Kim Montgomery

Written by

Kim Montgomery

16 October 2019


The Novlr Guide to Finding Writing Inspiration

NaNoWriMo is almost upon us. The prospect of 50,000 words is looming, and if you’re anything like me, you may be currently caught in the midst of a wild panic. Yes, I’m going to write, but…what am I going to write about? I need some writing inspiration!

Don’t worry!

First things first, calm down. Go get a cup of tea and a nice biscuit. (I’m a fan of a custard cream myself, but punt for your biscuit of choice.) 

Got one?

Awesome. Now that you’re comfortable, here’s a list of activities that we at Novlr HQ all agreed ignite our inspiration – hopefully they can help you come up with that killer idea.

Tips for finding writing inspiration

Inspiration tip #1 – Read

I know, I know. You’ve heard it a dozen times, but I’m going to say it again. To be a writer, you have to be a reader. Now, obviously, I don’t endorse plagiarism which is both a crime and also a really dumb thing to do (do not plagiarise, PLEASE). However, writers can draw inspiration from another writer’s work. You might like a small-town suburban setting used in one work, but wonder – hey what if a small town was infiltrated by a colony of flesh-eating goblins that had been living in the public library for 250 years? Reading helps spark ideas and possibilities that you might not have otherwise considered.

Inspiration tip #2 – People watch

Looking out a window and watching the people walk by or sitting on a bench in a local park and observing strangers may seem an odd, pretentious writer-ey activity straight out of the movies. However, noticing people and all their quirks can help create a bank of characters and potential backstories. For example, that guy on your university campus that always wears a top hat – what’s his tale? Maybe he’s an aristocrat that’s applied to university to assimilate into society, but he’s not quite there yet. Perhaps he’s a Victorian time-traveller? What would he be like, what kind of name would fit him? These characters and their respective stories are at your disposal.

Inspiration Tip #3 – Listen to music

Music can be pretty powerful stuff. Simply listening to a singer or an instrumental track can evoke a mood/emotion within you and spark your imagination. Here’s a little writing exercise for you based on this. 

I’ve listed ten different songs for you. Listen to three of them, one at a time with a break in-between each. Free write for each one as you go. I want you to think about how they make you feel, what emotions do they stir up? Can you envision any settings, locations, situations? Does the piece make you think of a colour? 

  1. All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
  2. True Colours – Eva Cassidy
  3. Become the Beast – Karlene
  4. If I Had You – Benny Goodman
  5. Washington Square – The Correspondents
  6. Creep – Radiohead
  7. The Oak and the Ivy – Bella Hardy
  8. I Want You to Want Me – Cheap Trick
  9. The Call – Regina Spektor 
  10. Heart of Glass – Blondie

Inspiration tip #4 – Write, gosh-darn-it

Even if you’re writing a shopping list or terribly articulated paragraph of pent-up angst, the best way to garner inspiration is to write. It gets everything out of your head, the threads of ideas that don’t quite tie up, the miscellaneous junk that’s flip-flopping around the brain – a 73-year-old serial killer that shanks her victims with knitting needles? Tim Clare’s writing course on Novlr (couch to 80k) is a fantastic way to get that inspiration going. Each episode is only ten-minutes long and that includes silent writing time on the track – it forces you to think of ideas, solutions, characters, plot and description. 

What better way to inspire yourself to write than… to write?

If you have any great tips for inspiration or music that you like to write to, please tweet them to us at @novlrtweets or comment down below.