Last week, I discouraged our dependence on sudden bursts of inspiration. And I stand by that—they’re erratic and unreliable. However, they aren’t always as sudden as they seem.
Ever watched a movie that made you really want to start writing a book? Or maybe inspiration hit you at the theater. Or at a concert. Or while reading a great novel.
Sometimes often times, inspiration won’t just come to you. You have to go look for it.
It’s no secret that if you want to be a stronger writer, you should be reading…like as much as possible.
According to Evan Maloney’s article for The Guardian, “As well as a large vocabulary, novels give writers a sense of how it is done.” Reading different genres and styles of writing will only improve your own.
The added benefit of reading as a writer? The motivation to write more. Maloney goes on to say, “Even without personal experience as a guide, a great novel can offer writers inspiration.”
In fact, this benefit can come from any number of creative environments. Surrounding yourself with creative minds and their work will put you on the fast track to “a magical wave of unstoppable inspiration” (yes, I’m quoting myself now—oh, the ego!).
When I can have (or listen to, or read, etc.) an interesting conversation among artists, writers, musicians, or the like, it’s all I can do to keep myself from whipping out a pen and paper and furiously take notes on all the ideas swimming through my brain.
So while we may not want to rely on those über motivated days, we’ll certainly take ‘em when they come! Below are 16 books, websites, podcasts, and movies you should be checking out to tap into your inspiration bursts.
But WARNING: you may not want to dive into these without your notepad at the ready. 🙂
16 Places To Go When Inspiration Isn’t Coming To You
The subtitle for this book says it all: How to be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice.
Every writer has at some point dreamed of being Jack Kerouac. This book just revives those dreams.
This list would be incomplete without at least one Austin Kleon work, so I chose one that’s all about where and how to find new ideas for your creativity.
Look here for a fun new writing prompt (ideally something you’d never write about otherwise) to get your brain working in unconventional ways.
If you’re into spirituality, this online course from Buddhist teacher David Nichtern will help you harmonize your creativity and mindfulness.
This may be sooo 2009, but this is still, to this day, where I go when I’m bored. And I always leave rejuvenated.
From the author of Unmistakable, Srinivas Rao, this podcast offers thought-provoking conversations among uber creative and fascinating people (the host included).
In the same vein of reading more stories, listening to stories will get your work your storytelling muscles.
Ever wonder about the origin of NBC’s trademarked chimes or why car dealerships think dancing inflatable humans are a good marketing tactic? This podcast explores life’s tiniest, most insignificant questions in excruciating detail—details that you wouldn’t have know before and that might make the perfect complement to your next story.
10. Song Exploder
If music motivates your creativity, this podcast, where musicians talk through the creative process behind their songs, will send it into hyperdrive.
11. Exit Through the Gift Shop (Documentary)
This document follows Banksy and other famous graffiti artists through the eyes of an ameteur filmmaker, giving viewers a glimpse into the creativity behind street art and pop-up filmmaking.
This look into the less-than-perfect life of an aspiring folk musician (brought to you by the always-clever Coen Brothers) shows his constant struggle of being an artist—sure, it’s less than perfect, but it’s still strangely desirable.
This movie is just so dang genius! It’s quirky and odd and unlike any other movie out there. So naturally, it makes me want to write something unlike any other as well.
An animated movie that can evoke this much emotion through a title character that barely speaks is pretty damn inspiring.
15. Chef’s Table (TV show)
A Netflix original that puts the art in culinary arts. I happen to love food-centered reality TV (and food-centered reality, for that matter), so for me, watching master chefs in their element is like watching a painter create a masterpiece.
16. Project Runway
OK, maybe this is just me, but I love seeing the art-meets-fashion that contestants create. If fashion isn’t your jam, you can insert your favorite competitive series here. My point is that these people LOVE their craft—so much so that they can create something beautiful out of nothing in no time flat.
These are my picks that get me going. One page into On the Road, one minute of I Heart Huckabees, one sentence of This American Life, and the ideas start hitting me like a tidal wave.
So keep your pen and paper handy, and stop waiting for inspiration to come to you when you can go find it on your own!
Oh and let me know some of the other creative places where you go for inspiration—I’m always on the hunt for more!
P.S. Want more ways to get inspired and get to writing? Sign up for The Dusty Quill Updates below—I won’t let your creative well run dry!