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Creative Writing: How To Stay Inspired As A Writer
As an aspiring writer, I find keeping inspiration and the drive to write more difficult than the actual writing itself. More painstaking than the correct usage of grammar, plot-doctoring, and bits and bobs of the novel-writing game. Many writers call it their muse, conscience, or whathaveyou but regardless of what you see it as -- it is all the same thing.
And it does take many forms. It might be right in front of you and you don't even realize it.
I've had recent bouts of it recently, so much that I've finished my first book and I'm working on the sequel. Here are some ideas that helped me through the process. I hope they can help you in your noble journey through the writing world.
Ready to lasso that inspiration? Here we go!
Read Your Other Writings -- Whenever I hit a bump in the road, I read my other stories. I have it all sitting in it's own folder I've dubbed 'Writing Vault'. I have tons of stories I've started and haven't finished, beginnings or endings to short stories, a whole mish mosh of ideas and notes for future work... you might think reading over attempts at other stories can be depressing, but for me, it's super fun and if I'm feeling up to it, I'll continue adding to one just to get the juices flowing for the day. You can also:
--Edit/write something else (this is debatable, some say that to edit is not going forward at all, but I think if you're editing a different story, it's okay)
--Read the first chapter of a random story. Think about the characters. Read another first chapter. And another, then compare and contrast those characters to your current main writing.
--Start a new story. It might feel like the wrong thing to do, and for some that might be true, but when I've put myself in a different boat, sailing for a different horizon of new possibilities it REALLY gets the spark er.. sparking, and before I know it, I long to be in the familiar waters of my main story.
Read a Favorite Book (or any new book) -- It's a truism. To be a great writer, you have to read, read, read. Read everything, from your favorite books to something new and different. Pick up something you'd never dream to read and well, read it. Flip through the newspapers, online articles, and lastly, pick up a cherished book and while reading, think: what makes me love this book so much? What makes it so darn special? What makes it so darn good? Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Watership Down, are among my favorite books. Are they the same genre? Definitely not. Harry Potter is a children's fantasy, a series that I grew up with along with the characters. The Hunger Games is about a revolution of the oppressed, the downfall of 'perfection', and the fight for the liberty of every living person. Watership Down is about a rag-tag band of rabbits who flee their homeland for a mysterious and possibly perilous future. What is it about these books that inspire me so much? We are all different, and maybe a warren of talking rabbits vs the dangerous world isn't interesting or inspiring to you, but to me, it just is. Get to the bare bones of your favorite book, what is so great about it? There, you'll find inspiration, or at the very least, a wonderful read.
Treat Yourself to Tea, Hot Chocolate, Coffee, etc -- I often drink tea or hot cocoa, or something warm and delicious while I write. The warmth, the comfort, it's just a necessity to me as I type away.. and maybe there isn't inspiration in that per se, but it does help with the writing process. It greases the wheels, keeps my brain on and keeps it from turning into complete mush, and holy crap it's delicious! You really can't go wrong with tea or hot cocoa. Pick your poison, although I'd advise against anything actually poisonous... :P
Clearing Your Mind With... -- How about going for a walk? A run? A bicycle ride? Heck, even taking a shower has saved me from the doldrums of lack of inspiration blues. Taking a shower is probably at the top, it definitely clears the head and the hot water is just... so... relaxing. I'm one of those walkers who is paranoid of the loose rabid dog, so sometimes it can be a bit anxious for me.. ha, but I never walk without my dog Desoto, who is a wonderful companion, and though he doesn't realize it, he helps me too by just being his cute self.
The opposite would be...
Busy Your Mind With Something Else -- And sometimes, busying your brains with something else can be quite the help. Do the dishes. Vacuum the carpets. Sweep and mop the floor. Wash your car. Clean out your garage. Organize your closet, your drawers, mow the lawn, so on and so forth. If I've been writing and hit a snag, sometimes I'll just stop and go do some chore that I really despise. Nothing makes you want to go back to writing more than something you loathe doing. Maybe that seems like cheating your muse, but hey, we all can't do everything on *their* time. You need to call the shots sometimes, too.
