I've been writing a book for almost a year now. But it takes so long because I have to wait for "inspiration".

Sometimes I will get an idea that makes me excited and want to write. Mostly it's a piece of scene or dialogue. I don't know if this is an inspiration, but I call it that way, because out of nowhere the idea will strike me. Writing is effortless so I am able to write many pages and enjoy it. Suddenly I will have strong, emotional ideas and I am able to push my plot forward.

Unfortunately it happens rarely. And without inspiration I'm just the worst writer ever.

I force myself to come up with something (aka brainstorm) but those are just random ideas. Very boring ideas. I stare at a blank screen for hours. I try to start a scene but then leave it. I tried to plan the scene in my mind but it doesn't help.

For example, I think "okay I'll write - Grace goes to the shop and steals something". But I'm empty, I feel no urge, no emotion. So I think "Why would I even write that. It's so boring". I end up torturing myself by writing some useless random scenes. I don't even finish them.

Maybe I shouldn't be a writer at all. Because I can't write a sentence without an inspiration. It's like my ability to write doesn't depend on me. I can't control it, it seems to happen randomly. I haven't yet discovered how to trigger this "state" and I can't write without it.

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    I so agree with you whenever something happens in my life thatleaves a feeling in my heart gives me the passion to write
    – ava
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 17:18
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    I think it's a lot easier to write when you have a 'start' state and an 'end' state – this is for everything: a scene, a dialog, a character, a plot…. IMO, writing is interesting when it's about change. You maybe need to challenge yourself – not to be more disciplined to just sit and write, but to think up better situations. Every scene should move the character along their path through a changing situation (and their changing perception). I find it much easier to remain interested in my own stuff when I think about how the situation is dynamic. I need to begin one way, and end another.
    – wetcircuit
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 17:43
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    I tried to find the meme that says this (do what you love for a living and you'll hate what you do) but I ended up on Reddit : Serious. Did you pursue your passion and end up hating it? What happened?. (the second answer is by a writer) - Try to write for everyone and you will write for no one. - "But at the end of the day you just gotta do it for yourself, baby."
    – Mazura
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 4:41
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    "you can't rush the muse. She's like a cat; she comes when she feels like it, but most often when there's food around). So, I feed the muse with research." – If I wouldn't want to read the story, is writing it still a good idea?
    – Mazura
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 8:23
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    I'm just adding a quick warning for @Mazura 's comment, the answer they're referring to on Reddit is highly profane and definitely not safe for work. Commented May 21, 2020 at 19:40

7 Answers 7



Don't worry. I've experienced this before. This is something many of us as writers face.

But if you wait for inspiration, it will never come.

You must give yourself inspiration. Waiting for it to happen is like getting a train to drive on water. Without tracks.

Now, it's not impossible, but it's very rare and can be considered impossible by many.

I never wait for inspiration, and I have plenty of ideas.

What you need to do is not wait for it to miraculously appear, but instead do anything of the following:

Read books (this can give you inspiration, as you can get certain ideas)

Fantasize (I don't mean the sexual kind of fantasize, unless you are trying to write that kind of book; what I mean is just mess around with a situation in your head) Example: You are pretending to be an elf in your mind. You travel to a land called Bigaspore (or something) and try to save the kingdom there or defeat an evil villain. In your fantasy, you would play the role of the elf and go on the journey, defeating trolls, befriending orcs, and whatever else you can think of. (Feel free to use this idea if you wish)

Look around for ideas (Media, books, shows, movies, plays, etc. are all good places)

Write down a bunch of ideas and put them together in a good way (This is what I sometimes have to do; write down a couple of ideas, then take the parts you like and put them into a story while getting rid of the parts you don't like) Example: I have 3 different stories: a) A girl goes onto a journey to save the race of dwarves from evil elves. b) A father has to travel the world with a phoenix in order to stop a villain in an industrial castle. c) A vulture feeds on the lives of souls, and a boy must go and stop her. Now, here's how I would improve it: I like the idea of a father, and I like the girl too, so maybe it's a father and a daughter. I like the idea of a phoenix companion, but it would seem to fit the boy better. I want the characters to meet, so the boy and phoenix will end up crossing paths with the father and daughter later. I don't like the saving the dwarves, but maybe that can be a separate race? And the vulture could be the villain in the industrial castle that they have to go and stop! (As you can see, I made a story simply by looking at a bunch of different ideas; feel free to use this idea if you want too)

Practice (Write whenever you can, take story prompts and write them, make fan fictions, etc.)

Whatever else comes to mind (boredom helps, since I usually have nothing to do but fantasize.)

You're not a terrible writer. You're just a beginner. I'm kind of at that stage, except I've already figured out how to get past the dreaded Writer's Block. Sometimes, you won't be able to get past that, and that's fine. I have times when I can't come up with anything.

Just don't give up. Practice, and you'll get there.

Good luck.

Edit: I have to add a couple more things:

  1. Sometimes, when I'm looking for a certain story to read, I get frustrated because there's nothing there. So instead of waiting to see if someone else will write it, I write it myself. It also allows me to dictate how the story turns out.

  2. Other times, I like the base of a story idea (dude goes on an adventure to find a jewel), however, I felt like that story could have been different. And then I'll write my own version. Just make sure it's different and you're not crossing copyright!

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    +1 for the above and I would also like to add that from OP's question, I can sense a lot of negative self talk. That never helps. You should be hard on yourself to get yourself to move forward but not so much that it deters you from it.
    – user96551
    Commented May 21, 2020 at 16:17
  • @user96551 Agreed. Commented May 21, 2020 at 17:37

I understand the feeling. However, the way to write better is to critique. Write a full scene when you aren't inspired - force yourself to finish it. Then critique it - what is missing from the scene that is present in your inspired writing. What is the fundamental difference between the two types of writing? If you can isolate those points and then work on improving them, you may be a able to write even when not inspired.

