Where do you get ideas for your writing? How do you stay creative? Where do you look for inspiration when you’re in a creative dry spell?

I find anything can be a source of creative inspiration if you stay open to the possibilities. I’ve gotten ideas from video games, movies, comments people have made, and dreams. But when the ideas aren’t pouring in, here are three ways to get the creative juices flowing.

Psylocke cosplay
Photograph by/of me
  1. Browse artwork online
    There is so much amazing artwork by talented individuals out there! What’s your genre? You want to write steampunk? Look up steampunk artwork and try to figure out what’s going on in a piece. Need a setting? Look up landscapes. Need a character? Type your genre and “character” into Pinterest and see what comes up! Not even sure what you’re looking for? Let DeviantArt or Pinterest pull you into the never-ending whirlpool of the Internet until you’re drowning in inspiration. Imagination often ignites more imagination, so let others inspire you!
    I actually keep inspiration boards on my Pinterest. Character costume inspiration, weapon inspiration, setting/location inspiration, building inspiration… And then if I’m at a loss, I’ll go look at those boards. Sometimes I’ll go looking for something specific—“what might this character dress like?” or “what would this character’s home look like?” Other times I’ll go in without any idea of what I’m looking for, and work backwards—“what kind of character might use that weapon?” or “Why might my characters find themselves in this scene?”
  2. Listen to music
    My go-to focus music when writing is epic instrumental. I love film and video game soundtracks, especially when writing an intense scene or a fight. I can’t concentrate with lyrics while writing, and I also avoid super recognizable soundtracks (if I start picturing the film scene in my head while writing, everything falls apart for me). Plus, throwing on a pair of headphones and cranking epic instrumental music helps drown out the distractions. Here’s some of my favorite Youtube mixes from Pandora Journey for getting in the zone (note: I put these on the background, so I have no idea if all the featured artwork is appropriate):

But when not actively writing, music with lyrics can be awesome for getting ideas. Think about a song you like. Could it apply to one of your characters? Does it spark a plot idea? Why might a character like or dislike that song?

Painting of Thor by me

3. Take a break!
Sometimes the only way to cope with a dry spell is to stop trying to pump from an empty well. Let it fill up again! Do something else you enjoy. Go watch that movie, regardless of what critics say. Go read that book you keep meaning to get to. Binge that TV show. Try a new hobby or pick up an old one. Knit that scarf. Dance in your room while singing into a hairbrush. Make that bracelet. Paint that picture even if you have no idea what you’re doing. Go for a long walk or take a drive out into the country. Tell yourself not to focus on your creative slump. Let yourself think about anything and everything else. Procrastinate a little—or even a lot. Sometimes your brain just needs a break. Don’t feel guilty about doing things you want to do just because it’s not what you think you need to do right this minute. Your story will be waiting when you come back energized from your break.

How about you?
What are your tried-and-true methods to stay creative and keep inspiration coming? Let’s chat!

Selina R. Gonzalez

Selina R. Gonzalez is an author of medieval-inspired fantasy. Her romantic fantasy duology, The Mercenary and the Mage series, is available now.


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