Inspiration 101

So, as you can see, I’ve been . . . how do you say it . . . M.I.A. for a few weeks. Yeah, sue me. No, really though, I’ve been meaning to write, but these past few weeks have been trying my nerves. Deciding to study in Rome was a huge decision and I wasn’t quite sure of it even at the moment I arrived (lack of sleep and sweltering heat might have helped with that). So, let’s just say that most of the energy I would have used for writing was being guzzled up by anxiety, terror, excitement, and various other emotions all bundled up into a little exploding ball of crazy.

Phew. So, that’s why the writing has been lacking. It’s hard to feel inspired when you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But, now that I’m in Rome, happy about it, and feeling much calmer, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ways to get inspired and beat the evil beastie known as Writer’s Block.

  1. Listen to Music: By know, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, duh, I could have told you that.” But we’re not just talking any music here. The chicken dance is probably not going to inspire the next great novel. When you’re blocked, you need music that awakens strong emotions, because you can draw on these to write. So pick songs that make you feel electrically sad or happy or even scared. Pick songs that tell stories and think how they would translate into prose. Pick songs from your favorite movie soundtracks that have you thinking of plot. Then, listen to them and brainstorm. Just write down everything you think or feel. Something will catch.
  2. Take a Walk: Proven fact: exercise is good for your brain. All those endorphins will have you feeling happy and cut through any frustration clouding your brain. Plus, the scenery and sights you stumble upon along the way can spark great stories. Even something small may inspire you. So, pick a route that is scenic and interesting and just go wander for a while. Look carefully at what you pass. Look at people and what they’re doing and ask yourself, who are there? Where are they going? What are their life stories? Bring a pen with you in case you get a great idea!
  3. Look at a Plot: Pick one of your favorite books. Now, grab Wikipedia and your brain and go through the plot, looking at key events and turning points. Pick a major turning point and think to yourself, what would happen if this turning point happened in another way? What if Frodo and Sam never met Gollum? What if the poison Romeo bought was fake? Or look at characters. What if Harry Potter was more like Draco Malfoy, but with the same prophecy? What if Macbeth was a stupid brute? Looking at someo of these “What ifs” can inspire new story ideas.
  4. Write ahead: Already working on a story or novel? Let me guess. You hit a scene that’s just sort of filler or that you haven’t planned out and you have no interest in writing it, or you have no inspiration how. You want to work on the scene where the guy finally kisses the girl, or where the team of random adventurers encounters the nefarious villain, not your sultry heroine having a tough and plot-relevant day at the office or the adventurers getting stuck, yet again, in a bit of trouble. So, do it! Write the fun scenes! Sometimes, what you need to do to spike your interest in the rest of your plot is to get back into the story. Work on a scene that does inspire you, and then your creative powers will be activate and you can channel them into that tricky scene.
  5. Just write!: Nothing works? Still blocked? Then stop trying to pen perfect prose and just write. Something. Anything. Find a random writing prompt and write it out. Go to the last bit of your story and continue it. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect. It will probably be clunky, repetitive, and rough. That’s okay. You can edit later. But if you just muscle through it now, it will get your brain thinking about writing and, eventually, you’ll hit your stride and the words will come easily.

Well, writers, there’s your plan. Now go and write! (Says the hypocrite, I know, I know. But don’t you follow my bad habits. (: )

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