On Waiting for Inspiration

Posted November 17, 2010 in Creative Writing / 0 Comments

If you’re a writer (or any other kind of creative artist) you will understand the importance of inspiration. Without being inspired it is difficult to write or make something that isn’t completely drab and awful. But there are times when we can’t wait for inspiration to strike, like when we have a deadline to meet or we have to meet our word goal for NaNoWriMo. The truth is, if you sit around waiting for your muse to appear, it will probably never happen. It’s like the ‘tomorrow never comes’ saying. If you keep putting off your work until you have the creative urge it will just never get done.

Professional writers know this, and they treat their writing as they would a normal job. They will set themselves regular working hours and will sit down to write come rain or shine, whether they feel inspired or not. You may think that’s taking the heart out of writing and making it into some kind of cold, mechanical process, but it’s the kind of attitude you have to take if you want your work published.

Instead of waiting for inspiration, you have to seek it out. For example, next time you are at home trying to think of new ideas, try going out and taking a journal with you to record interesting ideas. Take a walk in beautiful surroundings or explore parts of your town you’ve never been to, buildings with unusual architecture or history behind them. Go to the beach or take a boat ride down a river, walk through a forest on your own, visit an art gallery or museum or sit in a cafe and people watch, inventing stories about the people or places you see.

If getting out and about is difficult, you can find inspiration by reading books and interesting magazines, watching thought-provoking television programs or listening to music. Newspapers and online news archives provide a wealth of interesting story ideas. Sometimes true events are actually stranger than fiction and can give you great ideas. For example, Megan McCafferty, author of Bumped was inspired by the news story about the Glouchester high school where girls made a pregnancy pact.

So that’s basically my advice for this week. If you’re not inspired, go out and get inspired! Check out my tips for beating writer’s block for more ideas.

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