I am a beginning fiction writer.
I have plenty of experience writing academic essays, even grading papers. Fiction, however, is another story.
For some reason, I found myself waiting for the elusive fiction fairy sometimes. I think she must hang out with the laundry fairy and the dishwasher fairy. When I finally do get inspiration, I'm usually either in my car on the way somewhere that does not permit my taking out a laptop and typing away, or I'm in bed and it's 1:00 in the morning (not exactly the best time to write).
So, why does inspiration hit us at such inconvenient times? I think it's because we try too hard. When we go looking for inspiration, it hides. When we finally "turn off" our minds from trying so hard to be creative, creativity flows more organically. For me, that is why I often get my best ideas before falling asleep.
Here are some things I've found to be helpful when you aren't feeling creative, but you know you need to write anyway:
1) Stop searching for the world's greatest idea. Just start writing. Fiction writing is similar to poetry writing in that you rarely have your best idea right away. Sometimes you have to write your way into a brilliant idea. It may take five, ten, or even twenty pages, but eventually you'll get there.
2) Stop being so hard on yourself! Sometimes I shoot down my own ideas because they don't seem good enough. If your standard is perfection, you will never write more than a page, and you will be lucky to get that much done. Remember: writing is a process, not a finish line.
3) Look for inspiration in unexpected places. Write from life experience. Go outside and take a walk. Start listening to people's conversations in public. Become an expert observer.
4) Stop updating your Facebook status while writing! Focus your energy on your story. When I get a great idea, I want to share it with the world immediately, but then I lose focus. Sometimes you have to block out things that call for your attention. Better yet, use those struggles in your story; they will make your characters even more believable.
5) Don't be afraid of criticism. Sometimes when I think something I've written is very strong and then I hear someone criticize it, or it doesn't win a contest I entered, or someone just doesn't like it, I lose motivation to continue writing. I think this loss of motivation is a natural part of the writing process because we write with readers in mind. However, at some point you simply have to pick yourself up and trust that if God called you to write, He will not only use the criticism to strengthen you but will also give you the tools you need to do the job well. Also, don't forget to spend time in prayer and Bible reading. When I get busy, those two things are often the first to go; however, those two things actually motivate the rest of our lives.
I hope these tips will encourage you on your writing journey. When all else fails, you can always blog to avoid working on your book yet still feel productive. ;)