Part 2: Kick-Starting Your Inspiration
Last month we talked about every writer having a place to write that helps to put them in a writing frame of mind. But say you’ve already got a place to write. You’ve even got the time to write. Still, maybe, you’ve been making excuses. Maybe you just can’t seem to put your seat on the chair and start putting words down. Or maybe the words just aren’t there.
I have a great idea for a book. I’m going to write it. But I have to admit, even though the idea has been lurking in my mind for two years, I’m having a hard time forming the opening and getting into gear to write it down. In fact, I’m writing just about everything but that book!
But I know that eventually it will happen, and I can help to make it happen, just by doing a few things to get my inspirational juices flowing.
First I’m going to start exploring some books for research. I’ll probably find tons more information than I can or even want to use. But reading about, say — railroads — will spur on some ideas. I just know it will.
Then I’ll start brainstorming some thoughts in a notebook. Most of them I’ll probably chuck later, but it’ll help get things moving forward.
Of course I’ll pray a lot! I’ll ask God to give me some ideas and themes that would be important to include. Whatever else I’m reading or listening to, whether it’s my devotions, a magazine article, a sermon, or whatever, I’ll be keeping myself tuned in to those themes God might be waiting to show me.
I’ll read books like the one I want to write. Not the same stories, of course. Just books written by authors who lean toward my voice and style. Coinciding with that, I’ll read some books about writing. No matter how far you go as a writer, you never stop learning. Reading what other writers say about writing is not only educational, but inspirational as well.
I’ll also journal. I’ll complain. I’ll mope. I’ll put all my twaddle in my journal. I’ll write written prayers there, too.
Ultimately, I’ll put down an opening paragraph, then another and another. I know that even if it stinks, it’ll at least get me moving forward. I can change the beginning later, after my characters and I get to know each other better.
Which reminds me–I’ll sometimes write a journal page in a character’s voice, or I’ll fill out pages telling all about them, their personalities, their likes and dislikes, their dreams and ambitions, their fears — everything.
Those are some of the things I do to get motivated. I don’t always do all of them. It depends on how stuck I am.
Exercise: Find ways to loosen your story. Here are some more techniques to try:
- Take a walk, a bubble bath, a bike ride. Pray and think about the story. Brainstorm with God, if you will. And while you’re at it, talk to yourself too. Convince yourself that you have to do this!
- Jot down all the ideas you have so far, even if they are unclear. Write out a scene that you can see, no matter where it is in the story. It’ll clear some of the mud out of your brain and you’ll start to get excited.
- Talk to someone about your story idea and ask for their ideas. Maybe they’ll inspire you with something.
- Read a story similar to what you like. Imagine how you’d have written it. Copy some pages that you really liked. See if that doesn’t help draw out your “voice”.
- If you’re writing about some other place or period of history than that in which you live, do a little research. It’s amazing the things you’ll discover that will make you say, “Cool!” and will spark your creative energy.
- Set aside a period of time, just one, for maybe an hour or two, that you are going to dedicate to writing. It’s so easy to let other things steal your time. You have to be willing to schedule writing in sometimes. Make a deal with yourself that this particular time or date is non-negotiable.
- Akin to the last technique is to set yourself a word count goal: “I am going to sit here and write until I have 1000 words written, no matter what. Even if they stink.” Don’t walk away and do something else until you’ve reached your goal.