Awakening Your Creative Muse

I’ve discussed curing writer’s block, but what about preventing writer’s block? How can you stop it before it starts? I’ve once heard that Beethoven got his creative juices flowing by dunking his head underneath cold water before he started working on compositions. He used this habit as a trigger. In Thomas Locke’s Opening Keynote at Realm Makers 2016, he introduced the idea of writing triggers. To jumpstart his creative process, he began by listening to a movie sound track that he only listened to while writing. For each book he wrote, he had a bestselling author he’d picked out and a book he would only read while writing that particular book. Creativity isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Everyone has a different trigger. So, how can you awaken your creative muse?


Are you a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Recently, I’ve found that I’m a kinesthetic learner. I’m very descriptive when it comes to feelings, but sometimes lack visually-orienting details in my writing. I like music and sound, but I can tell it has much stronger affects on other members of my family than it does me. Find out the primary sense you use—either by taking a quiz or by observing your writing—to find your ideal writing trigger. Feel free to combine multiple writing triggers.





If you find a particular image that inspires you, save it onto a Pinterest board and gather all of your story inspiration into one place. If you’d like, take 5-15 minutes before you write and just scroll through the images on your board. Don’t wander! It’s easy to get off a tangent when you’re on Pinterest.


Coloring Book

If you search adult coloring books, you’ll find lots of fun, intricate designs to color. Try setting aside a limited amount of time before you write to color in a particular page. If you’d like an extra creative burst, only use this coloring book or this particular coloring page before you work on this writing project. You’re getting into the habit of kick starting your creativity, and the best way to start a habit is by using a consistent cue.


Storyworld Board

If you’d like something more physical than Pinterest, try this out. I first heard the idea from Storyworld First. In Storyworld First, Jill Williamson talks about a storyworld bible, where you keep all of your storyworld information in one place: the maps, the customs, the creatures, the room layouts, the food, the buildings. Instead of simply typing this information into a Word document, print out images that remind you of your world and inspire you. Stick them onto a poster board and keep the board next to your desk to inspire you. This is particularly useful in the speculative genre or historical, though if you’re creative, you can find uses for it in other genres. For example, maybe you’re writing about a chef. You can paste some of his/her favorite culinary dishes onto the board. Maybe you could have pictures of what your character looks like, their style of clothing, their favorite activities, their pets, or their homes.



Just as Thomas Locke reads part of a certain book only when he’s working on a story, maybe you could set aside 10 minutes before you write to watch a scene of a movie that inspires you.




Movie Soundtrack

Try purchasing an entire movie soundtrack, but only listen to it before or while you’re working on that particular project. Since an entire album of movie soundtracks has multiple instrumentals and music recordings to fit the mood of a particular scene, do the same with your project and use different music recordings to fit the mood of the current scene you’re writing. Of course, you don’t have to use an entire soundtrack for the book you’re writing, but personally, I think only using a single song per book might get tedious after a while.


Sound Affects

Many apps offer sound affects or you can search sound affects on YouTube. See if finding the appropriate sound affect (playing rain when it’s raining in your novel) helps you write.




Coloring Book (Also for Visual people)

If you search adult coloring books, you’ll find lots of fun, intricate designs to color. Try setting aside a limited amount of time before you write to color in a particular page. If you’d like an extra creative burst, only use this coloring book or this particular coloring page before you work on this particular story.



For my current project, I purchased emerald thinking putty from Crazy Aaron’s. I love thinking putty, because it gives me something to play with when I come to a lull in my writing. I’m going to purchase a different type of thinking putty for each writing project. Check out Crazy Aaron’s website, and you might find a putty you like! They have glow-in-the-dark putty, magnetic putty, and color changing putty. An alternative to this is stress balls and squishy things.


Textures and Cloths

Get a small sample of a certain cloth or texture that you only use or feel when you write.



Take a walk you particularly enjoy. See if you can only use this particular route while working on this project.


Et Cetera


Essential Oils

Essential oils come in tons of different scents. If you can’t find the one you’re looking for, go for scented candles or car fresheners. Before writing, dab some on your wrists, your neck, or simply take a whiff. Try to use this scent only before writing this particular project.


Books and Authors

I attribute this idea to Thomas Locke. For every writing project, he gives it a best-selling author and a book that he reads, as I mentioned above. My only concern is that this might change your writing style, but maybe that’s what you’re going for.


Do you have any writing trigger ideas? How do you awaken your creative muse?

Recent Comments

  • Hannah
    August 25, 2016 - 12:31 am · Reply

    I love this post! It is a great summary of these learning styles, and I love your suggestions for each type of learning. I do use a couple of these (theme music primarily), but most are new.

    I have never really known which category is mine. I took your test, and it was quite difficult. I almost never found an accurate answer. I turned out visual, according to that, but I know that is very much NOT me. I am nowhere near auditory either, so I have always figured must be kniestheric by process of elimination. Even so, it never really felt right.

    I discovered relatively recently that there are now seven generally accepted learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic, plus social, solitary, logical (math/scientific/numbers), and most applicable to me, VERBAL (language and words). This was a huge eye opener to me: after years of trying to explain my brain’s thinking style to my heavily auditory dad and highly visual mom, I finally felt like my brain made sense.

    I see things, but I don’t remember pictures, I remember descriptions. I hear, but I remember the words spoken, and not tone, volume, or non-word sounds (like instrumental music, which is why I use that for writing: it disappears into the background.) I learn by doing, but I can sit still for hours or days if I am focused on something I love.

    You know how much I love psychology, but learning styles are right there with it. This is so neat! I am glad you did a post on them! Gives me an idea for my characters… How does their learning style affect how they function?

    Why do you say feelings are included in kinesthetic? And how did you figure out that was your style?

    • Elizabeth Newsom
      September 3, 2016 - 9:41 pm · Reply

      Why, thank you! 😀
      I honestly never considered myself kinesthetic, so you very well might be too.
      Wow. I’ve never heard of all of those. Thanks for mentioning them!
      I remember descriptions too. I have trouble envisioning concrete scenes in my head at times. I’ve heard kinesthetics can learn by doing too.
      Thank you! And I’ve never actually given my characters a learning style either. It’d be interesting to see how it shapes POV by what they pay attention to.
      I read a book called Mindwise that often listed feelings in general (internal and external) as kinesthetic. It had a little quiz in the book that I took, and that’s what I ended up as 🙂

  • Gracen
    August 26, 2016 - 3:20 am · Reply

    I usually like to listen to music when I write. I don’t know if it helps or not. ;0 I also like to find pics of my characters on the internet.

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