Every writer, however brilliant, will at some point be faced with writer’s block. That horrible state of emptiness where you cannot think of a single word worth writing and inspiration is nowhere to be seen. So, how can you tempt inspiration out of the shadows and words onto the page?

Inspiration often comes when we are doing something outside our normal routine like eating weird and wonderful foods on holiday or talking to exciting new people. But, new experiences don’t just come with exotic holidays and glamorous parties.

Here are a few tips to help you create these moments of newness your everyday lives and to help you inspire your way out of writer’s block.

1. Talk to a stranger

One of the easiest and most overlooked ways of finding inspiration is by talking to someone new.

With 7 billion people in the world, there is always going to be someone you could connect with. What about those other weary commuters waiting for a bus/train/other modes of unreliable transport? Or that man that you pass on your street and always share a smile with? Or that woman that you buy your newspaper from every day but never get beyond basic pleasantries?

Be bold. Ask questions and rather than worrying about what you’ll say next, really listen to what that person is telling you. It’s surprising how much human beings are willing to open up if they think somebody is actually listening.

Talking to people outside of your usual circle can provide you with a doorway into how other people live, in turn, helping open your mind up to new journeys for your characters.

city travel

2. Go somewhere new

If you are free to jet off to far off destinations at a moment’s notice then good for you. But, for most of us, the trick is to open our eyes to what is on the doorstep.

Walk down a street you've not been down before. Wherever you live there will be some form of untapped territory. For instance, just a couple of blocks away from me there is a little alleyway that cuts through from one street to another. I don't ever need to use it but the other day, after 4 years in the neighborhood I decided just to walk down it. Turns out not only it is very pretty but it has some surprisingly good views into people’s dining rooms. If you are a writer and you say you aren’t nosy, you are probably lying. Making observations about people and places is a writer’s daily grind and exposing your eyes and mind to new places can lead to some brilliant new fodder for your novel.

3. Take yourself on a sensory adventure.

One of the most enjoyable things about going away is the tastes, smells and textures you experience. But, you needn’t cross the ocean to get those sensory hits.

Go to your nearest specialist food store. For me, that’s the broadly named ‘International Grocers’ down the road. Here I can get lost in aisles of unfamiliar spices, huge buckets of olives bobbing in oil, and tables piled high with watermelons. Or what about a visit to the patisserie? The amazing smell as you walk through the door, neat rectangles of mille-feuille filled with egg custard, Tarte Tatin glossy and dense, macaroons in pinks and greens wrapped in cellophane and ribbon.

Buy a coffee and dip your croissant in it. Let the smells colors and textures transport you to Paris or Provence. Describing the smell as you break open that croissant could be the opening scene to your next novel.

So go. Experience new things, use all your senses and don’t forget to take a notepad.

Ruth Colmer

Ruth is a freelance writer, researcher, and lecturer. She likes reading, cooking, writing stories, travel, and human beings.