August 12, 2013

Kill Your Blank Pages: Inspiration

Gru: "Liiiiiigh bulllb..."
Hey everyone, I'm back! Sorry about the long wait (although I probably have like one reader, so it doesn't really matter, does it?). Here's part six of my series, KILL YOUR BLANK PAGES: A TEN-PART SERIES ON WRITER'S BLOCK.

Have you ever perused the “Books and Authors” section of the Yahoo Answers website? The amount of questions begging for inspiration help is almost unbelievable! “What should I write a story about?” “Help me come up with ideas for my story!” “Help! I’m stuck! What should happen next?”

Without a doubt, lack of inspiration is one of the leading causes of writer’s block. After all, if you don’t know what to write about or you don’t feel like writing, how can you even begin to fill a page?

There seem to be two kinds of inspiration. There is the kind of inspiration necessary to story invention, which I’ll call “brainstorming.” This involves coming up with plots, characters, story elements, etcetera. There is also the kind of inspiration that motivates us to write. I will call it “passion,” the desire to create, leading us to actually sit down and pound the keyboard.

Since it’s pretty obvious whether you’re struggling with brainstorming or passion, I’ll get right to business and show you some methods for tackling each problem.

Unleash Your Creativity

--Experience new things. Learn. Take in fresh information! What comes in must come out, and vice versa. Read a new book, watch a new movie. Travel to a place you’ve never been before, even if it’s just that hiking trail down the road you haven’t walked before.

--Be creative in other ways. Try painting or drawing your characters or a scene. Build a model of some important item in your book. Or make something totally unrelated, like DIY decorations for your room. What about reconstructing an old piece of clothing?

--Don’t be afraid of developing a new skill/hobby. The mind loves a challenge, and maybe what you learn will inspire you in your story. So you just learned martial arts, huh? Maybe your MC is good at hand-to-hand like you, and his skills are the key to that impossible scene you’ve been working on for weeks.

--Analyze analyze analyze! I can’t tell you how useful it is to know what is going on in the world and why things happen the way they do. Absorb the news of the day, from local to international, and study it in-depth. Try BBC news online—their reporting is usually unbiased, and full of fascinating facts and analysis. I will eventually write a post on this, so stay tuned for more reasons that being a good news reader à being a good writer (ESPECIALLY if you write fiction).

Awaken Your Passion

--Arouse your emotions. Dig up that frustrating memory you haven’t thought about in a while. Recall that horribly embarrassing situation that you tried to forget. Watch that movie that always makes you cry! Then study why you feel the way you feel. This can inspire your novel as you attempt to recreate those same feelings for your own readers.

--Get in touch with your priorities and find something you care about. What principal or idea or person or thing do you care about more than anything else in the world? What would you die without? Put it in your story. Now.

Inspiratorial Tutorial

--Listen to music while you write! Create a playlist for each type of scene in your book—the anxious ones, the romantic ones, the adventurous ones, the terrifying ones. Even if you play the music so softly you can barely hear it, it will definitely help you to focus on your story and inspire you to write like the music sounds. Personally, I like movie soundtracks because the mood-setting is built in. :)

--Stay healthy, in mind, body, and spirit. I’ll be talking about each of these later, but depression, sickness, stress, unfitness, exhaustion and other negative conditions can greatly affect your ability to be inspired. These problems steal energy away from the creative parts of your brain. Whenever I feel my energy draining away, I stop forcing myself to write and focus on solving my ailment.

--Give it time. As I have mentioned before and will certainly mention again, writer’s block isn’t always something you can get rid of instantly. It may take time. Don’t waste energy being frustrated by it. Give your muse a break. It will come when it’s ready, and, like a relative you haven’t seen in a while, it will surprise you with the amount of gifts it brings. :)

Hopefully, some of these suggestions will help you. I could have listed dozens more, but most are covered in the more specific topics of this series. If you know which specific aspect of your novel you are having trouble being inspired about (plot? setting? character?) check out the relevant post.

Next week we’ll move on to talk about a powerful but underestimated tool for defeating writer’s block. Don’t miss part eight of KILL YOUR BLANK PAGES: A TEN-PART SERIES ON WRITER’S BLOCK.

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