will spot that a mile away.

Chances are they won’t.

Let me reassure you that most writers go through periods like this. For some, simply taking a break from writing can help to reignite your writing flames. Going out and experiencing more of the world can definitely provide much needed inspiration. But these aren’t options that all of us have.

Sometimes you have to push through. You’ve worked hard to build up an audience. You like to write. You just want to make sure you deliver quality material.

Here are 5 different ways I’ve found inspiration where you might not expect it. While my personal blog, all.things.fadra is technically niche-less (I write about anything I want and I kind of like it that way), not everyone has that luxury. However, these ideas can apply to really any type of blog that you write.

1. A personal experience

This one sounds kind of obvious, doesn’t it? Most of the things we write about are infused with our personal experiences. In this case, I’m talking about a very specific event. It might have been a trip to the grocery store or picking up your son from preschool. It might have been a business meeting at work or a customer service encounter over lunch.

When you feel something during your daily routine, whether it’s sadness, anger, frustration, amusement, excitement, jot down your thoughts (or use the Voice Memo app on your iPhone like I do) and keep it as inspiration for your next post. For me, one of my more popular posts in recent times came from an experience at a local warehouse club when I went to pick up ice for my Mardi Gras party. Who knew?

2. Ripped from the headlines

You don’t have to be political to write about current events. You don’t have to be a journalist either. Unless your job is reporting the news, your blog is a great place to write an op-ed piece. Your thoughts and opinions on a news story can make your blog more relevant and timely and drive more readers to your site. If it’s a story that breaks your heart or fires you up, it’s probably going to make for good writing.

In my city, there was a local story that was so tragic yet incited anger in so many people that knew the story, myself included. We watched the news and read the papers but what we heard were facts. So many of us wanted to say what we were really feeling. I called it “the post I didn’t want to write” and I didn’t. But in the end, I felt better having written it and had a lot of heartfelt comments from people who appreciated that I put into words the same things they were feeling.

3. A photograph

I’m not as bad as I used to be but I’m a saver. You’ll find old fortunes from fortune cookies tucked away in my wallet. You find the program from my 5th grade graduation stored safely in a box. I also tend to save things that truly inspire me. I guess you could say I’m a clipper.

As I was cleaning out my nightstand, I found a photograph from National Geographic that I had saved from a story they had done on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It was a simple photograph of one girl embracing another at a church. The emotion in that photograph inspired me and I finally wrote about it. It ended up being more of a story than I thought and the photograph truly came to life for me.

4. Reading a professional writer

In the blogging world, you’re a writer because you’ve declared yourself so. Some of us are former journalists, or English lit majors, or just really gifted writers. Others know how to construct sentences and paragraphs and use correct punctuation. Others don’t even know how to do that.

For this reason, I recommend taking a break from blog reading and read a highly recommended book in your area of interest. Believe it or not, I don’t read many business related books. I love the knowledge they have but if I’m looking for inspiration, I need to pick up a book (fiction or non-fiction) that I just can’t put down. Because the writing is just that good.

I’m currently finishing a book (that I plan to write about next week) that has me in complete awe of the author’s storytelling ability. Without even thinking it, I find that right after I read, my writing is better. Maybe it’s because I subconsciously want it to be better.

5. Have a conversation

Some of my favorite blog posts to read are those that are simply dialogue. Maybe because they’re just fun and easy to read. For the writer, it’s more of recounting a conversation than telling a story. Sometimes the mundane is the funniest (see well known sitcom “Seinfeld”).

My friend, Josh, who I’ve never met but still consider a friend, wrote an entire post of dialogue. He recounted an evening with his brother. What makes it especially entertaining is that his brother was celebrating graduation and Josh was celebrating too by introducing him to the world of wine tasting. All in all, a very funny and creative post.

These are some of the different ways I try to keep my writing fresh even when my inspiration feels stale. Once you get your mojo back, just make sure you sit and write.

  • Mary@Everyday Baby Steps

    These are some fabulous suggestions, Fadra. I’ve been in a blogging rut lately myself and will use these suggestions to brainstorm some idea. Thanks. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the kinds of posts I, personally, would like to read and have started jotting down ideas. 

  • http://twitter.com/profkrg Kenna Griffin

    This is a fantastic and concise list of ways to generate blog or story ideas. I especially agree with No. 4 about reading professional writing. It really doesn’t matter much what you read. You can learn “dos” and “don’ts” from pretty much anything. Also, it’s difficult to be exposed to new ideas and not generate ideas for discussion. Reading is a “sure fire” way to generate ideas. 

    Thanks for this great resource. I’ve also added your blog into my RSS Feed. I look forward to reading it more.

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