The saying goes, “10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.” Anyone who has sat down to write more than a page about something and make it meaningful knows it takes a lot of work. Maybe some perspiration if the air conditioning is out. But, it does have to start somewhere and that is where inspiration comes in. Some people make lite of the inspiration, but really it is the foundation to everything, especially in the case of writing.
I believe the job of inspiration is not done once we have an idea and run with it. Inspiration keeps us running. Those dark times when we think everything we write is horrible and no one wants to read it, inspiration is there to pick us up and move us along. My question is where does all this inspiration come from? I have some thoughts as to where the inspiration comes from, but the question actually stumped me when I thought about my own inspiration.
Inspiration for Ideas
The most obvious way we find inspiration for our ideas is all around us. Everything we see, hear, smell, touch, and feel emotionally will inspire us. Think about what is around you. Have you ever written a scene where a character breaks an arm? When you described the pain, did it come from when you have been hurt? Have you written about a special kiss? I am willing to bet your description did not come from some video.
Of course it is not enough for us to wait around for life to give us our next great line for a story. We need to mine through all kinds of different materials to find inspiration. The first place I am going to say we need to dig through are books. I talked about this in an earlier posting, but it does not hurt to say it again. Books are going to be the best tools we have to learn to write. In this instance you might read about how a werewolf tracked down a deer and leaped at the prey for the final kill. Reading that scene will teach you how to describe everything that happened. But, books are not the end all for inspiration. We have movies, music, and dreams. I personally love reading manga and watching anime. I get all kinds of great ideas. It is because of anime, I have been inspired that the good guys do not always win.
All of these different ways to find inspiration and ideas for stories has all led to a rule I was taught; “Write what you know.” Does this mean you need to put your entire life into your story? No. You take little pieces here and there and slip them in. I had a job where I spent eight hours a day living in a cubicle and dealing with unhappy people. This was great material that I used in the beginning of my story “Pain & Paranoia.” I have been told by readers they really feel like they are sitting in the cubicle with me. This rule also means do not write about stuff you do not know. If you live in a little town in Idaho, then do not set your story in New York. Your readers are going to know if you have ever been to New York or not. This also means you need to research your topic. I grew up around San Francisco, but that was a long time ago. A story I am working on right now takes place in San Francisco. I have been studying street maps and Googling businesses and looking at pictures, so I can remember and have a more convincing story.
Inspiration to Motivate Us
The most obvious motivation for all of us is we want our stories to be read. After all, what is the point of writing if we never let anyone read our stuff? Also, we want to be paid for our writing. It is completely awesome if we can write full time and earn enough money to pay our bills from our stories. These are the things that everyone wants, so let’s put those motivations aside and look at some more original and maybe personal inspirations that keep us writing. This is something you will have to take time and discover on your own. No one can give you your motivation. The only thing I can suggest about your personal inspiration is it has to be able to carry you and up lift you when you get tired and want to give up. For this posting I actually was stumped as to what my personal inspiration was. I realized I have several things I turn to that help motivate me to keep writing. The first one is a high school friend. He was loved by everyone. He knew how to enjoy life and do what he loved. He passed away a few years ago. His life has inspired me to do the things I want to do. Is there someone in your life that you look up to?
I have several quotes pinned to the wall above my desk. These quotes I have read in books, I have heard them in songs, and seen them in movies. I think an appropriate one is, “You can’t become, if you only say what you would’ve done.” It’s not good enough to say you are a writer. You have to do a lot of writing. Maybe you have a quote that moves you? I love listening to music while I write. I hear lyrics that make me feel good, so I’ll download that song. One of my favorites right now is “Home” by Phillip Phillips. It reminds me the best place to be is at home where I have friends and family. Another favorite is “F***ing Perfect” by Pink. This song helps me to remember to be accepting of myself the way I am. One trick I do try to pull off with my music is to set a mood for the scene I am writing. If the scene is all action I listen to hard rock. Then back off to some smooth Jazz when writing a love scene.
Some people say writing is a good way to get something off your chest. I have to agree. Writing has helped me to express some difficult feelings. Things that I normally am not comfortable talking about. The last inspiration I have for my writing is escapism. When you read you are able to escape this world and your troubles for a while. The problem is you are escaping to a world someone else created. With writing, you can escape to a world that you create and is filled with characters you know and love. What you write is your adventure with your characters.
Inspiration comes in many forms and from all kinds of places. I am sorry I cannot say go here and do this and you will be inspired. Inspiration is going to be different for each person and it is going to be personal for each of you. What inspires you one day may do nothing for you the next day and you will have to find new inspiration. So, what inspires you today? I would love to hear your stories of inspiration and motivation.
Inspiration by Felolira @ deviantart.com
Music is My Stress Reliever by Mersof Gali Phormez
Escapism by YaminHikari009 @ deviantart.com