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Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Archive for the tag “Inspiration”

What to Do When You Lack Inspiration

What to Do When You Lack InspirationWriting is hard.

I believe that’s something we can all agree on. Though we all love it and would pick it over a thousand other things, occasionally there will be a time when your Inspiration Well runs dry.

That is a terrible time.

It’s not like simple writer’s block—oh, no. That is far better, far less detrimental to your writing. Writer’s block is merely a block— you can get past or around it. When you run out of inspiration, it simply isn’t there. 

This happens rarely for some authors, and more frequently for others. I am incredibly thankful that I’m a part of the first category, but even for me there has been times when I find myself entirely lacking inspiration.

This is a sticky problem to fix; you can’t just stroll to the grocery store and buy a package of inspiration. When you lack inspiration, you find it unnaturally difficult to find and acquire.

Recently, a good friend of mine asked me how I get inspiration. Unfortunately, I honestly don’t have a clue. I know how I occasionally look for inspiration on Pinterest, or I remember how inspiration is triggered by something someone said once, but I have no easy way of finding inspiration—which is unfortunately, for life would be much easier if I did.

Fortunately, I do know some ways to help refill your tank when you run dry. It’s not a way to find inspiration; but, rather, a way to plant yourself firmly on Inspiration Highway 22.

Stop writing. Sometimes deadlines force you to plow your way through a story even if you have no inspiration and no idea where it’s going. Hopefully, they won’t—you rarely come up with good material if you truly have no idea what to write. If you have any choice in the matter, decide to take a break from writing for a little while. Since you’ll mostly run out of inspiration when it comes time to start a new story, you should be able to find time to pause.

Walk around. Be active for a little while; drink water; keep your blood flowing and your mind processing things. Get away from your computer screen.

Read a book. Preferably one you’ve never read before, maybe even in a genre you don’t usually read. After you’ve read a full novel of this, you may go back to your favorite books and authors you know.

Watch a movie or a television show. I honestly don’t think it matters a bit what kind of movie you watch. I got an idea for a novel while listening to my younger brothers and sisters watch Veggie Tales: Robin Good and His Not-So-Merry-Men. If that can produce inspiration, anything can.

Stating it quite simply: relax. Let your mind relax for a little while and expose it to stories. It would be pretty remarkable if you didn’t pick up on some sort of inspiration.

 

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Guest Post by Jaye L. Knight

Good afternoon, readers. Today I have the pleasure of presenting to you a guest post by the author of of Resistance, the Makilien Trilogy, Where Do I Start, and others. Everyone, give a round of virtual applause for Jaye L. Knight!

Inspiration is the key to every story. How often do you just decide to write a story with not a single idea as to what it’s going to be about? Even if you did, your story would likely begin to take shape based on inspiration from some outside source, whether it be books, movies, or a personal experience. Fuel for stories is everywhere. Any little spark of inspiration can lead to the most amazing story ideas, especially when you mix a bunch of a little sparks together.

Because of this, I am always looking at and analyzing things with the mind of a writer—from everyday life to epic action films. You never know when something is going to ignite your imagination and bring a new character or adventure to life. Imagination is everything, but there are times where it can run a little dry, so I try to surround myself with inspiration. My room, for instance, is covered in an assortment of Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Sherlock, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other such posters. Why? Well, I love characters. To me, they’re the most important aspect of a story. I like to be surrounded by my favorite fictional characters to remind myself of what makes a great character.

Reading and movies/TV shows are also very important for keeping my imagination overflowing. Absorbing other writers’ techniques or watching an adventure unfold on the screen keeps my mind primed to tell my own stories and opens up a whole slew of new possibilities.

When you begin to see everything in light of a potential story it could contain, sometimes you end up with even more ideas than you know what to do with. I’ll never have time to write all the story ideas that float around in my head. But that doesn’t mean I dismiss them either. I always keep notes on the ideas that come to me. I have a document on my computer of all the bits of inspiration that really stick with me. They’ll never all become their own story, but you never know when you can take elements or characters from different ideas and combine them.

