Inspiration! Does It Strike You?

Welcome!  Another question today.  My Minion (Joel Rede) asked me “What inspires you?”  Well, is “everything” an acceptable answer?  At least that’s the immediate answer that usually pops into my head.  However, the more I think about it, the more I go off on a tangent.  More often than not, I’m inspired by a multitude of things all playing off of each other, but sometimes I’m not feeling inspired at all.  So, while I’m going to talk about sources of inspiration for me, I’m also going to address what I do when nothing is striking me.

InspirationI’m easily inspired (it’s awesome, but it’s also a curse because I have SO MANY unwritten or forgotten stories).  I’d say that music has the biggest impact on my writing topics.  Sometimes, it’s a whole song that catches my attention.  A lot of the time, it’s a single line or even just a word that piques my curiosity.  I’ve written a screenplay based on a song, and I’ve written short stories that were inspired by a verse or less.  The mood of whatever music I listen to also has its fair share of influence on my writing.  It’s just one of those things.

Another source of inspiration is people.  I’m a people watcher.  If I’m obviously staring at you, chances are that you’re not even on my radar, but that guy arguing with a tree (or someone hidden by the tree) behind you definitely has my attention.  C’mon.  Who doesn’t want to know why the guy is yelling at the tree nymph?  Scenes like that, ones that probably have a completely reasonable explanation, are the best things ever!  Combine them with snippets of overheard conversations, and you’re golden.  It’s especially amusing if you’re somewhere like an anime convention where you have a lumberjack-looking guy dressed as Sailor Moon flirting with a furry.  I couldn’t make this stuff up.

There are, not they are. Yes, I correct grammar on the Interwebz.

The world is full of inspiration if you’re open to it, but what about the days it fails you?  I write anyway.  I’m not a believer in writing only when inspiration strikes, because frankly (and I’ve said this before), the muse is a fickle bitch.  If you wait for her, you’ll never get anything done.  Yeah, you might get 5000 words written one day, but then you’ll hit a month long dry spell.  What’s the good in that?  On the other hand, I don’t advocate writing every single day, so if you’re consistently inspired five days out of the week, go ahead and take those other two days off guilt free.

If you’re like me, and some days the words just won’t come, write them anyway.  It usually happens when I’m between big projects or I’ve hit a spot that I haven’t quite decided how to work my way through.  On those days, I free write.  I let my mind go blank, then write whatever pops into it.  A lot of the time, I just end up writing a three page rant about why writing/certain characters/plotting/whatever sucks.  Sometimes, a sentence will pop into my head and lead to a three page description of a new story or novel.  So, even free writing can lead to inspiration!

Hand with Reflecting Sphere
M. C. Escher

 In other words, whether you find inspiration in music or people or art (another big one for me) or in nothing at all, keep creating.  Maybe one day, you’ll be the one inspiring people.  Maybe you already are and just don’t know it.  Keep it up!

Bridging the Gap: Moving from Piece to Piece

Hello there!  I was going to do another food blog this week, but I think I’ll save it for next week.  Since I recently sent my novel out to readers for feedback, I’ve forbidden myself from even looking at it (it’s not fair to my readers if I change things before they have a chance to critique what I’ve sent), so I’m trying to work on a collection of fairytale retellings.  Trying being the operative word.  So, I want to talk a little about shifting gears for new pieces.

Back when all I wrote were short stories, I had very little problem switching to a new project, but things have changed.  I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve spent so long in my novel’s world or what, but this is basically the most terrifying thing in my world right now.

A wild blank page appeared!

Yes, a blank page.  I have ideas galore, but when I see this, they all up and run away on me.  I can’t be the only one with this problem, right?  So, how do you deal with it?  (Legit asking because I’m still trying to figure it out.)  Also, why is it so scary when you have a plethora of ideas to work on?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit down and let the ideas duke it out as I stare at the page (that’s even scarier), I pick one and sit down with the intention of focusing on it.  It’s a very confusing time for me.

I’ve tried a couple of tactics to combat the blank mind as well as the blank page.  The first thing was to take a day away from writing.  Normally, a day without writing is enough to recharge and start building new stories in my head, but the blank page prevailed.  My second go-to plan is to suck it up and push through it.  So far, this has gotten me 1500 words over three days (no, that’s not good!).  It’s like pulling teeth to get the words out, and it’s getting harder instead of easier.

Them feels, though.

Don’t worry.  I didn’t come here just to complain, I came to share tactics for moving on.  The ones above just didn’t work for me this time.  Next up, after I force my way through the current story of doom, if I’m still having issues, I’ll revert to free writing and using writing prompts until jumping around feels natural again (plus, I’ll get new story ideas if I’m lucky).  The only reason I didn’t try this first is because I’m not a fan of aimless writing.  It feels like I’m wasting time, even though I know that’s not the case.  In other words, even if you’re like me and think everything should work towards something, but you’re struggling, try the aimless course.  No pressure words tend to flow easier.  Use it to your advantage.  And bonus: you get new story ideas!

Another thing…  Part of me wonders if it would be easier to start something new if it was in the same world as the last, like a sequel or something.  I suppose I’ll find out one day.  Enough about me, what about you?  What are your tactics for switching between projects?  Feel free to share!