Lifestyle

How to get your inspiration back following the pandemic – from people who have done it


Get back in the swing of things (Picture: Getty)

The majority of the past 14 months has consisted of monotonous lockdown days and repetitive everyday activities. 

To say it’s been an uninspiring year is an understatement. 

But some people have truly thrived in lockdown and have embraced the ‘creative renaissance’ that was predicted to follow the pandemic. 

Miranda Rijks has been incredibly busy writing four psychological thrillers since the start of the very first lockdown.

That’s right, four whole books.

While some people struggled to find inspiration, Miranda loved having all the extra time to herself.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Because I am used to working from home and writing at the kitchen table, lockdown wasn’t a massive change or the shock to the system that it was to some people.

‘Also, because I had bone cancer a few years ago and had to self-isolate for a year due to chemo, this was like a very “lite version” of that.

‘My publishers are small and the beauty of small organisations is that they can move quickly, responding to changes in the market.

‘So that meant that my books were published quickly at a time when people were at home and wanted to read. I know that I am one of the very few people who has had a good year, all things considered, and I’m really grateful.’

Three of Miranda’s books have already been published and one is coming out in July.

Has lockdown left you thoroughly uninspired? (Picture: Getty)

Sarah Booner, 39, also took lockdown as an opportunity to finish the novel she’d been working on for over a year. But she soon found herself struggling to edit her manuscript. 

‘In the end I put the manuscript aside and spent time working on my writing craft instead: reading a plethora of “how to” books and writing short stories,’ Sarah explains. 

One of her stories was about a woman called Megan who tried to get away with murdering her identical twin, by pretending to be both of them. 

A few days later, Sarah realised she could go deeper with Megan’s story and build a whole novel around the predicament. 

Sarah says: ‘I started that evening and less than six weeks later I had a first draft. After significant editing, I submitted it to agents and was lucky to be signed by Hannah Sheppard at DHH Literary.’

The book Her Perfect Twin is due to be published in January 2022.

For anyone struggling to get their inspiration back following the pandemic, both Sarah and Miranda have shared some tips on how to get creative juices flowing again – after a difficult year.

Don’t set yourself goals or high expectations

Miranda says: ‘Generally, we’re our harshest critics and I think we need to learn to be kind and forgiving to ourselves. If you think you need to paint a picture in a certain way or write your memoirs by Christmas, that’s putting pressure on yourself.

‘Creativity should be fun and can be expressed in anything that you love doing, whether that’s cooking, gardening or tidying the house.’

Don’t do it alone

Miranda says: ‘It’s much easier to be creative with other people, bouncing ideas around, chatting either in person (if it’s allowed), or via Zoom or connecting via Facebook groups.

‘I’m very lucky that my publishers have a process called the Writer’s Room, where their authors talk through plot ideas with editors. Collaborative writing happens in screen writing but it’s new in book writing.’

Miranda adds that she’s also a member of the Crime Writer’s Association – which has online get-togethers. She also connects with other authors through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Take a journal on-the-go

Sometimes ideas come to you in the most unlikely places.

Miranda adds: ‘Carry around a little notebook or use your phone to jot down ideas.

‘It’s useful having a pen and paper next to your bed so you can jot down ideas that come to you in the middle of the night or from dreams.’

Try not to think too much

Miranda says: ‘I get most of my inspiration when I’m out in nature or when I’m soaking in the bath. The harder I try to come up with creative ideas, the less successful I am.

‘A hot bath with scented oils is perfect for relaxing and then the ideas flow.’

Give yourself a break

Sarah adds that one of the most important things is to be kind to yourself.

She says: ‘Recognise that we are living in tumultuous times and you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone.

‘If you find writing a struggle, put the pen down and go for a walk. Read the books you love. Write the stories you want to tell. Don’t be afraid to try something new.’

Stop stressing about the ‘big idea’

‘For me, the biggest thing was moving away from trying to think of “the big book idea” and writing for the sheer enjoyment of escaping into stories,’ explains Sarah.

‘Taking that pressure off myself eventually allowed my creativity the space to grow. I switched genres too: I was originally writing more literary fiction, but the reality is that I’m much better at writing bold and twisty thrillers where you want the main character to get away with murder.

‘Once I’d found my groove with writing Megan’s story, I was consumed by it and, with so few distractions, was often writing 4,000 words in a single day.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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