Saturday, September 17, 2011

Creative Pursuits to Stimulate the Muse

Some writers have no problem coming up with new ideas, and may have so many they could never write them all. Other writers might stare at a blank screen for hours hoping for genius to strike but the muse just doesn't want to cooperate.

In either case, a mindset of creativity can often lead to inspiration. After all, if like begets like in life, maybe creativity begets creativity... whether it's directly related to our writing or not.

Creative Pursuits to Stimulate the Muse

1. Music-
  • listen to music outside of your normal genres; it could inspire new ideas
  • pay attention to the lyrics and think of a story the song could be telling
  • sing out loud, make up songs, or try playing an instrument
  • compile a playlist of music that goes well with your WIP or that inspire your writing in general
2. Art-
  • search the internet for great works of art to ponder
  • create your own art: pencil sketches, clay, painting, graphic design or chalk on your back patio-- the point is artistic creation
  • find artwork that seems to fit your characters and what they would draw or hang on their walls
  • design your WIP's cover art, or create visual interpretations of scenes from your story
3. Writing- ...not in your WIP and without an audience in mind, but writing for its own sake:
  • flash fiction (either using a writing prompt or just with whatever comes to mind)
  • characterization pieces that won't go into your WIP, but will help you get to know your character, either as backstory or reactive writing (what would your character do if she saw someone drowning? How would your character react to being pulled over? How about if someone asked to copy his homework or do something illegal at his or her job?)
  • descriptive writing for the sake of the art of writing, and that won't go in any WIP you're working on; a paragraph about clouds or honeybees or pebbles on the beach-- the freedom of writing something no one will see can often lead to work you're proud enough to show off.
4. Poetry-
  • read poetry from classics or contemporary poets. It's actually quite beautiful
  • try writing poetry, even if no one will see it
  • try different styles of poetry. Poetry can be fiction (a poem about a kitten alone in the woods, a poem about a girl lost at sea, a poem about a boy on his first day of school) or non-fiction (nature poems, or poems about something you've experienced personally); it can rhyme or not; it can have rules about syllables, cadence and iambic pentameter or not; it can be stark, descriptive, flowery, emotional-- basically it can be anything.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Indulging in our own moments of creativity outside of our WIP might help us tap into new thoughts and ideas, so share some creative pursuits of your own. Is there anything you do to foster the creative process?

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Diana Paz is a web content writer and aspiring YA author. She was born in Costa Rica, grew up on Miami Beach, moved to Los Angeles in high school, and went to college in San Diego. Basically, she's a beach bum, but she did graduate from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts. She loves old movies, epic fantasy, all kinds of music, and heading to the beach with a good book. Preferably sipping a caramel frappuccino. Find her at her or on Twitter @dianapazwrites


  1. These are really good tips! I love music, and I love art, and I find that I'm inspired by both of them, especially finding new genres and types of art. :)

  2. Thanks Amber! Art and music can inspire so much creativity, and it translates through our fiction in ways we might not even realize. :)

  3. These are very well selected and hopefully every writer, nay, every human being has incorporated it into their lifestyle.
    But I do Have some personal addendums I'd like to add that help me make it up the mountain top.

    1. Get into arguments with someone you know wont take it personal. Mom, friend, guy from new york, etc.

    2. Stand at the roof of a skyscraper and look down, wondering of the possibilities that'd ensue with one more step taken.

    3.Set up a townhall meeting.

    When my spirits are low, and ink dry, one of these three options taken causes my writer's gunkage to clear away.

  4. Great post and tips!!

    Music is probably my most used medium for inspiration and if nothing else it just puts me in the proper mood and mindset. Also, being exposed to music so frequently, you never know when a melody or lyric will trigger an idea or scene.

    I haven’t really thought of searching art for inspiration. I have been inspired by art, but haven’t searched it out – I will have to try this. Creating my own art? Somehow I don’t think stick figures would stimulate my creative processes. :P

    I struggle with writing poetry, but have written a few pieces that have easily come forth and I find it if strikes you, write it down! And, like you said, even if no one else reads it.

    Just writing…yes, yes and yes. My blog (which really isn’t a blog) is comprised mainly of little pieces that I had to jot down. These are usually written in 15-20 minutes time while on a lunch break – they are raw and unedited. Most won’t make it into my WIP and for me, it really helps with character development.

    Something I recently started to do is creating a diary for my characters. When an idea presents itself, I jot it down as a diary entry – this happened today, this is where they were, how they felt, how they reacted or this is something they want to do or where they want to go.

    Anyway, glad I stumbled across your blog!!

  5. MyTricksterGod- Those are amazing suggestions. I really like the one about standing on the top of a skyscraper. Certainly it would get my heart pumping, and in addition, remind me of how small I really am in this world. Thanks!

    Follow the Den- I'm in complete and total agreement, and I'm glad you found my post helpful. Your idea of keeping a diary for your characters is great! I'd never thought of this but it sounds like an excellent way to get deep insight into the characters we create. Thanks!