Stuck for inspiration? So am I. All. The. Time. But just because we are out of ideas, doesn’t mean we should stop looking for new ways to find them. We’re eleven days into through April’s Camp NaNoWriMo,(More information on what that means HERE.) so, in honor of that, here are five ways I like to get inspired, from the one I do the least, to the one that never fails to get my creative juices flowing.
5. Observe: Anything can inspire a good story. Even random conversations or simple, everyday acts can be morphed into the craziest tale if given to the right writer. What about that cranky neighbor across the hall? Is she just a bitter old lady, or does she have something to hide? Take in everything you can. You’ll be amazed what hidden gems might pop up.
4. Read: This one probably seems obvious, but I feel like it needs to be said. Read everything you can get your hands on. Pick up an old favorite, or dust off that hardcover you kept meaning to read but never got the chance to. As we grow and change, so do the things that keep our interest; even in our favorite books. You may pick up on subtle details you never noticed before, or you might find that your demographic has changed completely from what it was when you first started writing. Reading is not only a great way to get inspired and figure out what you like, but it’s also a way to study your target audience. What’s lacking in the market? What have you seen so much of, that if you see it one more time, you’re going to throw the paper back across the room? (I’m looking at you, YA love triangles!)
These are all wonderful questions to ask in order to learn more about your writing style, the things that attract you to a book, as well as cliches you want to stay far, far away from.
3. Research: When I say research, I don’t just mean scour through the shelves of your local library or scroll through endless pages of books on Amazon while you gather all the necessary facts to write your next best-selling novel. Nope, when I say research I mean research anything you want. Do you like punk rock bands? Look up their history and how they started. Or what if you like to bake? Make three new recipes and chronicle your experiences. I, personally, have a real affinity for anything “behind the scenes. From red carpet premieres, to the making of a student film, to how they put the set together for my little sister’s school play. I love all of it. And the stories and ideas I get from watching or hearing about these things often shock even me. Find an interest and run with it. I bet you’ll be surprised what you can come up with.
2. Talk: One of my favorite ways to get inspired is to simply talk. I don’t know about you, but my family and friends have some pretty funny conversations, especially given that they know that I’m likely to take anything they say and put it in a book. You can talk about anything, even, and especially, the particular project that you’re stuck on. I find that it’s always immensely helpful to have another perspective. Even if the other person only knows the story based on what I’ve told them, they can often take things in an entirely different direction that I never would’ve seen. Sometimes, their suggestions work wonders, and sometimes they don’t. But they always, always, get my wheels turning.
1.Listen to Music: I would argue that if you listen closely, every song has a story. And not just the story the composer intended either. Blown Away by Carrie Underwood is a song about a girl whose mother died and whose father is a drunk. When a tornado comes, she takes shelter, but is unable to wake her passed out father to protect him. She wants the house to be destroyed in the storm, thinking it will give her freedom from her shitty life.
This is a pretty standard plot that anyone can get from listening to that song. But I was most curious about what happened after the tornado hit. Why was the father such a drunk? Had always been that way or was it the mother’s passing that caused him to drink? Did he survive the storm, or was it swept away with the rest of the house? What kind of life did the young girl lead after that? Did she get the freedom she always wanted? Was it worth it?
By looking a little deeper into a simple two-minute tune thousands of ideas can come to the surface.
Challenge of the Week: Get writing! Post a 100-500 word story in the comments, on my tumblr, Facebook page, or shabased on something that inspired you. I’ll do the same and share it with my normal Flash Fiction Fridays. Let’s see what gets everyone’s juices flowing!