After realizing I hadn't done one of these since...January??!?! after PROMISING you guys I would do one every month, I thought I'd change this to a more quarterly thing. ;) Or, a whenever-I-have-time-to-squeeze-one-into-my-hectic-schedule thing. :P
And I have a subject I think all we authors can relate to, and something that has been on my mind a lot this year. (It also happens to be the topic I chose to write for Project Canvas...so, yeah. ;) Hope you enjoy!
How do we find inspiration?
Inspiration is a funny thing. It comes, it goes…or sometimes, it doesn’t come. If you’re just beginning a story and trying to figure out what exactly you want to write, trying to come up with a new scene/character/plot twist, or seeing the light at the end of the story…but not really being sure of how you’re going to get where you were supposed to end up, and wondering who else has problems with those areas, rest easy knowing that you’re not alone. The struggle is real. It happens to all of us writers.
The question is; how do we do it? How do we inspire ourselves?
Well, unfortunately, there’s no easy, step-by-step guide to inspiring yourself. Why? Because each author’s way of getting inspired is unique to themselves. However, I have some good news for you. Inspiration WILL come.
There are ways you can trick your brain into gaining inspiration faster. Over the years of being a writer myself, I’m going to give you some of the things I use most when I find myself stuck in a certain area.
I Make Sure I’m Following an Outline:
As a very strong panster, I totally get those of you who kind of brush over the fact that a story needs an outline. Outlines are one of my writing nemeses. I dislike using them as a general rule…but I have to say they are a necessary part of a book. After all, nothing helps your inspiration like having a place you know you need to end up in the next chapter.
So, if you’re like me, sometimes you need to take a moment when you get hit with writer’s block and find out where your book is headed and where you want it to end up.
I Question My Writing:
I’m also a somewhat scattered person, so I can get caught up in a conversation between characters and completely forget where I was going with my plot line. When this happens, I inevitably will end up against a wall in my writing. Even if I have an outline to follow, I don’t always know how to get to where I want to be with a certain scene or chapter. This is when I begin a self-interrogation of my story.
Where do I want this scene to end up?
What should my characters do in order to get there?
Which direction do I want this to go?
How can I make it work with the rest of the plot line?
How do I get from point A to point B in my story?
These questions, among a couple others, usually work to get me past whatever made me come to a temporary halt.
I Listen to Music:
Maybe it’s just me, but music can add a lot to my writing. I use it in several different ways, besides just having it as a background soundtrack to my story. Often I’ll hear a song that really works with a certain scene through its lyrics, or music that is perfect for keeping the rising and falling action exciting and intense.
I Talk with Friends or Family Members:
There are times when I feel especially lost in a certain area. Maybe a character is acting up or I’m drowning in descriptions but completely dry of plot, among other writer issues. This is when I find someone to talk to, either an online buddy or a friend from church or family member.
It can be so helpful to get out pent up problems by talking to someone about them. Sometimes, I just need a fresh mind to take a look at my work or a set of willing ears to listen to the wrinkles and help me smooth them out. There’s no way an author can get a book perfect without a lot of assistance from people they trust.
Countless times I’ve been inspired by a conversation with someone, whether for a scene, for a character, or even for an entire plot line. Never underestimate the imaginations of fellow human beings.
I Go to Pinterest:
Don’t laugh. Pinterest gets a lot of flack from people, and I can understand where they’re coming from…I myself have wasted countless hours on there that I will never get back.
However, I’ve found Pinterest to be helpful too. I’ve had my writing juices set on fire many times by character pictures, setting ideas, and dialogue and story prompts.
Yes, it can be time consuming and even wasteful of time I could have spent writing…but in the end, I think it balances out and is worth a try.
I Read Helpful Blogs:
I have a few blogs by fellow writers that I follow and read on a regular basis. Often these authors have gone through what I’m going through and have helpful insights, tips, and tricks to get me back on track and writing again.
It’s always nice to know that I’m not the only writer out there that has struggles.There are a lot of people out there who have gone through writer’s block, loss of inspiration, procrastination, etc. They all have tips on how they got over the various roadblocks in their writing. I promise you’ll come away both encouraged and inspired.
I Read Books:
Sometimes, there’s nothing as inspiring as sitting down and reading a good book. We all have our favorite authors, our favorite writing styles to read, and our favorite time periods to read about. We write what we love, we read what we love…see the connection? Not all copying is bad. (As long as you don’t break the law, of course.) If you know what you love, do that. Then you’ll never fail to want to write more.
I Take Breaks:
Ok, so this sounds counterintuitive. Stop writing in order to be inspired? Well, not exactly. Hear me out.
It is possible to write too much. It’s true. If you force yourself to continue writing when you don’t feel like it, your story is going to end up sounding really dry and boring. Trust me, I know. If your story doesn’t have drive behind it, it will end up falling flat.
There’s a time to keep writing, and there’s a time to step back and reevaluate your life. That’s almost a Biblical principal.
I Write Other Stories:
Most authors can relate to me when I say that I usually have five to ten stories going at once. Often times more, sometimes less. If I hit a wall in the one I’m currently working on, I switch to a different one.
While that might sound confusing, it has helped me lots of times. Occasionally, I finish an entire different story while waiting for inspiration for the one I’m supposed to be working on…but at least my time isn’t being put to waste, right?
Like I said before, every author is different when it comes to finding inspiration. As you can see, there are so many ways you could get inspired. Now it’s up to you to find a way. You will, but it might take some time. Thankfully, you have time. So relax and enjoy the writing process instead of stressing over your lack of inspiration.
NEXT "LIFE OF AN AUTHOR" SUBJECT: GETTING STARTED