Waiting for Inspiration?
Do you ever feel you lack inspiration? Or are you someone who starts the New Year with amazing goals and manages to keep the creative juices flowing all year round? Most of us belong to the first category. Writing, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, a poem a blog, or even a journal entry, requires a certain amount of inspiration to even get us started. And there we immediately hit the nail on the head: Get started!!!
The First Shitty Draft
If every journey begins with a first step, so every piece of writing begins with one word. One word becomes a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph – you get the picture. The first shitty draft is important for all writers. Get the bare bones of the blog, article, essay or story down. It’s particularly important for novelists who are working on a long haul proposition. But, whatever you’re writing, it’s important to get that first shitty draft written, otherwise you’ll get bogged down in a bunch of second guessing, plot angst and a passel of procrastination.
6 Resources For Inspiration
Okay, so you’re finally in front of the computer after your third cup of coffee, and the dog has been walked till it’s poor little legs have all but fallen off. And still your mind is a blank.
First step – don’t worry!!! Inspiration is all around you, you just need to keep an open mind and be proactive. Here are 6 resources to use, when you’re searching for inspiration.
Yes they’re all full of bad news, and you might wonder how an article on yet another economic downturn be inspiring. Keep an open mind for a moment. An economic downturn means unemployment, which means peoples lives change , and they struggle to find work, which can lead to domestic problems, and an argument that might mean the end of a marriage that was failing anyway, or one partner says to hell and has an affair… you see where I’m going with this. The heart of any fiction is conflict. That one article has provided a whole barrel of conflict.
I find it’s the small stories that peak my interest in newspapers. “91 year grandmother dies while boarding a bus.” Horrible headline, but makes me wonder what happened to the women in her life span, and how did she manage to live long enough and remain fit enough to catch a bus at 91 years old.
My favorite headline of all time was in a local borough paper in London, the Hackney Gazette. The headline was “Lucky Victim Stabbed 7 Times”. I mean really – you couldn’t make that stuff up.
But if you think this is all a load of baloney, then think ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote. Not only a bestseller but a successful film. Real events give the inspiration for an amazing amount of imagination – or serious discussion.
My personal favorite are old photographs, and the stories behind the people in them. With Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram and endless other internet resources, the availability of still images to ponder over and speculate about and travel to a different physical location in your minds eye, is endless.
Before we learned to become writers, the chances are we were all readers. And why not learn from the best. I covered this issue in more detail in the post Authors An Infinite Resource, but when I’m struggling over how to write a particular scene or indeed what to write, I always find inspiration in reading a good book. It doesn’t have to be anything to do with what I’m writing, but a good writer is always inspiring.
If you’re a blogger then read another blogger’s work that you admire.
4. Family Affairs
So you think your life isn’t interesting enough to write about? Don’t be so sure. You know what happened so there’s no suspense for you, but your readers may be more interested in things you consider mundane than you think. It can be hard for us to write about personal experiences that have been traumatic, but that’s an individual choice. The issue you had to deal with might be something other readers can relate to. The beauty of using your own experiences for inspiration, means you can slack off for the most part on the research. But the most important part of using your own life as a resource, is you have the power to change your own past. Fictionalize it – and I’m not simply talking about changing names, change what happened.
As we all know, music plays to one of our strongest of the senses -pun intended. You can hear the first few bars of a song and be immediately transported to a different period in your life, or have an emotion grab you by surprise. I like to feature music in my novels, as many other authors do. Murakami is one who comes to mind, featuring jazz quite prominently in many of his books (He owned a jazz club in Japan, which he gave up to become a writer.)
Music does not have to be an actual feature in your work, but listening to music, and different kinds of music, will affect what you write as you are writing.
How to Maintain Your Inspiration
This is the easy part – write. Then write some more. It’s really as simple as it sounds. If you stop, your creative juices will dry up, and trying to get inspired will be that much harder. I’m a big believer in little and often when it comes to writing. That will mean different things for different people. Some writers have a very rigid everyday writing regime. I don’t always write every day, but I’m often sorry when I haven’t. If you like routines, then find one for your writing, even if it’s only ten minutes a day. Even for the most time-challenged person, ten minutes a day is an achievable goal. But if you’re like me and prefer to be more freeform, go with that, but be sure not to lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve.
What do you do when you are lacking inspiration? Do you have tricks you play with yourself to keep yourself inspired?
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