When I joined the Creative Superheroes group on Facebook, I thought that it would be a nice place for ideas and maybe a few tips on blogging. What I didn’t know was that it would be a FUN place to hang out, reading advice, discovering beautiful blogs and interesting people, all with Allison’s quirky and fun way! So I jumped at the opportunity to feature one of the most interesting and inspiring bloggers and her advice for Finding (and keeping) Inspiration!
Please welcome Ariel and read more about her and her blog at the end of the post!!!
A guest post by Ariel from One Little Library
We often hear that inspiration strikes at random. It seems like something out of our control, that we can only hope for when all of the stars align. But it’s just not true.
Finding inspiration isn’t actually hard; creating is the hard part. The word “inspiration” originally came from the Latin word for breath: to breathe, to inhale. Think of inspiration as something you need to regularly take in. And what you take in will help you create.
If what you’re creating is writing and information, then what you need to take in is learning. Here are five things you can do to practice taking in inspiration:
- Get curious
Ask questions. Don’t accept information at face value. Ask Google. Click on that link. Follow rabbit trails to see what’s there. For example, as I was writing the intro to this post, I started to run into a mental block—which is ironic, I know. I decided to look up the etymology of “inspiration,” which is how I found out it comes from the word for breath. That definition “clicked” and helped me say something I wasn’t sure how to say before.
2. Find the gap
In my job as an acquisitions editor, I read proposals all the time. And I’m always surprised by the sheer number of ideas people have—even within a very specific genre or topic. There are infinite ways to spin something: to take a different angle, or to say it in a fresh way. I’ve learned that great writers are able to pinpoint a gap in the existing knowledge base.
3. Read, read, read
To find the gap in the knowledge base, you have to know the knowledge base. You have to know what others are writing about. They’re both your competition and your inspiration. What can you provide that is different/better? Plus, knowing what your readers know allows you to provide them with information that is more relevant and timely.
4. Start a conversation
I often find inspiration when I listen to the questions people are asking. And they are asking! Start a conversation about whatever your topic is, and put yourself out there as an expert—even if you’re not sure you have all of the answers. At the least, what you’ll get is a new idea to research and explore so that next time you might have the answer.
5. Look at titles
Often when I’m trying to figure out what to write, I look at just the title of another blog post or a book that strikes my fancy. If I was the author of that blog post, what would I say? To some, this might sound like stealing. In his book, Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon argued that “stealing” is actually an act of collaboration, building on someone else’s work to remix it and make it your own. More often than not, I start writing and I find that my blog post is very different from the original one.
A Note on Keeping Inspiration
It’s great when we start exploring and find a good idea, but how do you hold onto it? I like to stock up on ideas and revisit my lists whenever I’m looking for something to write about. Here are some of my favorite ways to hold onto inspiration.
Keep a small notebook on you at all times. I use the adorable notebooks from Obvious State. They fit perfectly inside the clutch wallet I use, so no matter where I’m going, I always have something to write on. Don’t forget a pen, too! But if you forget, pens are usually easier to come by than paper.
Use Google docs. Google docs are available anytime and anywhere, from any device. When I have an idea for a blog post, I often open a new Google doc, give it a short tentative title (I’ll revisit the title later when I have time to start writing), and write just a few words to remind me later of where I was going with that idea. In my Google Drive, I have TONS of mostly empty Word docs—all ideas for blog posts that I’m holding onto and can revisit whenever I like. I also have a Google doc list of blog post ideas—basically the digital version of my little notebook.
Don’t wait around for inspiration to strike. Find it, claim it, and take it in. And if you have any additional tips for finding and keeping inspiration, let us know in the comments!
Ariel is a writer, blogger, editor, almost vegetarian California girl. During the day she is an Acquisitions Editor for an education publisher. When not working, you can usually find Ariel doing yoga at the beach, reading with a glass of wine, or writing a book review on her blog, One Little Library
Thank you, Ariel for the brilliant (and usable) advice on finding inspiration! I’ll definitely use some of your tips 🙂