Inspiration. I’ve used this word sparingly throughout my blogs so far but I’ve not really gone into any detail. ‘I’m waiting for inspiration to strike’ is a common phrase used by creative people, but you may be asking ‘what exactly is inspiration?’ and ‘why do I have to wait for it?’
Inspiration can be defined as when someone or something gives you an idea, or a sudden good idea, or someone who people admire. In my opinion, inspiration means when you get an idea and you work with it.
Sometimes you might not have a clue what you want to write, other times you may have some ideas but you need something extra to give those ideas a little push. Unfortunately, inspiration has been romanticized, people often imagine that you just have to sit, wait patiently, and then suddenly an amazing idea hits you from nowhere and you cry out ‘Eureka!’ Yes, sometimes this does happen but it is extremely rare. Inspiration for most of us is difficult, messy and time consuming. Authors do not just wake up one day, sit down and write an amazing first draft. In reality, the majority of bestselling books would have been based on a couple of ideas and a terrible first draft. This is normal. I can think back to my first draft for my book ‘Anomaly’ and it was nothing like the story I eventually wrote, even the characters’ names were different.
So, where do you look for inspiration? The answer is simple, inspiration can be found everywhere, you just need to open your mind to it. Sounds vague, right? Well what I mean is, you can draw inspiration from pretty much anything. I get most of my inspiration from reading books, looking at artwork on sites like Deviantart, listening to music, watching anime, television series and films. Sounds like the ideal lifestyle, but no, you can’t use this as an excuse to veg out in front of the screen everyday, you will never write anything if you do that.
The good news is, you don’t have to wait for inspiration to hit you. Here are some suggestions to help you nurture inspiration…
- People Watching
A well documented way writers seek inspiration is by sitting in a public space and literally watching the world go by. Train stations, parks and coffee houses are good places for this type of work. Take a notebook with you and write down anything that grabs your attention. It could be the way someone walks, an item of clothing, a person’s appearance or part of a conversation. The object is to figure out and record what has drawn you to that specific thing in the first place. You should also note down your feelings at the time too. Clearly this type of work needs to be handled delicately, people don’t tend to like it when you stare at them for too long, so try to be discrete and respectful.
- Keep a Diary
Keeping a diary is a good way to create a bank of information for later inspiration. If you do keep a diary don’t just note down the day’s events, write down how you feel and why. Also, if anything in particular during the day held your interest then describe it and your emotions, no matter how random it may seem. A diary is similar to the writer’s notebook but more personal to you, both can be extremely useful to look back over when you’re seeking inspiration.
- Talk to your Friends
If you have a particularly chatty friend who works in a hair salon, or if you work in a hair salon yourself then you have struck gold. Hairdressers are often told all sorts of stories by their customers, so if you can ask a hairdresser about their day you may learn something interesting. This holds true for a lot of jobs, particularly occupations where you have to deal with the general public.
- The Shoe Box Exercise
Another idea is a writing exercise that I’ve adapted from one of my old art classes. Take an empty box about the size of a shoe box, and then go around your house selecting several random items (anything that catches your eye), and put it in the box. You could pick up a pen, make-up, coins, jewellery, a pasta shell, an apple, a hairband, absolutely anything that snags your attention. Then sit down with your box filled with your items, and with your notebook, describe what you see. How do things look? What sort of colours are they? Are they soft or hard? Describe the items using positive adjectives and then negative adjectives. This may seem a little silly, but the idea is to get you to look at your items both together and individually, and to try and describe them in different ways. It may spark an idea, it may not, but either way keep what you write, it could be useful later.
- Retyping Passages from your Favourite Authors
Retyping passages from your favourite authors may sound tedious but in fact it can help to inspire you. Apparently this works, though I have yet to try it myself. Even if the act of typing out a passage from your favourite book doesn’t inspire you, it is good practice as you will subconsciously become aware of that author’s writing style.
- Anonymous Confession Sites
Anonymous confession sites are full of the funniest, saddest and darkest secrets. They are also great places to hunt for inspiration, though you have been warned, you might come across some disturbing confessions. Simply search ‘anonymous confessions’ in your browser and you should find thousands of results. Why are these places good for inspiration? Well, take a look at some confessions and whilst you are doing it, try and imagine the situation that person may be in and how they are feeling, write this down and then try analyzing the same confession but from a different angle. You may come up with a good idea for a novel based on somebody’s confession, or it might give you a new idea for a character.
- Travel Diary
If you can afford to take some time out and feel like traveling then do, take lots of pictures and keep a travel diary. Again this is similar to a normal diary, but the idea with traveling is to go and learn about different cultures. Talk to the locals, different countries often have different beliefs, stories and superstitions that may inspire your writing.
That’s it from me for today, I hope this blog will help you find inspiration. What do you think? Do you agree with my suggestions or do you have some suggestions of your own? I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave a comment below!
‘There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.’ – Albert Einstein