As a writer, it’s hard to get inspired when your only view is the walls of your house and your neighbor’s front lawn. Not to mention, with all of the news constantly being thrown in our faces, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and just sit there trying to process the dramatic shift in all of our lives. To quote Veronica Roth in the First Draft podcast, it’s like society is collectively grieving the loss of normalcy. Of course, if relaxing and laying down is what you need to cope, that’s completely valid. I for one have mostly been trying to keep busy by reading and finding new hobbies.
Now more than ever, it’s great to have an escape, a brief respite from the chaos of reality into the structure and fantasy of stories. Still, as a writer, it can be challenging getting inspired when all you’re really doing is learning, working, cooking, sleeping, and watching Netflix. Recently, I’ve actually been a little bit overwhelmed from my constant work and zooming, so I’ve found a few different ways to write and get inspired during this confusing and unprecedented time. So, here you have it! Eight activities or ways to get inspired during quarantine!
Journaling has been really helpful recently in getting me to write. It kind of works as an outlet for all of the feelings and ideas that have pent up inside me throughout this quarantine. I’ve mostly used my journal for fiction with a few pieces on my day to day life, but really what’s within the journal depends on the writer. You can fill it up with just about anything that’s on your mind.
2. 10 Minute Writing Prompts
When I did a four week writing camp about three years ago, one of the activities in my fiction writing class was 10 Minute Writing Prompts. Basically, the teacher would give us a prompt of an idea and she’d give us ten minutes to write as much as we could going off the top of our heads. Recently, I’ve actually been doing that on my own. I’ve been creating or finding writing prompts and giving myself 10 minutes to write a short scene or story about it. I’ve particularly enjoyed this activity because it really helps me tap into my creativity. Below, you can find a few prompts and websites where you can find more:
- Write a story about someone who finds a secret passageway in their house.
- Build a character with a unique defining characteristic.
- Write a scene in only dialogue and go on to rewrite it in only description.
- Write a scene based on a powerful emotion.
3. Write a scene or story based on a song
While writing one day, I was listening to a song by The Beatles and got a very clear image of a character I wanted to create. Try finding a song on your phone and create a story mirroring the song or its vibe.
4. Catharsis: Write a scene behind a picture
Find any picture online, whether it be a photograph or a drawing. Ignore any background information about it and only focus on the picture, its colors, and its characters. Imagine what is happening to the setting and characters within the image and create a story around it. I guarantee this will help you find some inspiration even if you are locked within the walls of your home.
While this is a lot more simple, reading is a great way to find inspiration for future works of fiction. Not to mention, reading also helps in perfecting grammar, craft, and storytelling, so now that we’re kind of stuck indoors, take advantage of some of your free time by reading the book that’s been sitting unread on your bookshelves or finding the audiobook you’ve been meaning to listen to.
6. Try Writing a Poem
This can be any type of poem inspired by just about anything. I, for one, wrote a poem in my journal inspired by “Much Madness” by Emily Dickinson because I had the first line of her poem stuck in my head. Maybe find a poem that inspires or fascinates you and write a poem with a similar style.
7. Explore your house/apartment
You probably know the inside of your home like the back of your hand. If you didn’t at the beginning of COVID-19, you certainly do now. For this, however, I want you to take a deeper look into the nooks and crannies of your home. Find details that are unique about it or look at it from seemingly another perspective. I guarantee this will definitely help you find some inspiration or some ideas for stories or at the very least characters.
8. Revisit Something You Wrote Long Ago
It can be both a nostalgic and embarrassing experience re-reading old work, but it can also lead to more ideas as you begin to see the ways you can expand on an old story. Find the little mistakes and the little wonders within your writing and edit or build something from it. Who knows? Maybe a story you started three years ago is once again calling your name.
No matter what, during this confusing and claustrophobic time it’s important to take a second and breathe. Clear your head of worry and fear and relax for a few minutes. Things have changed a lot, so it’s important to take a second and cope with this worldwide halt. Things are probably going to continue to change for a while, but one day I know things are going to be better, if not completely back to normal. For now, though, we write and we breathe and we carry on.