Join A Writing Forum -- It's odd, but when you're reading the same struggles of fellow writers, it can really put you in a good writing mood. We *all* face the same struggles, the same dangers, and the same pitfalls. Writing doesn't have to be a solitary endeavour. You can share your desires, your fears, with other writers who are traversing down the same path. NaNoWriMo is AMAZING. I recommend it. NaNoWriMo stands for 'National November Writing Month' - where all writers try to finish a novel in the month of November. However, the forums are open 24/7 365 days a year with several different topics on writing, and of course, forums for non-writing as well. They're very helpful, very sincere, and best of all, writers just like you.
Read Blogs/Author Sites That Inspire You -- Although I'm not into every author and their writing/books, the great thing is I don't *have* to be. What does fascinate me and has me captivated, are their blogs; what they write about, their take on things, and how they got there. I have the utmost respect them and for what they do. While their writing might not be my flavor of tea, their sage advice, their blogs, are a goldmine of widsom. Think to yourself: "That could be me, if I really put myself into it." Immerse yourself. Do not envy the successful. They were once where you are now, and that token of wisdom is what really gets me through the writing slumps. Read their thoughts. Read what they go through, what they've been through. Take it all in, and heck, if you're willing, create your own blog. You'll want to remember the downs the rollercoaster takes you when it rockets you up, up, up and away.
Let a Friend or Family Member Read Your Writing -- Okay, so maybe they'll only praise your story and tell you good things and none of the bad, but in the beginning, that's what you need. Especially when you're in an inspiration crisis. You need the good feelings, the feel-goodness of praise. Just don't forget: no story is perfect right off the fingertips, and yours is only a draft. When a third party reads your writing, their words might not be so nice. But my fellow lovely writer, every book goes through drastic changes and edits, and I'm going to tell you right now, every first draft bites the big one. Hey, don't let it get you down, guess what? EVERY first draft sucks. It's a fact. I specifically saved the very first draft of my book just to go back and read how god-awful it was compared to the current edit I have now. It makes me chuckle, and moreso, it makes me joyous, because I see the improvements I've made, how much I've grown as a writer, and how good the fresh draft is. I'll even read the stuff I wrote in high school... *giggle* and even if I suck majorly in that first draft, those sucky firsts are greater than the finalized stories of my high school days. Seriously! Every time you sit down and write, you improve. That's something to smile about.
Music! Music! Music! -- Listen to music. Create your own soundtrack for your story and listen to it. Making your very own soundtrack can be very, very lucrative in inspiration. I created a HUGE soundtrack for my current book, it had probably 100 or so songs on it, but I figure the more music, the better. It can get annoying listening to the same songs over and over (unless you REALLY love the songs), so that particular soundtrack while much too big for commercial purposes, really suited my needs. If making a soundtrack to your book isn't for you, you can listen to your favorite kind of music, whether that be pop, jazz, showtunes, or polka. Whatever inspires you. By the way, have you ever really listened to Disney music? No, I'm not talking about the sugary songs with lyrics about being someone's guest, or kissing a girl, but the *background* music. When Disney was the magical force it used to be, my God, their instrumentals were amazing because they used full orchestras, and the music really brought out the story in a movie that could've been pinned as just a trivial children's cartoon. Listen to the instrumentals. They are beautiful, and some tragic and haunting, and delightfully inspirational.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVYU6qNuKTw Close your eyes, and just listen. Beautiful, no?
Write a Hub -- Hey, why else would I be here? :) It's helping. I'm focused, writing, and enjoying it, and I can't wait to get back to my story.
So writers and authors, who have trouble with inspiration, I hope this hub was of some help to you. Keep writing, keep reading, and I wish you all the very best!