Writer’s Block: 5 Top Tips for Finding Inspiration

#ds139 "Writer's Block"

There are those who say ‘Don’t look for inspiration, just write.’ What about the days when you are stuck with a scene that feels clunky or one of your characters doesn’t seem consistent or exciting enough. Maybe you are are about to embark on a new book, a first book, a short story, or a poem…and the list goes on. Finding ideas for blog posts can sometimes be difficult when many key topics have been covered from all angles.

Here are 5 top tips:

Go for a walk. Get out and stretch your legs. Writing can keep you pinned to a chair for longer than you realise and the exercise alone will get the blood circulating to your brain. Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity while riding a bike. Emerson said of Thoreau: ‘The length of his walk uniformly made the length of his writing. If shut up in the house, he did not write at all.’ Haruki Murukami runs 10K a day when in writing mode and says, ‘Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.’ The Neuroscience of Imagination is a really interesting article on this topic.

See a film. It is a good idea to see films which stretch your imagination, especially if it is a difference genre to your own writing. The visual stimulus and the way the characters are played out often spark ideas for characterisation or scene setting and plot momentum.

Read. Read as much as you can of as many different genres as you can get your hands on. Ian McEwan writes all morning and reads all afternoon. Some agents recommend reading at least as many words as you write each day! With the rise of ereaders it is quick and easy to access a vast range of books.

Pick up a paper if you want to find inspiration from non-fiction.

Dip into a short story if you want a short burst of inspiration. They are packed full of description and swift characterisation. See my recent post on short stories.

Head to a cafe. Go somewhere which is guaranteed to be full of people! You are most probably writing about people, so study them. Watch people’s body language, the way they dress, how they talk. Go and write or meet a friend and observe. You’ll be amazed by how much it helps. I was writing a difficult scene in my novel in a cafe. The scene involved a particular character and, by chance, a guy with similar features and mannerisms to my character sat down at a table nearby. Needless to say the scene was wrapped up by the time I had finished my coffee. It was a complete coincidence but you never know who will walk by or sit down and inspire a particular character in your writing.

Go to a gallery. Or a football match, or any thing that you enjoy and find inspiring. I love art galleries and there is something about art which, for me, crosses over into writing and ideas. I see a painting and think of a story behind the image or wonder about the life of the artist. The biographies on the wall often inspire ideas about a different time frame or issue.

So, go and be inspired then come back and tell us what it is that helps you to get around writer’s block. Do you have any tips for inspiration?



  1. Olivia Wolfe says:

    Great advice. The worst thing we as writers can do is try to force the words to flow. Walk away and get lost in other interests and stimulate your mind elsewhere. The words will come. I find that when I get a case of Writer’s Block that something in my life is wanting center stage and my block is a wayof telling me my efforts are needed elsewhere for a moment. Thanks for sharing.

    ~ O


    1. fcmalby says:

      Wise words, Olivia. Thanks for your advice. There are always so many things vying for our attention that it can be difficult to focus well each day. I think having other creative interests like photography can really help. F


      1. Olivia Wolfe says:

        Yes, I find a perfect balance between my writing and photography. I put so much effort into meeting and making new goals for myself in my writitng that sometimes I just get burned out and need a break. I love picking up my camera and getting lost somewhere for a while. I breathe easier, feel free and when I’m done I am ready to return to work.

        ~ O


      2. fcmalby says:

        That sounds like a good balance. I love the freedom you feel with a camera. I really enjoy travel photography and spent some time in Istanbul in May. It’s a photographer’s paradise! I seem to remember you have 5 children so I’m impressed you find the time for it all.


      3. Olivia Wolfe says:

        Travel Photography has always interested me. You seem to be an explorer in your on right! How awesome! My children are getting older: 9,11,12,16 and 19 so I do alot of my shooting while they are in school and I make time for myself and I plan a weekend roadtrip once a month in search of locations and friends.

        ~ O


      4. fcmalby says:

        That sounds great. I look forward to more of your photos and posts. The weekend road trips sound adventurous.


      5. Olivia Wolfe says:

        I have many advantages that allow me to go. My car gets amazing gas milage ($60 got me over 700 miles) and I have friends all over the east coast so there is no hotel expenses when I venture out. I live for my road trips! They are quite adventurous and sometimes I never know where I’m going to end up or what I may see. It will be still be a few weeks yet before my next one though. I am itching to get out on the open road! lol

        ~ O


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