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Battle Writer’s Block: Keeping an Inspiration Notebook

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You never know when inspiration will strike! Part of being a writer of any kind is… writing! Obvious, right? But seriously, nothing exercises that writing muscle like having a place to jot down your thoughts when the mood strikes. Even if these aren’t ideas for the next bestseller, lots of things you write down can be helpful to your future writing.

One of the keys to keeping an inspiration notebook is to be uninhibited! No one has to see the things you write in here, except you! This means the possibilities are endless! Here are some ideas of things you can write:

  • A short poem: Feeling silly? Write a funny rhyming verse about something completely mundane. I like to write really fast poems where I make up nonsensical words if I can’t think of anything that rhymes. But poems (they don’t have to rhyme) are also a great emotional outlet if you have a lot of pent up sadness or frustration. Concentrating on exactly how you want to express the way you are feeling has the added bonus of distracting your attention and forcing you to reflect—it can be very cathartic and calming.
  • A philosophical thought: Channel your inner Plato! Sure, philosophizing out loud can be intimidating or seem silly. But who doesn’t ponder *the meaning of life* or marvel at how tiny one person is in relation to our universe?! Not that these are the only big ideas worth thinking about! Challenge yourself: when you hear or read something that shocks you, explore its meaning. Or maybe someone you know was faced with a tough decision—what does their choice tell you about the ambiguity of morality?
  • The mundane: A diary entry, an interesting conversation, a funny person you met, an awesome meal, details of sights you saw and cultural differences you notice while on vacation… anything that happens in your daily life may just be fodder for your writing. A vacation spot could become the setting of your next story, a new acquaintance might inspire your next protagonist, and a funny anecdote is just a form of informal storytelling.
  • Ideas: Maybe an idea for the next great novel (or for a short story) zooms through your brain…you’d better catch it! Roald Dahl was known for jotting a few words down on a napkin with someone’s lipstick, and these eventually were turned into some of his greatest work! You can jot down ideas for inventions too! (How many times a day do you think to yourself, “Man, I wish _________ existed”?) Or, for you budding business men and women, jot down if you think of a company or resource worth investing in!

Still having trouble getting started? Keep your notebook with you when you’re reading a book or watching a movie. You’ll be surprised how often a thought worth revisiting strikes you! Or, how often a quote or image makes an impression on you. These seem like small things, but something that interests you may eventually inspire longer writing.

Remember to keep your notebook organized for easy reference. Date the page you’re writing on, give each entry a title (even if it’s an informal one), and divide your notebook into categories: i.e. story ideas, inspiring quotes, random interesting facts, cool places, funny people you’ve met, etc.

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