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    Agreed. This is a very good point to look at, when trying to write scenes. Commented May 20, 2020 at 23:03

Are you absolutely certain that your writing is bad when you're not inspired? Or is this just what it feels like to you at the time?

For me personally, the best writing advice I ever heard (although I've sadly forgotten the source) was from a published author who said this: although he himself could tell the difference between the parts of the story he wrote when inspired and the parts he forced out to meet his daily word count... none of his readers could.

So, here's an exercise: during one of your uninspired times, sit down and force yourself to write. Turn off the internet, remove all distractions from your surroundings, and tell yourself that you will not do anything else until you have put X words down on paper. (I use 300, myself - it's small enough to seem achievable even if every sentence is a pain - but amounts may vary.) Once you're done, leave the scene and come back to it once enough time has passed that it's not really present in your memory anymore (a few weeks, maybe).

Does it still seem terrible to you?

If it does, try showing it - together with one of the scenes you wrote in the full throes of inspiration - to someone. (A friend willing to read your writing, a writing teacher, whatnot.) Do they agree that there's a real difference in quality?

If so, I point you towards @ArtichokeAndAnchovyPizza's answer about trying to suss out what the one scene is missing that the other one has. But it's actually quite possible that you'll find that the scene you forced is fine, that you can write at a good quality even without inspiration.

In general... yes, writing without inspiration sucks. It's a slog. But fact of the matter is that if you want to write longer works, and absolutely if you want to write professionally, you are almost certainly going to have to learn how to do it. Inspiration isn't something you can rely on being there whenever you need it - or for every scene you need! - and only writing when you're really excited about it will result in you writing very slowly and your stories often never reaching completion.

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    I have to point out, Artickoke's name is spelt weirdly. It has a k, not an h, so it looks like this (look closely): @ArtickokeAndAnchovyPizza Just edit it and it should be fine. Commented May 21, 2020 at 21:52

Two things come to mind.

1. Try to figure out what time of the year you have periods of high creativity.

If you have consistent trouble coming up with ideas in spite of all other factors remaining the same, you could have a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder or something similar. The tendency for some people to get depressed in the winter is well known, but what is not well-known is that people with SAD can enter a hypomanic state from late April-June due to the change in sunlight.

This often manifests itself as sudden spurts of "inspiration" that seem to come from nowhere and a general sense of clear-headedness. For writers, this can be a problem if you aren't aware of it. A lot of writers have noticed they seem to have bursts of creativity in late spring-early summer they can't explain and it turns out to be a sign of SAD.

It could be any number of things, including true major depressive disorder to just plain writer's block, but this is something that is often overlooked in general.

2. Consume other fictional works, specifically those relate to the genre you wish to write.

I've tried getting inspiration from reading other works in the same genre as I want to write as well as writing guides/watching Youtube videos discussing common literary devices or reviewing previous works. Reading other pieces of literature frequently works, but reading guides on how to write, how others have written, or how common tropes and literary devices work does not help. Other writers have said similar things. Not sure why, but it may be due to what other writers say about how "writing brain" and "editing brain" are two different things.

  • Very good points. I personally have dysthymia (except mine is more severe than mild), so it can't work that way for me. But it could work if you have the above-mentioned depressions! The real problem is if you let it get the best of you. If you give in, you've lost. If you fight back you're winning. Even if it doesn't feel like it, you are. Commented May 21, 2020 at 4:16

Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

— Michelangelo Buonarroti

There is a convincing, exciting, captivating story that you are carving from blank paper with your plans and words.

If you are not in the mood for working on some of the finest part of your story, you can go somewhere else and roughly chip out big fragments. These are the bits that don't need inspiration. As you reveal more and more of the entire form, you will come back to little areas and you'll get excited about finishing them.

Think about a huge block of marble. "Oh, I'm going to go sculpt an ear to perfection." Why would you get excited about that? But when you see a man with arms and legs and a nose, you give the man a name, you see his posture, you want to learn more about him. Even if the arms and legs and nose are very blocky.

And with so many areas that need to be fleshed out, you will get inspiration for something, somewhere, much more often.

The key, then, is to write as fast as possible in the early stages. Just write utter crap. Don't look for the right word. And don't go back to previous sentences. Inconsistency is fine. If you spend more than 30 seconds on a sentence, pretend you've finished it and start a new paragraph.

You may not enjoy it. But if you do it properly, it won't take a lot of time. (You might actually enjoy it anyway, since you are discovering the story arc rather than wading through some boring details.)

A common trap is that after you do this a while, you'll want to go back and flesh out details, which is a recipe for spending forever on it. Prioritise getting to the end of the story quickly and evaluating the story arc before doing too much fine-grained work.

  • Agreed. Finish the story first; edit it after. Otherwise you'll never get it done. Commented May 21, 2020 at 3:15

So who is this Grace person? What is she stealing... a tin of beans or a mink coat? And, more important... why is she stealing it?

I like to think I 'know' my characters... who they are and what they would do in any particular situation (though they do occasionally surprise me!)

Think of twenty questions about her: what does she like to eat, what music does she listen to, where did she go to school, who are her friends. You don't have to tell us about it directly but you ought to know.

Once you've done that, hopefully Grace is a much more 'real' person and you might care about why she's steeling something.


To be perfectly honest with you, take a step back from the story and write something else - even if it's a three of four page scene of another story you have envisioned. In my case, it helps.

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