How to Get Inspired with a Creative Writing Talisman

How to get inspired

How to get inspired.

Sometimes when we sit down to write, the muse is in full effect and the words pour forth effortlessly. Other times we sit there staring at a blank screen, waiting for creativity to manifest. We wait and we wait.

Then we wait some more.

Writer’s block is the state of being uninspired. It’s just a state of mind, so it can be changed at will, which is a good thing, because when it comes to creative writing, state of mind is pretty important.

Years ago, when I used to draw and paint, I often listened to a particular mix of music. It was ideal background audio for making art, very inspiring. As a result, every time I hear that music, I get an urge to pull out my watercolor pencils and sketchbook because I have built a psychological association between a certain kind of music and a creative activity.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Just imagine how this concept can be applied to creative writing.

Creative Writing with a Talisman

Talisman: anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.” (

In a sense, a talisman can be used to program your muse to come out and get to work — on cue. Imagine having the ability to command your own creativity, to sit down and engage in your writerly work and automatically trigger inspiration.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose your creative writing talisman: It could be a hat or a piece of jewelry. It might be something that sits on your desk, like a picture or a statuette. It can even be a CD or playlist (classical and jazz are great for writing). Choose a talisman that you won’t use in any other capacity except for your creative writing sessions, and make sure it’s not something that will distract you from the task at hand. Also, pick something you can store easily, but which is also accessible. Things that fit in your desk drawer or pocket are ideal. Also, try to find something that already makes you feel inspired.
  2. Charge your talisman: Don’t start using your talisman until your muse is in high gear. You should have it ready for when creativity strikes and when it does, pull out your talisman and focus on it for a few minutes as ideas bounce around in your head. Leave it out as you work on your creative writing during those times when you’re feeling extremely inspired.
  3. Believe in your talisman: If you believe in magic, you might say that you’re infusing the talisman with your creative writing energy. A more scientific explanation would be that you’re training your mind to associate the object with creativity, so whenever you engage the talisman, that creative energy is triggered again. You’re programming yourself.
  4. Use your talisman: Once your talisman starts putting out an inspirational vibe, use it whenever you’re stuck with your creative writing. You’ll know it’s ready because you’ll get the urge to write every time you look at your talisman.
  5. Keep your talisman charged: Even if months down the road, you’re feeling giddy with creativity and you don’t feel like you need it, take out the talisman. This will help keep it charged and maintain the psychological association between the talisman and your creative writing.

Do you have a creative writing talisman or some other ritual that you perform before, during, or after your writing sessions? Do you have any tips for how to get inspired? Tell us about it in the comments, and keep writing!

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About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.


27 Responses to “How to Get Inspired with a Creative Writing Talisman”

  1. Kelvin Kao says:

    I don’t have one for writing or creative process, but this does sound like a good idea. And I like how you have a systematic way of creating a talisman.

    I do have one CD that I use for concentration. Sometimes I need to read some work-related documents that are highly technical, and there are people talking or listening to certain type of music so I am not able to concentrate. I would just pop in that CD, put on my earphones and I can instantly concentrate on my reading. That’s not entirely the same, but I do see how this can work.

  2. Zoe says:

    I love this idea — I think we often need metaphors for things that are so abstract, like creativity, because they offer a tangible way to tap into those abstractions.

    I think my talisman would actually be the act of putting on headphones — not necessarily even putting on music, but just placing the headphones on my ears, and then I am immediately in a space of being in my own writing world.

    • I don’t know why, but I when I read “headphones” in your comment, I visualized these crazy headphones all covered in glitter and decorated with baubles. Hehee.

      • Zoe says:

        Ooh, that would make them more talisman-esque… I think I need to get headphones that are big enough to decorate. Good idea 🙂

  3. Marelisa says:

    I love the idea of a talisman. It’s kind of like having a creativity ritual, but more physical. And I do believe that objects become embedded with the energy of the user, so why not make a conscious effort to infuse an object with your creative energy? I guess basically you’re storing some of your creative energy when it’s in high gear so that you can tap into it when your creativity is low.

    • I love it too. I’m not sure how it actually works — is it psychological, or are you actually storing creative energy? We’ll leave that one for the scientists. In the meantime, I need to get myself a creativity hat.

  4. J.D. Meier says:

    Beautiful and precise.

    I use to think of a Talisman as a crutch, but now I think of it as a tool. Whether it’s the questions you ask, the music you play, or the hat you wear, I’m a fan of stacking the deck in your favor to unleash your best.

    • Oh yes, I think it would be a tool rather than a crutch. I’m not sure I would recommend using a talisman for every single creative session, because then it could turn into a crutch.

  5. I often put together musical playlists for a novel or even a particular character. I also have a “don’t let the door hit you in the a$$” breakup playlist for when I want to write those kinds of scenes.

    But I love the idea of having another talisman. I think of Jo March in her “Genius Burning” cap – maybe I should get a special hat!

