December 8, 2011 by jcfarnham
Inspiration is a very odd thing. Sometimes it comes out of no where, sometimes you can work yourself inspired, but at the end of the day, all you need to do is to know where to look for inspiration … and subsequently how to pull something useful from it (which I’ll admit is probably the hardest part).
Take the past week for example. I’d pretty much given up. I’d resigned myself to the tried and true writing technique of: Waiting and seeing what happened. When apparently all I had to do was tell close friends and family I was struggling.
As a writer (though I don’t know how many people I can speak for) we often find ourselves stuck in a little bubble, as if writing is something you do alone, something that no one will ever see or have any input in to – until of course you start looking for feedback – but it really is quite surprising how creative some people can be, and how useful just one little pleasant discussion can be. Case in point: A number of people I know are more than happy to start offering their opinions if you let them. It would be very easy to block them out and tell yourself that what they’re saingy has no baring on your story, because, in all probability, they’ve never read it and probably won’t (or maybe they will, who knows haha). The trick is to bend that discussion to your needs.
In addition to my NaNovel I’m in the process of writing an Urban Fantasy (and when I say that, I don’t mean paranormal romance – I mean, why are those two even considered the same thing these days?). For a while now I’ve had characters, a couple of settings and the rules worked out in fair detail, but no plot to speak of. It was only when I was talking to my girlfriend, about the kind of things we each enjoy in a good fantasy novel, that I hit upon that missing piece. The “Catalyst”: you know, that one character, or object, or event, that throws story into motion. In my case, a character who turns up on my Main Character’s doorstep, bleeding profusely. Of course, as is normal for Urban Fantasy, there is more to said character than meets the eye. I also pulled from that conversation a vague plot idea. So although I have no idea YET where I’m going, I knocked out a chapter in one sitting, 2,400 words in a couple of hours. All from the opinions of others during a conversation nearly completely unrelated to my UF book.
It’s funny how inspiration works, is it ^_^
I’ve come to realise that inspiration isn’t something you get at any one moment, and very rarely is it a fully formed idea ready to be slotted into a story. I’ve essentially distilled inspiration into a collection of things that are ‘quite interesting’. If something catches my eye it goes in an Evernote. I’ve known some people to keep a tumblr for exactly this reason. No reason why you couldn’t use a more traditional blog for this purpose too 😉
I don’t know where I got the idea that inspiration would always be there at hand went you sit down to right, but it just isn’t. This is one of the things I agree with Orson Scott Card on. more often than not, I’ve found myself happily writing and suddenly hitting a dead end. While I could delete that story I don’t, I file it away. Eventually I’ll file something interesting away in my Evernote folders that fits perfectly with that dead end idea, might be a facet I never realised a character had, or a aesthetic, or … anything really.
One fully formed idea from two half arse ones. Try it. It might put a new spin on a idea you thought might never get off the ground.
My point is this: Never. Ignore. Anything. Even if it doesn’t seem like inspiration at first, note it down if it interests you. After that, just leave it for a few days. At some point everything will just click in to place.