5 Things that keep your Writing Inspiration Strong

There are so many things on my idea board at any given time. (Now that sounds amazing! No writer’s block ever!) And yet some ideas and impressions slip away, if I don’t act on them soon enough. At the time the creative spark comes to me, it feels like the next best thing to hit the literary world but some time later, the spark turns to ideas that look like hollow shells, with nothing that can fill them up and out.

If that sounds familiar, here are a few things you could do to keep the inspiration to write healthy and strong.

1. Reinforce your mood

A single piece of writing can have a particular mood. A research based article would have you in a rational frame of mind while poetry might see you whimsical and emotional.

If you are writing a hilarious piece, keep the hilarity alive in your mood, otherwise you would lose your tone.

Recently, a friend writing a story about infidelity listened to music that had a theme of being unfaithful. It was to hang on to the feeling, till the time it was spent in words.

Evoking that mood through another media fires up your brain neurons and soon new insights come running in.

2. Connect to your deeper self

Your idea came from the depths of your feelings and your soul. Now go nourish that part of yourself so that you can strengthen it and make it yours and write it. Do things that ground you.

Know what keeps you grounded. It could be surrounded by the people you love or being alone in nature. You have to find what keeps your innermost self vibrant and receptive.

3. Rekindle the feeling

Why are you writing in the first place? Are there any quotes that inspire you? Or a location? That log cabin in the hills? A piece of music or painting that reeks of creativity and the joys of right expression? Connect with them. Immerse yourself in them so that you can find the validation of writing once again.

4. Tap your subconscious

Occupy one part of your brain so that the other part can create. The perfect ways to do it would be to go on a walk or listen to music. Gardening or knitting are other ways that keep the hands occupied and the mind free to muse on other things. Doing something routine and repetitive is known to soothe the nerves and to aid in problem solving or bringing up new ideas.

5. Reshape your muse into other forms

If you have a wonderful theme that you want to explore in your writing but are unable to express it fully, try another form of expression. Move from poetry to prose. Sketch your idea. Paint it. Scult it or maybe just use play dough. Compose a song. You would find newer ways of bringing forth your idea with plenty of insights into the nature of creativity.

To keep inspiration close to you, it is important to be in the right state of mind. The ideas are always there. Half formed. Half baked. Waiting to be picked and polished.

What are the ways you keep your ideas strong and kicking?

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5 Motivating Thoughts on Writing by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is a San Francisco writer, historian, and activist. She is the author of twenty books about geography, community, art, politics, hope, and feminism.

Rebecca Solnit says it about writing and does not mince words. Here are a few of her inspiring thoughts on what writing is and how we can write better and from the soul.

1. Write

Rebecca Solnit exhorts you to write. Quite a lot. Because it is practice and effort that leads to bad writing becoming good.

“Write what you most passionately want to write.”

“Write bad stuff because the road to good writing is made out of words and not all of them are well-arranged words.”

2. Typing it out is just a part of the writing process. Often, you think that you need to have a daily word goal. Or a weekly. You forget that writing is not just churning out words. There is a lot that goes into the strengthening of the writing muscle.

“Thinking, researching, contemplating, outlining, composing in your head and in sketches, maybe some typing, with revisions as you go, and then more revisions, deletions, emendations, additions, reflections, setting aside and returning afresh…”

3. Read aplenty, but don’t be influenced by trends. Read a lot to shape your voice and to find your influences. But, be yourself. There is no use going after what is trending and what others are writing, if it does not speak to you deeply.

“Find your own influences… Originality is partly a matter of having your own influences: read evolutionary biology textbooks or the Old Testament, find your metaphors where no one’s looking, don’t belong.”

To not belong is relieving.

4. Listen to others but know when to listen to your soul. You may have to ask for feedback on your writing. Listen to improve and to find new insights. But above all, know yourself and listen to your inner voice.

“Listen to what makes your hair stand on end, your heart melt, and your eyes go wide, what stops you in your tracks and makes you want to live, wherever it comes from, and hope that your writing can do all those things for other people.”

5. Passion and dedication endure, mere talent might not. Unless you live passionately and feel deeply and know that following your joy means obstacles and time, your talent won’t be enough.

“It starts with passion even before it starts with words.”

Dear reader, share the quotes that you find inspiring.

