Uranie and CalliopeWhere does inspiration occur? How does it find us? Where, and when, are we most likely to encounter it?

If there’s anything I’ve learned, the Muses are fickle creatures indeed. But instead of despairing, there are quite a few measures you can take to wiggle your way out of the dark crevices of writer’s block. At least, I’ve found some of these methods useful:

5.) Listen to the Music. This is #5, but it’s usually my first line of defense. As a musician myself, this specifically refers to the listening, and not the making aspect. I like to craft writing playlists, and these typically run toward the Classical side (I’m also horrendously addicted to WCPE). However, instrumental and operatic melodies aren’t always the best to jog the proverbial jammed gear of creativity. I like to try and delve through music I haven’t heard of in a while, like what I might have listened to in high school (lots of Beatles, Moxy Fruvous, and TMBG). Or, I can branch out into something completely new–after resisting for almost a decade, I ended up obsessed with Coldplay’s XY a few months ago.

4.) Get the heck outside. This may seem quite obvious, but one of the most sources of my writer’s block comes from the stasis achieved by staring at my Own Two Walls too long. Lack of sunlight (and consequent Vitamin D), exercise, and oxygen, are never a good combination. Hikes tend to work for me; if you’ve read a bit here at all, you’ll know I’m a bit of a tree fiend. I get rather giddy staring in to the limbs of trees, especially this time of year, and back-to-basics nature-gazing is always a good place to plant the seeds of a story (no pun intended).

3.) Try a graphic novel. While no means a comic book aficionado–I leave that distinction to my husband–I’ve been helped out of a sorry writer’s block mood more than once by a graphic novel or two. Neil Gaiman is always a good place to start, in my opinion, since his Sandman comics are such a sophisticated combination of mythology, legend, and pop culture. There’s something very stimulating about reading pictures and words simultaneously that can often jog the creative spaces left in the brain.

2.) Meditate. This doesn’t have to be a spiritual thing if you don’t want it to be, of course. I wouldn’t want to push religion on anyone. But the act of meditation, of emptying oneself, might seem a little counter intuitive at first. I mean, how can not thinking help you think? Strangely enough, it does, at least for me. Taking time to calm myself and to open my mind to the images and emotions necessary to write a novel is something that meditation often ushers in rather well. I’ve experienced some of the most vivid ideas after or during meditation (and yoga, too).

1.) Talk it out. Go back and read what you’ve written (if you’ve got anything) and do it aloud. Record it, if you can. Listen to the natural cadence of the language, to the sound of the sentences working together. But most importantly, try to listen to it freely–i.e. try to detach yourself from the telling. So many of us get uselessly wrapped up in our tales, and mistake the forest for the trees. A distance from that can let us experience the magic of narrative in a whole new way. Not to mention, it helps you get a better idea of your characters to hear them speak for once!

Hopefully these suggestions are helpful for you. Unfortunately, there’s no panacea for finding A Way Out. I know there are some things I have tried that typically end in lots of lost time (cruising Wikipedia, for example). Sometimes, you have to find your own way through…

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

— Truman Capote