Updated: Feb 27
(c) Lizabeth Phoenix via Youtube.
We’ve all been there. You sit at the screen, and you either have no idea what you want to write, or you have no idea how to write it. Or, you came up with a completely different idea and now want to write about that.
As a sci-fi fantasy author who’s been writing for years, I’ve had my fair share of writer’s block. Plus, I’ve discovered this experience doesn’t confine itself to novel writing. I write about gaming and pop culture on a volunteer basis for Couch Soup and trust me, writer's block will find you anywhere…even when writing articles about your favourite topics.
If you’ve been struggling to put the pen to the page, you’re definitely not alone! (Pro Tip: Outlining actually does help, at least in my experience.) There have been days when even though I want to make progress on my story or article, I have a hard time writing on it. Thankfully, my family is super supportive and doesn’t let me procrastinate too long!
I’ve learned a good deal by going through those moments where I don’t feel like writing. Now that I’ve published a short story and completed the first round of professional editing for my dystopian novel, I’ve discovered several ways to find writing inspiration when the writer’s block is REAL.
If you’re feeling uninspired, are experiencing some lack of motivation, or just want more ways to get the ideas going, I’ve compiled a list of places to find inspiration to finish your stories (or start a new one)!
This is not me telling you to copy and paste from your favourite stories. Plagiarism is an ultimate no no, not just in the literary community but all around. Stories are loved because they are unique, not copied and pasted. But what fandoms can do is show you what you like to watch, read or listen to.
There’s a common saying that you should write what you want to read, because if you like it, it’s likely that at least one other person out there will like it, too. Take the broad aspects of your favourite fandoms, and convert those into your own unique ideas.
TV shows can teach us a lot about character development, games can teach us about structure and pacing, books can teach us about narrative voice and writing style, and comics can inspire our imaginations. The list goes on!
Our favourite books can do a lot to destroy writer’s block. Sometimes, one of the problems we face as writers is we know what we want to write, we just don’t know how to write it. Looking to our favourite authors and genres can help us discover how others have told stories in the past, so we can learn from those who have come before us.
For instance, a lot of writers are working on stories that have comparable titles. If one of your comparable titles is The Hunger Games because your characters face a lot of daunting challenges, you could read The Hunger Games series and learn from how Suzanne Collins constructed her dystopian world.
This can serve as instruction as you learn to develop your own voice, novel planning methods, and narrative style. This method is tried and true, and editors will often give you recommended reading as part of their feedback.
Video games can show us a lot in terms of pacing and how to keep a story clean and concise. I’ve played all the Uncharted games, and can personally vouch that you won’t find a lot of filler dialogue in their scripts.
For immersive worlds, look no farther than Assassin's Creed and FromSoftware, Inc’s upcoming fantasy RPG Elden Ring. Watching linear single-player games can give you the courage to cut your darlings for the sake of the overall narrative.
You can even learn story structure and how to keep viewers (and readers) invested. If you’ve ever had that feeling of “I must find out what happens next,” then you’ve experienced the same elements it takes to make a book a page-turner.
Many writers rave about how music helps them get into a creative flow. Jenna Moreci, best-selling author of the dark fantasy book The Savior’s Champion, wrote the story after listening to the AFI cover of Head Like a Hole by Nine Inch Nails.
If you’ve hit a roadblock, try putting on your favourite music and envisioning scenes and scenarios to go with it. I do this, personally, and have found it helpful to create playlists to inspire your work and keep the ideas going.
You might be surprised with how much you can think of after just a few songs. Be sure to keep a note nearby so you can write down any ideas, too.
There’s definitely truth to the phrase “there’s nothing new under the sun.” If you’re struggling with how to construct your story, films can teach us a lot about story structure, pacing, and how to keep things clean and concise.
Are you writing a story with superpowered people? Why not watch The Boys?
Telling a historical fantasy story? There’s Marco Polo, Outlander, and The Last Kingdom. Lovecraft Country (incredible storytelling) and Altered Carbon cover multiple genres, including science-fiction, horror, and drama.
My friends have introduced me to a myriad of new shows, and each one has something that helps it stand out from the crowd. Something that makes it shine.
Don’t plagiarize these ideas; rather, use them to learn how to balance character development, world-building, dialogue, humour, and drama.
Use them as tools to learn the craft, so your own work can shine.
When all else fails, look to your own life experiences. Many stories are full of relatable elements that are part of the human experience as a whole. Coming of age trials, the struggles of adulting, maintaining relationships, outgrowing friendships, and finding your way.
All of these are events that we experience throughout our lives, and when paired with the right characters and plot, can make for a moving read.
Daily life can also provide inspiration. If you travel often and have been to the Sahara, you certainly know what it feels like to wade through the shifting sands of a desert planet. Your weekday trips to your local coffee shop could be the perfect setting for a contemporary romance or suspenseful thriller.
Some people have very vivid dreams that would make for fantastic stories. My dystopian novel was actually inspired by one of those epic obstacle-course dreams that leave you feeling like you can win a mud run, provided you have the right shoes.
Bottom Line: There’s writing inspiration all around us if we’re brave enough to look at the world with a creative eye.
Throughout my writing journey, I’ve had ups and downs when it comes to writing motivation. Sometimes I write every chance I get because I just want to get back to that world and my characters.
Other times, days get busy, and there isn’t a lot of time to write no matter how much I’d like to sit down and type. But whether you’re dreaming of writing a novel and don’t know where to start, or you’re struggling to figure out what to write about, it can be helpful to know where to look to feel inspired.
Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas to help you put your own, unique stories together that will rock the world.
Thanks so much for guest posting Lizabeth! You can check out her short story The Devourer's Oath on Amazon and Goodreads. If you're looking to know more about Lizabeth, check out her website and Instagram.
Check out the trailer for The Devourer's Oath here and I'll catch you all in a couple weeks:
(c) Lizabeth Phoenix via Youtube.