8 Things I Discovered in 8 months of writing listicles

So the year was drawing to a close and the new one was dawning and all I wanted to do was to bring a Big change in my life without it sounding like a Resolution list, because, you know, only 6% of people are able to keep their resolutions by month 4 ( I seriously don’t know what happens when that year draws to a close).

Apart from the usuals of exercising more and eating healthier and going ballistic in my career and earning potential and being kind-more to myself, I also wanted to write more. And I knew that the first few months of the year were going to be busy. So I started a list of blog ideas which brought up my dormant desire of writing list based articles. I pledged to do just that and started with Friday Listicles. It meant that I had decided to do atleast one post per week till the time I could pick up the pieces of my life and write more meaningful stuff.

I have been posting a listicle every Friday, barring one, of this year. And that one Friday when I did not post was the one week my readers heaved a sigh of relief for being spared the torture.

I started off the listicle series by talking of what they are, how I love them and how they are hated by many. After a few months of writing them, I found out that…

1. You can get lazy when you write Listicles. After all, most of the structuring has been done for you. You only need to think of a title and like a magician be able to procure points upon points related to the topic. You could do a 23 point list, with nothing to show for the points and you could do a Top 3 list, where the content takes precedence over the number.

Some weeks I was lazy, admittedly and other weeks I wrote well-thought out lists with pertinent points. The choice is yours. You can let the list get you lazy or you can focus better on the content because you don’t need to take care of the structure.

2. The endings of the lists are important too. Most often I would list out the few points of whatever I was talking about and just close the post at the last point. Through some feedback and through some intelligent reading of my own posts, I realised that the listicles needed an ending as much as a long form article does. Wrapping it up well in the end is good for the reader and good for the one writing it.

3. Listicles really are quick. Quick to peruse and quick to write. Did I really want my readers to glance and skim and leave? The better way was to keep the subheads introductory and yet not revealing everything. Through building a little intrigue I was able to hold interest (hopefully) and found that people did read the Listicles to the end.

4. But no, lists and by extension, Listicles are not dumb. I covered a little of it in point 1 and really one of the cardinal roles in writing a listicle is to not repeat yourself but I had to put it clearer. It is up to the writer to write meaningful, engaging, well researched content and elevate the form.

5. The number in the listicle heading counts. Yes, it counts because it is a number but saying ‘A few things that I found while travelling by train’ does not sound as enticing as ‘ 7 surprising things that you wish you knew about travelling in a train’. A good title counts and brings in more readers. It is not because of the number but the fact that the writer has chosen to show the unique viewpoint in the title itself.

6. Are odd numbers in the titles better than even? Frankly, I don’t know. Apparently, internet proclaims that an odd number in the title brings in more attention but to my mind it could be the equivalent of clickbait. So, let the content speak for itself rather than resorting to little gimmicks.

7. It is possible to show who you are through your listicle too. Often, it is complained that we cannot get the writer’s voice in the list but I have found that it is possible to set the tone in your listicle. It is possible to have a witty twist or a serious discussion , not at the same time of course and give the reader a glimpse of the person behind the listicle. The choice of the topic itself is a guess enough.

8. Writing a listicle need not be a sloppy job. It is not a list created out of random facts. The only lazy thing that you can allow a listicle to do is to create a structure for your article. You can write well, hold forth on anything with authority if you have researched the subject and write the in-depth articles and the high brow topics that you want to write.

A listicle need not be the bubble wrap of modern living; it could be the cushion that leads you to difficult topics gently.

This listicle is part of Friday Listicles, a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend.

10 Quotes on Writing and why I find them Inspiring

When I have a few bad writing days at a stretch, I look over at some quotes that inspire me to write again. They remind me of the magic of words and the rhythm of a narrative. The quotes bring me back to that part in me that feels most alive when I write.

1. “And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.”

J. K. Rowling

This for the sheer love for the act itself. Just the feel of being with a notebook and writing for only the sake of it. Creating only for the pleasure of it.

2. “For writing means revealing one self to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind…That is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around one when one writes, why even night is not night enough.”

Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

This speaks to me so eloquently. When in solitude, I find that wringing out one’s soul needs an even deeper state of aloneness.

3. “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Anton Chekhov

A classic case of show, don’t tell. Chekhov just told us how to do that and there is an immense delicacy in the act of showing.

4. “Always be a poet, even in prose.”

Charles Baudelaire

I always look for a cadence and a rhythm in prose. Not for me the mere arc of a story; a slice of life, beautifully expressed is enough.

5. “Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.”

