Essentials for an Inspired Life

10 Essentials for an Inspired Author’s Life

10 Essentials for an Inspired Author's Life PinterestThe romance of a tortured artist’s life aside, we are all in search of the secrets that will allow inspiration to flow through our lives. In my book Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration, I discuss the best ways to keep Madame Muse at your beck and call—rather than the other way around. But for today, let’s take a look at ten essentials (some more essential than others) for anyone wanting to live a consistently inspired author’s life.

1. Coffee and Chocolate

What’s a writer without a little caffeinated energy? There’s just something comfortable about any routine that includes two of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. Plus, they’re always good for self-bribery.

2. Music

As a breathing of the soul—a wordless story—music is an inspiration to all of us, no matter our calling as artists. Writers listen to music to calm themselves before jumping into a tough chapter, to jack up the adrenaline before writing battle scenes, or even just to catch a random bit of inspiration for that next story.

How Writing Music Will Make You a Better Writer

3. Effective Personalized Tools

No two writers work in exactly the same way, so it’s no surprise we all prefer different tools. My tools of choice are a handful of notebooks, a scratchy pen, and a laptop. Whatever tools you choose, invest in something you’ll enjoy using. Writing can be tough enough without fighting an old clunker of a computer that freezes up every few weeks and endangers your work.

Pictorial Ideas for a Writing Routine

4. The Arts

Artists of all kinds feed off each other. We refill our creative wells from the offerings of others. Don’t let your well go dry! Pile your nightstand with good novels, watch every good movie that comes your way—and don’t neglect other art forms, such as painting, singing, and even cooking. Absorbing this wealth from others is invaluable for any writer, but don’t be afraid to delve into other art forms for cross-pollination in your writing.

5. Strong Goals

The occasional drudgery of writing can become overwhelming if you don’t have a strong focus on what you’re trying to achieve. Decide what it is you want to accomplish with your writing—whether it’s publication, becoming a bestseller, or even just finishing a story to share with family and friends—and keep that goal firmly in sight, especially on the tough days.

Warning: Poor Choice of Your Character’s Goal Is Killing Your Story

6. An Encouraging Atmosphere

You can’t always choose the kind of atmosphere in which you write; sometimes you just have to write whenever and wherever you can. But whenever it’s in your power to do so, live in an atmosphere that encourages your writing. That might mean isolation, or it might mean a cheerful, busy bistro. It might mean a quiet office filled with your favorite things, or, like Hemingway, it might mean your kitchen table, surrounded by your children.

7. Acceptance of Interference

Much as we might like the idea of retreating to our ivory towers to write in solace for twelve hours straight, we all know real life doesn’t quite work that way. It’s best to learn early to accept the inevitable interference (day jobs, kids, plumbing emergencies) that thrust themselves into your writing days. Otherwise, you’re sure to go crazy!

How Stay-at-Home Moms (and Other Busy Folks) Can Find Time to Write

8. Consistent Habits

The most important skill any writer can have—even more important than writing superb prose and gripping plots—is the ability to be consistent. Don’t allow yourself to get away with excuses. Don’t let your writing slip to the bottom of your to-do list every day. If this important to you, then prove it to the world by consistently giving it precedence.

9. A Cat

What’s a writer without a cat? We all need a warm, furry body twining around our ankles, jumping onto our keyboards, and occasionally giving us supercilious looks to remind us that we are not, after all, Margaret Atwood or Stephen King.

What if your antagonist isn't a person?

10. Imaginary Friend

Is it even possible to be a writer without invisible people running amok in our brains? Keep those special, magical people close by your side, and you’ll never lack for characters to write about!

Ghost Woman History Magic

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What is your top tip for living an inspired author’s life? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Above all else, 9 and 10. Not having a cat is sad, heart-wrenching, soul-crushing sad; and how can you write without a bunch of imaginary people?

  2. Fortunately, I’ve plenty of both around at the moment!

  3. Wow, this was really great!

    Chocolate to bribe yourself is genious.

    Music of inspiration? Bullseye! Never really thought of it that way.

    Yup, tools are what will get us to accomplish the goals!

    Of course… who didn´t have a complicated knot on the plot suddenly resolved when reading on whatching a movie? That glorious moment when you think: It has always been there, in front of my very eyes!

    What´s a person without a goal? We all need to have one because that it was keeps us moving. Going on.

    Atmosphere: Yes, whenever you can. I must admit I usually get on my blackberry and start typing in the bus.

    Oh, interference sucks! But yeah, quitting the day job is something we´re not all so ucky to get! So yes, we have to deal with it and write a litte every day.

    Oh, ditto for the last sentence. If you want to get something done, you have to make it matter.

    The truth is I never had a pet. I should get one.

    And OMG yes! How can you write without an imaginary character?

    Thanks for another great post!

    A big hug!


  4. Every writer needs a cat to remind us who’s really Master of the Universe. 😉

  5. HAha, well, then I think I will need one!

    I don´t like them tough! Tjey scared me big time more than once!

  6. A gerbil, maybe? 😀

  7. I’m allergic to cats, but my dog lays at my feet while I’m writing.

  8. I have a dog too. They’re just as important to writers as cats!

    • Abbalutely. But Sax Rohmer had a cat. One night, while Rohmer was envisioning his oriental villainess standing in a curtained nook in his office, the cat stared at the space and began to hiss and yowl. Pooches are more pragmatic.

  9. About number nine, I think a rabbit works better. They’re all lot more fluffy and less inclined to scrape furniture.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Won’t argue that! There are a gazillion baby rabbits running around my place right now. I’d love to catch one!

  10. Coffee and chocolate number 1 – love it! 🙂

  11. Cats can inspire you. Speaking of Stephen King, I think he’s a cat lover. As was T.S. Eliot.

    Cats are the perfect pet for deep thinkers. Dogs ensure physical exercise though.

  12. I agree with all but the cat. Cats… just no. No. Please no.

    However, my fictional cat, Purrlock, can wreak havoc (not Havig, havoc) in my character’s life all he wants. The evil feline.

  13. A great list. Speaking of personalized tools, I recently got an Olympia typewriter, vintage 1966. Sort of a decor item to create a writerly atmosphere. [I actually used it recently as a prop for my short play, “The Lollipop Corps.”]

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