Finding Inspiration – Tips for Beating a Case of Writer’s Cramp

One thing we all go through, no matter what it is we do for a living, is fight for inspiration.  For writers especially this can be a problem; call it writer’s cramp or the writer’s cramp, but whatever we call it we face it.  We can sit down, our minds filled with words and ideas, but when the fingers touch the keys the words just don’t seem to translate our sentiments.  Another common plague is that we can often become bored with our own words, our own writing styles, and our own approaches.  The beauty of literature is the variety, no two authors have the same writing style; we are like fingerprints, unique and nearly impossible to replicate.   The problem is the fact that when you write your own words, you can easily find yourself bored of your own work.  But we can actually use these moments of complacency to inspire ourselves, because in these moments we have the opportunity to grow and expand our skill set.  Everyone has their own techniques to breaking writer’s cramp, but these are my techniques to getting out of the writer’s cramp.

Go back to your roots:   Handwrite

Personally, one of the best ways to get myself out of my rut is to go to my roots and handwrite articles.  When I started writing I did 100% of it on paper.  I never had a laptop, and to be quite honest, I didn’t want people to see what I was writing on the computer.  My writing used to be a very personal thing that I shared with absolutely no one.  I used to have binders of written articles, poetry, and other things stashed away in my room like a teenager’s playboy magazines.  Try this simple trick and I think you’ll find that putting pen to paper gives you a more creative feel.  Maybe because it’s my handwriting that I seeing, but something about it makes it feel more personal.

Look at pictures

 

When writing about travel sometimes we do so days or weeks after going to a location, and it’s hard to hold onto the feeling of a location.  What I end up doing sometimes is go through old pictures and basically dump my brain speaking out loud.  I will look at a picture and go over the following: 1) It looks like… 2) It smells like… 3) It tastes like… 4) It feels like… Look at each detail of the picture and describe it.  Generally, after saying those things out loud, even if you can’t come up with a sense for everything, you’ll have a paragraph to write for each picture.  Take your 4 or 5 favourite pictures from the place you are writing about and do this, I guarantee your work will improve and be more creative.

Use a tape recorder

Sometimes we have all these great thoughts and quotes bundled up in our heads but when we hit the keys the thoughts don’t come out fast enough, or the right way.  One simple trick is to turn on a tape recorder and just dump all your thoughts out.  At first it might seem strange, but in the end you’ll find that you can think out load a lot faster than you can type, and you’ll have no problem getting all your thoughts out.

Read

It seems backwards to read when you are trying to write, but it seems to do the trick for me a lot of times.  Also, try to read an author that you’ve never read before.  Each author has a different writing style and although your goal should not be to copy their style you may be able to take some of their creativity and put it to use in your own style.  I have in the past also read in French, Spanish and Portuguese as a means of expanding my creativity.  Usually by the time I have read even a little bit I am full of ideas.  As you read, keep a notepad at your side in case any great ideas come to mind as you are reading.

I am very guilty of using the same descriptive adjectives far too often in my writing, and although most wouldn’t notice this, I do, and it drives me crazy.  As such, every now and then I will mark down words that I want to work into articles in the future.  The simple challenge of trying to work these words into your articles will spark your creativity.  Also, don’t be afraid to use the synonyms button on Microsoft Word, it is not cheating, it is helping.

Always keep a notepad with you

I think that this is the biggest mistake that most writers make, is that they don’t carry anything to write on.  You should get into the habit of carrying a tiny notepad in your pocket with a pen in case any great ideas, or quotes, come to mind.  How many times have you thought of something at random and thought “oh, that’s a great line” only to forget it or twist it later on?  I have some of my best thoughts in the most random places, and carrying a pen and pad in my pocket allows me the ability to jot down my thoughts wherever I may be and work them into articles later on.   You can also pack a tape recorder if you like, but be prepared for strange looks when you begin talking into it on the Metro.

Do you have secrets for getting rid of writer’s cramp ?  Share them in the comment box below.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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15 Comments

  1. Nicely said, or rather written, Brendan. Reading always gets me motivated, sometimes even just looking at the books on my shelf creates a spark!

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  2. And when traveling, I come to rely on my Moleskine notebook that ALWAYS lives in the right cargo pocket of my travel pants along with a waterproof ink pen. Just knowing it’s in there and having it handy makes it much easier to jot ideas down for later.

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    • yup, that’s the best.. . i never leave home without mine

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  3. Good tips on combating the dreaded writer’s bloc. I especially like the first one. I hand write articles when I camping sometimes and those have been some of my favorite posts. I never tried using it as a tool to try and break out of a rut though.

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  4. When I’m stuck in a writing rut, I find a good long walk to be a tremendous help. All kinds of ideas flow around my head, and I’ve usually got a couple of posts written in my head by the time I get back :)

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  5. These are great tips. I also find that looking at old pictures can inspire me to write. Also, if I write with a notepad, rather than a computer that is connected to the internet, I find that I have less distractions. ;)

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  6. Nice post and suggestions. My wife does most of our writing as I focus on the photography, but these are all ideas which I know can help her when stuck. She does keep a notepad on her nightstand as her best stuff usually comes to her in the middle of the night. Countless times I have woken up and found her frantically writing. And the other day she did some handwriting versus hopping on the Mac and the ideas just seemed to keep flowing (although she complained her hand got sore, lol)

    One thing that was not on your list that she does to *break the rut* is to put it down and step away for a bit. When she can turn off the brain for a few hours, let herself come into balance, it seems like it all comes to her later. Cheers!

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    • Ya, I have the same problem when I hand write, it gets sore. Stepping away is key, you are right Peter!

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  7. I like to go for a drive. I always have these great ideas when I go for a drive…except I never have paper so I need to remember to bring that haha. My thoughts just seem to flow better when I’m staring at a sunset over the ocean as I drive over a bridge…wonder why hah.
    Good music + windows down + warm weather + hear blowing in the wind + notebook and a red light to write thoughts down in = inspiration for writing :)

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  8. this is a test of the disqus system

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  9. Keeping a notepad is always a good idea. Whenever I don’t have a notepad with me, is when I get some sort of writing inspiration. Then I’m trying to write little notes on napkins, or on my hand… not as cool.

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  10. I’m going through a massive lack of inspiration right now! I haven’t written anything new on my blog in ages (I think it’s because I’m not travelling at the moment – but I can’t even be bothered thinking back to previous trips) so thanks for the tips – I’ll have to try them out.

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    • Sometimes the best thing to do is to write about how uninspired you are!

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  11. Awesome advice! Too many times I’ve come to write something but not been able to get the words out!

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  12. I have often found pen and paper helps me the most! Sometimes walking away from my desk, taking a walk, really is the most influencial in getting me out of a writing rut! Sometimes you just have to put it down for a while! This last week I had a hard deadline at work, and try as I might, I couldn’t even get started. Had to just walk away. Came back to it a couple hours later – spilled a few thoughts into a list, and before you knew it – I had a successful piece for the next day’s meeting! It was a hit!
    If all else fails, a glass of wine and a quick chat with a friend also helps!!! Guess it comes back to getting away from it for a quick spell!
    Great advice – love the tape recorder tip – have been know to email myself if I am away from my desk – but the tape recorder is a great idea.

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