Meg Rosoff

When I write, I am mostly concerned with shaping a good sentence, a perfectly framed paragraph and a cogent narrative. And yet, I can recognise a unique voice and it is a priceless gift.

6. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Ernest Hemingway

I have mused over this quote a hundred times and always come away nodding. Isn’t it the beauty of writing that it lets you bare your soul?

7. “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

Ray Bradbury

Plenty of writers hear that accusation from others, of being drunk on words, on writing. And of being absorbed in make believe worlds. How can we tell them how euphoric it is?

8. “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.”

Truman Capote

Yes. The inner music. The rhythm that we write to. The cadence that lends itself to our words.

9. “Writing is a very focused form of meditation. Just as good as sitting in a lotus position.”

Alan Moore

Writing as meditation rejuvenates you. It brings you back from the lifeless into the vibrancy of being.

10.” great writers are indecent people

they live unfairly

saving the best part for paper.

good human beings save the world

so that bastards like me can keep creating art,

become immortal.

if you read this after I am dead

it means I made it.”

Charles Bukowski, The People Look Like Flowers at Last

How can this list of quotes not feature Bukowski who sometimes mocks life itself and who remains a brutal realist long after his life ended.

Do any of these quotes speak to you? Please share the quotes that you feel inspired by.

7 Things to do that your Tomorrow will Thank you for

1. Manage your time well…for time is the essence lives are made of. Be sure about the things you want to spend your time on; once it slips away, there is no going back to retrieve it.

2. Think long term goals…because long term and tomorrows are what you are driving yourself to. Don’t sacrifice the future for instant gratification. Have a roadmap and keep coming back to it to see whether you are on track.

3. Say thanks, express gratitude…for the tomorrow stands on the foundation of a healthy, happy and confident today. Counting your blessings makes you see the wonderful life you have had and that you can continue to have. 

4. Cherish the ephemeral…because it would not last and because it is the nature of creation to bring forth beauty into lives, no matter how short. So, hold it and live it for the experience and the memories.

5. Connect…with the people who matter, because ‘no man is an island, complete in himself’. Reach out, be vulnerable and nurture the affinity you have with others.

6. Find out what makes you happy…and pursue it wholeheartedly so that you do not have to look back one day and regret the things you let go. Make yourself happy and stay happy. Remember that going after what you want is as satisfying as actually achieving the goal.

7. Resolve your problems using your subconscious…for the subconscious mind holds the solution to your problems. You know so much if only you ask your own self. Pose yourself questions and get down to deconstruct the fears that are holding you back.

What would you like to do to pave the way for a better tomorrow?

5 Ways to Find Your Authentic Voice

We all wish to write well. We wish to engage our readers, to influence them and inspire them as well. Through our writing we want to be heard and to connect.
And yet, sometimes we are unable to express ourselves from the core of our being. We may be writing right or writing well but we miss having a genuine engagement with our readers.

Here are a few ways to write in our unique, authentic voices.

1. Add another layer to your subject matter

Whether you are writing of food or of life choices, add a theme or an underlying motif to your writing. You may speak of your life, or your environment, your city or your culture. Any influences that have shaped you and made you what you are today are likely to resonate with your readers because this is what you know and are passionate about. 

2. Be rather than do

This may sound cryptic but when you focus too much on doing, on chasing goals, on planning or executing you lose touch with your innermost core. We are so caught up in rushing and meeting deadlines that we don’t have the time to relax into our being. We react rather than being proactive.

So, take the time to ‘be’, to nurture your self to come back to writing as the unique person that you are.

3. Loosen your emotions

There are so many emotions that we would rather not experience. Pain, anger, resentment, jealousy…we push them to the back of our conscious minds. The emotions fester and bring an unease that we carry with us. Confronting or even simply accepting these negative thoughts and feelings is the first step towards healing. The acceptance of our flawed selves opens us to the beauty we have in the people around us. 

4. Stay honest

At least to yourself. Be brutally honest about your aspirations, expectations and your values. Search within and know your code of ethics. Recognise your strengths and recognise the areas you wish you could improve. 

Authentic writing is more an expression of your true self than anything else. When you know clearly who you are and what moves your soul, you can go after those things in your life and in your writings. You can bring your unique perspective to the writing.

5. Follow it through

Know that creativity makes you express yourself and know that you are doing yourself a favour by following through what you do well. Keep at it and try to drown the noise of criticism…inner, more than anyone else’s.

