The Grind

How to stay inspired as a writer

May 15, 2022, 7:42 p.m.

As a writer, I’ve been frustrated these past two months, lacking inspiration to write anything at all. So I tried a few tactics to help get me going that I want to share with you all. 

1. Read, read and read even more

I cannot emphasize this point enough. I wanted to become a writer before I was a reader, but I quickly realized I was setting myself up for failure. Reading work written by different authors can help you become acquainted with various writing styles as well as help you experiment with your own. This is how you become a good writer. I have read a lot of books by Albert Camus and Delphine De Vigan, whose styles heavily influenced mine. L’Étranger (The Stranger) and La Peste (The Plague) by Albert Camus and No et moi (No and I) and Rien ne s’oppose à la nuit (Nothing Holds Back the Night) are some of my favorite books.

Reading other people’s works can also provide you with a plethora of ideas, themes and concepts to tackle in your next written piece. Even the books’ titles can serve as motivation. This is part of the magic that comes with being present in a library, of being surrounded by great works of literature — the joy of giving in to the temptation of contemplating each book cover, reading every title with a strong desire to know more. There isn’t a single time I’ve ever left a library without at least 10 books on my to-be-read list and at least 10 topics to write about.

2. Surround yourself with other writers

It can feel isolating to go through the ups and downs of writing all by yourself. While you can share your experience with family and friends, no one understands you better than the people who are already going through it. The easiest way to hear from other writers is to follow a bunch of them on your favorite social media platform. I personally love Instagram: I enjoy seeing writers’ content on the app and talking to writers over social media. It’s really easy to reach out and strike a conversation when two people share the same passion.

If possible, I would recommend taking it a step further by joining local writing groups or attending literary events. These allow you to build unmatched connections and access strong support systems.

3. Be open to conversations

At times, while writing, I would avoid conversations with other people to avoid getting distracted yet, somehow, always end up having made no progress at all. This is because I remained uninspired and unmotivated. Once I stopped freaking out about having no time to write, and instead spent a little more time greeting people and saying yes to coffee outings, I opened the door to more meaningful conversations with my Stanford peers. Every interaction has taught me something new — a concept to think about and maybe write about, ranging from gene-editing techniques to service work in the Bay Area.

4. Take it easy and spend time elsewhere 

This point is not a cliché response, I promise, but rather an invitation to fill up your time doing things other than writing. I believe that locking yourself in one room for hours straight, racking your brain in hopes of finding the words needed to fill up the page in front of you, can be really detrimental to your health. I suggest taking some time off every once in a while, doing things other than writing, because inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times.

It’s okay for a writer not to be writing 24/7. Being a writer is part of your identity, but it doesn’t define you. It can’t define you.

5. Play to your own strengths

As you desperately try to jot down words onto paper, try those techniques that work for you and not just those that are popular on online platforms. For example, if you have a knack for writing romance, spend some time setting the scene for more romantic interactions between your characters. Techniques which encourage you to do more of what you do best can definitely be motivational, to say the least.

My point is to not waste time following anyone else’s advice that doesn’t work for you because people’s writing journeys are different. Although you might share the same passion for writing, you are still on a different path that you should embrace.

6. Putting everything into perspective 

Everything in life is shaped by our beliefs and experiences. Nothing is bad or good until we perceive it to be a certain way. While perception isn’t necessarily reality, it does represent the way that we writers interact with our reality. In that same sense, writer’s block isn’t bad until we perceive it to be that way. So, instead of freaking out about the pages you haven’t written, I suggest changing the way you think about the situation. Maybe you need time to refresh your creativity, or maybe your ideas aren’t structured enough. Putting things into perspective can be a helpful way to approach situations and solve certain problems rather than tear yourself apart.

7. Try new things for the first time

Life is all about experiences, and so is writing. All writers have personal experiences worthy to be written about. In a way, writer’s block may be an invitation to try things for the first time. And by “things,” I mean everything, from eating new food at different places to walking at night despite the freezing cold to calling that high school friend you haven’t talked to for months.

Breaking habits and building new ones are parts of living out experiences that are worth writing about and articulating in your own words.

——

One last note — inspiration is everywhere. So take the time to see it, perceive it, use it and maintain it well and alive in our hearts. It may not aid you whenever you need it, but it will always be there, and you will end up finding it no matter how long it takes and how many times you get sidetracked.

There is no rush in creating art. There is only the love that we carry for the meaning behind the words we carefully choose. Once you are inspired, make sure to pass the love around to other writers  so that we all stay inspired.

Gheed El Bizri ‘25 is a staff writer for The Grind. From Lebanon, she seeks to major in Psychology and minor in Human Rights and has a strong interest in creative writing and journalism. She hopes to use storytelling as a way of putting into words the most complex human emotions, staying connected to people all around the world and banding them together. She is also interested in representing her country, Lebanon, and amplifying the voice of her people through her work. Contact Gheed at thegrind 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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