  6. Teri Vonn says:

    On a hook in a local thrift shop, a cardinal red hat shouted for my attention. It was too big and I wondered how to keep it on my head in a breeze, but I had to have it. When I read this article, I immediately thought of using that soft straw creation as my creative talisman. It will become my own cone of silence as the wide brim droops and shields me from distraction. Thank you for the idea.

  7. P.I. Barrington says:

    Wow! I’ve been searching for a writing ritual for years but nothing seemed to click and left me frustrated at what seemed like foo-foo actions. But triggering creativity I understand completely and even used those two words years ago at my first panel and book signing! And I love the fact that you explained the process in five short, simple points! Good post; now I’ll have to search for my special talisman!

    • One thing I would add to this post is this: even though the talisman is fun and I believe it works, I also don’t think it’s a good idea to become dependent on it. I wouldn’t want to lose my talisman and then feel like I can’t write anymore or have to shift my focus from writing to getting another talisman. It’s a tool for enhancing creativity but not something we should rely on entirely. I also think that the practice of ritual (even without any talisman whatsoever) can be applied here.

  8. Desley Polmear says:

    I look forward to reading your wise words Melissa. In front of my desk I have a window with plantation shutters. On them I have positive notes, some about writing and some about life. When I get stuck for words I look around at them and usually something comes. If all fails I head off to the garden and work there for awhile. Usually within no time I have an idea. This morning I saw the most beautiful sunrise so switched the computer on and off I went with my manuscript. I never get phased if ideas don’t come as I know they will at sometime through the day. I leave the desk and do something positive.

    • Hi Desley. Thanks for your kind words! Your approach is a good one that works for many writers. One solution to writer’s block is definitely to step away and do something else for a bit. However, for some writers, this turns into a form of permissible procrastination where every time we sit down to write and don’t immediately have a great idea, we just go off and do something else. Like I said, I know it works wonders for a lot of writers, but if it’s not working, if that other activity we’re doing doesn’t eventually lead us back to writing — or if weeks go by and we haven’t written — then that method has turned into procrastination rather than letting our creativity warm up while we do something else. Personally, I’m all over the board. Sometimes, I go do something else and an hour later, I’m writing. Other times, I wander off into a stream of distractions and end up not getting my writing done that day. In any case, some level of discipline must be met. Thanks for sharing your approach. It really got me thinking!

  9. Shane says:

    This rings so true for me. I months ago I created a playlist of four (wordless) songs that I use to play on a continuous loop when ever I got really deep down into my writing process. Every now and then I hear a moving piece of music and I add to that original playlist. I have noticed that my playlist is not as potent as it use to be. Your post reminded me of the power of Classical Conditioning and that I need to continuously “charge” the playlist! Nice.

    Thanks for the reminder and thank you for what you do!

    • I wish I could write to music. I do have a playlist of instrumental music that I use sometimes but it doesn’t really help with my writing and it becomes repetitive rather quickly. I definitely cannot write to music that has lyrics. I think my problem is that I love music so much that when it’s on, I focus on it. At the very least, I need to be able to sing along or listen when I feel like it, and that always interrupts my writing. I do use my playlist sometimes, but for the most part, I write in silence. I think you’re lucky to be writing to music!

  10. Now you got me thinking – What my talisman shall be? Wonder.

  11. Tom says:

    I’ve fettishized a special pen. I spent 20 bucks on it about five years ago. I’ve lost it here and there, because that’s just how I am with things, but I’ve always recovered it. It’s been with me through a few novels and countless poems. It’s also jotted ideas and images down and it’s become like an old friend. Even if I’m typing my work, I like to have it close by.

    If you’re going to spend money on a pen, I recommend getting one that comes with a special box and hang on to that box. It helps you keep track of the pen and makes it less likely that it will be permanently lost. Also, the cool little box helps lend it that air of being a special tool for special purposes.

    Thanks for the tips on giving that extra little charge. I’ll have to try those.

  12. Lisa Canfield says:

    A while ago I used to write while listening to the Lord of Rings soundtrack(I also wrote for a while while watching the movies). I tried making an instrumental soundtrack for writing a while ago, but it just did not work. I too have to write in silence, but I always associated Lord of the Rings with great themes and ideas. Maybe that was why I could write to the soundtrack. I’ll have to get back to that and see if it works ^^
    I am a very visual person, and the idea of having a physical talisman to trigger the imagination really appealed to me and ‘spoke my language’ if you will. If I had not already associated the soundtrack with writing I would definitely have searched for a physical object ^^ Great post, thank you so much.

    • I was just telling another commenter that I recently started drawing again and one of the reasons is because I’m a visual person and I would love to be able to sketch characters and scenes to help me better visualize them. Also, I felt like I needed a creative activity that wasn’t writing. It’s working well. I spend about a half an hour drawing in the evening (nothing fancy and not every night) and it seems to boost my creativity. It’s a good way to prepare for writing. It’s more of a ritual than a talisman.