How to get back to your Creative Endeavours in just 6 days

I write and sometimes I sketch. I know people who scult or photograph or make movies. Ok, the last one is not true; if I knew people who made movies I would have inveigled myself a minor role in a street scene.

But the point I am trying to make is that all us creative types hit blocks ever so often. My personal period of lethargy, ennui and couldn’t-care-less attitude, coupled with mindless snacking and binge watching TV comes around sometimes and there is a real effort involved in getting back to being creative and productive.

My personal quest lasts nearly 6 days. Your’s might be shorter or longer but here is how it typically goes.


Day 1
: Start the day with a renewed vigour and a strong resolution to finally get back to doing what I am mediocre at but want to get best at. Writing!

So, with everything done for the morning, I take out my notebook and the pencils and the highlighter pens. There are post-it notes spread around strategically on the writing table. I like the notebook over the electronic writing because I often visualise the untidy and cluttered desks of geniuses.
It takes nearly an hour to get things looking right, after which I start the process of penning down the masterpiece that I was born to write.

Except that…nothing. Nothing comes to mind and nothing looks good when put down on paper. Words look unfamiliar and sentences look disjointed. After long minutes or hours of doodling and day dreaming I decide to call it a day. At least, I have made a beginning.


Day 2
: Today is the day I feel I would be better in charge. So, the table laying is quicker for I have done it just the day before. I am optimistic and cheerfully put pen to paper. The outpouring seems more natural and I seem to be writing faster when the phone rings.

I have a long heart to heart with a friend and before I know it, the writing time has slithered away like a snake while I was whittling away time. I might be mixing the metaphors but atleast the metaphors are coming. A little progress, it seems.

There is now only very little time left and I decide to do a quick search on the internet for writing prompts and inspiration. A couple of hours later, I get dressed to get to the local supermarket to get the plastic spoons for making the DIY chandelier that I chanced upon Pinterest. Am I repeating words and thoughts today? Could be, but atleast the thoughts are flowing. Besides, getting involved in a craft and decorating activity would help me snap out of the ennui.


Day 3
: It seems I got out of the bed from the wrong side. I feel lethargic and groggy, not unlike the lethargy of a non creative soul. I make myself a huge cup of coffee and settle down with some easy reading. Reading is supposed to kick-start the brain, just as caffeine kickstarts the body. I get engrossed in the book, the double dose seems to be working. But, the easy romance read gets me down the black hole of speed reading and skimming without giving me the feel of the language or the plot or the pace.

Reading this way feels like a high calorie snack without the nutrients of a wholesome meal.

The inspired writing time dissolves into insipid reading time. Nothing fires up my imagination and there is nothing profound that I can write.


Day 4
: I dread my writing time. After three unsuccessful days, I am sure deep down in my mind that this is going to be another disaster.

My subconscious conjures up a list of ‘urgent’ tasks and I go out shopping in a frenzy. The shopping trolley looks like I am stocking for an upcoming party or in anticipation of shortages or a natural disaster.

The putting away of the stuff takes up the rest of the day and I feel productive. If not in writing, then in other areas of life. However, a discomfort gnaws at me and through the non talking, non reading and repetitive chores, I find myself answering to a little voice, soft and gentle, questioning me on my priorities and reminding me of my dreams.

The voice gets stronger and I realise that the reason I don’t feel alive and happy is because I am not doing what I love to do. The feeling stays and it seems that the next day would have a different flavour.


Day 5
: My lucky day! Or so it seems. The fifth try of anything seems lucky to me and I usually crack the code at this time. I chuck the writing paraphernalia and start writing out lists. Then I jot down a couple of rhyming lines. I write the description of a picture I have taken the day before; of setting sun and palm fronds. I feel the words building up. I describe how I liked last week’s restaurant hunt and the ensuing delicious finds at an unlikely place. I write a letter to a friend I talk to regularly but I write the things that I gloss over in our conversations. I ask her and I tell her the things that are inconvenient and embarassing. I pour out my words with compassion and a genuine love.
Feeling those emotions opens up the floodgates inside me and I find so many things that I want to say and share through my writing.


Day 6
: I wait for the writing time impatiently and when there is no other sound except those of the birds and the raindrops falling on the tin roofs, I can write and express myself the way I have wanted to and dreamt of.

The pursuit of a creative endeavour brings happiness and contentment.

Please share how you get around your writing block and what does the process look like?