“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” —Robert Frost
Let’s get something out of the way: writers do not need to feel inspired before they sit down to write. Or perhaps I should say that professional writers are sufficiently afraid of not being able to pay rent that they’re able to conjure up inspiration. As Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
Today, I would like to discuss what inspires me, what motivates me to write, and it turns out to be a long list. So, in no particular order:
I think the best writing is emotionally evocative, causing the reader to feel fear, hate, loss, sadness, happiness, joy or regret.
What was a low time in your life? A dark hour? Think of it, concentrate on that memory. Slip into it. What were you feeling? Thinking? At the time, were you thinking clearly? How did your emotions change over time? Why did your emotions change? Did someone help you through your trauma or did you get through it in spite of those around you?
Now think of a character. It could be one that you have created; for instance, it could be the protagonist from your work in progress. It could also be a character from your favorite movie or TV show. Make that character an actor in your traumatic situation. Perhaps they can take on the role of one of the other people in your memory. Maybe they become you.
Now ask yourself, how would this have changed the situation? What would this character do differently? What would the new ending be, or would everything have turned out the same, regardless?
This is one way to take your raw emotions and weave them into a fictionalized environment, merging the unique, the painfully personal, and the general archetypal kinds of life events we’ve all suffered through. (For example, finding out that someone you love more than life doesn’t feel the same way about you.)
Repeat the exercise we just did (Past Trauma) but now do it with a wonderful memory rather than a traumatic one. Think of a wonderful time of your life. Think of an event at which you were giddily, all-consumingly, happy. Close your eyes and slip into the memory.
How did your body feel? Were you outside or inside? Was it sunny out? Rainy? Who was with you? Why were you so happy? How did the people you were with (if any) respond to your happiness? Were they happy you were happy or were they jealous? How did the event end?
If you could go back in time and relive the event again, would you do anything differently? How would the character from your WIP react if put in exactly the same situation?
I love writing prompts! A good prompt—or perhaps just one suited to my particular creative temperament—can conjure up a strange new world.
I used to publish a new writing prompt every day. Just today I began corralling those into a Google+ collection imaginatively entitled, “Writing Prompts.” ;-) I plan to, one day, have all my writing prompts there. I find they’re a great way to kick-start my day.
I don’t have space to go into all of these in depth, but here is a list of possible sources of inspiration:
Friends and Family
A Writing Journal
Google Maps, Street View
Movies and TV
These are just a few of the ways I get inspiration. I would be really interested to hear how you find inspiration to write. What sort of things do you think about, what kind of things feed your soul?
Thanks it for today! Good writing and talk to you again on Monday.