Once some of these ideas take hold and present me with a story that demands to be written, it comes time to develop it. Now, I’m not technically a plotter. I don’t have the patience or desire to write out detailed outlines before I actually begin a story, but I do need to know where the story is going. I have to know where it ends so I know what I’m aiming for. And even though I lean much more heavily toward being a pantser with my writing, I do like to know, at least most of, my major plot points. Then it’s like connecting the dots.

What I like to do when I’m developing a story is have a binder with different sections for planning. For years, this was always in a blue three-ring binder. Now I’ve sort of switched to digital and use OneNote, which I’ve come to love because it’s just like a digital binder. I usually have three main sections for planning—Notes, Scenes, and Information. In my Notes section, I write like I’m writing a journal. This is basically me talking to myself about the story and writing out what I see for it. It’s amazing how this opens up my imagination and helps me figure things out. Whenever something just doesn’t add up or make sense, if I write out my thoughts about it, chances are, a solution will present itself. This is how the whole story really comes together. The more notes I take, the better.

In my Scenes section, I write down any bits of dialog or future scenes I have in mind so I don’t forget them. Never trust yourself to remember something. Write it down, especially if you have a scene very clearly playing out in your head. Then all these scenes are like puzzle pieces that I work in as the story goes along.

In Information I record all the little details I have to make sure are consistent throughout the story. Things like distances, hair colors, eye colors, heights, etc. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to look back through everything you’ve already written to see what color eyes you gave someone. Having all these facts in one place really helps and saves time. And don’t forget a story calendar! This is vitally important (at least for me). I always write down each major scene on a calendar to make sure things happen when they should.

When I have a story I know is my next project, I usually start writing the first draft within a day or two, but the development of it continues right along with writing. I’m constantly taking notes about future scenes or plot points. This approach may not work for everyone, but every writer is different. I work best with the creative freedom of no set outline. Others need the structure and “road map” to get their story where it needs to go. Finding the right approach for you is essential to productivity. No approach is right or wrong. Only find the best for you. After all, it’s your own personal individuality that makes your story unique.

Jaye L. Knight is a 25 year old independent author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean NA fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope.

Jaye is a homeschool graduate and has been penning stories since the age of eight. She was previously published as Molly Evangeline.

You can find out more about Jaye and her books at these sites: Website | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter

 

Keep Reading

One piece of advice that people in the writing community will often hear is just write. Listen to music until your eardrums are gone, drink astronomical amounts of tea or coffee, and eat however much chocolate you can manage (and can afford! No exciting bit of writing research for a scene involving a police chase, please,) but whatever you do, don’t stop writing.

This is one of the best pieces of writing advice I have ever heard. Like people need to keep running or their running skills will rapidly degenerate, when a writer stops writing, they lose the skills they took the time to develop.

But while you’re writing, don’t forget where you first found your love of stories. Don’t forget to keep reading.

Symptoms of Lack of Reading in Writers

  • Readers find that characters in a new story seem strangely familiar. Could it be that they’re the same character with a different name?
  • Plot devices keep coming back. One might find a drought in one, and, a few years later in another story, another drought.
  • Authors find their inspiration draining away, and every word starts to feel like a rusty nail driven into them.
  • All complex story-lines and beautiful sentences mean nothing. The reader can tell that there’s something wrong with the story, even if they can’t seem to find what the problem is.

Recently, those in my family who read have been doing so nearly obsessively. For a while, we read very little fiction. Now, after the Clive Staples Awards, we found several new authors that we’re following the books of. Strangely enough, while I liked those novels (some of them quite a bit), I found very little inspiration from them. Some, certainly; but not a large amount. Nothing worth mentioning.

Oddly, it was reading A Tale of Two Cities, and re-reading Lord of the Rings that gave me the most inspiration. The first book, one that I’ve heard a lot of negative opinions expressed on, I read for school. I was not expecting to enjoy it very much, as I’ve heard several unflattering things about Dickens. Yet the characters seemed strangely familiar to me, even though it was the first time I had read the book, and I found that I have characters similar to a few of them. In spite of the slight difficulty reading it produced, I found myself enjoying it more and more as I went along. The plot lines were intriguing, and, as I neared the end, they were astounding as I realized that there had been nothing misplaced or irrelevant; everything tied in to the conclusion. One of the scenes stole my breath for a whole afternoon.

Lord of the Rings I have read several times before. Even so, I found things that surprised me. At one point I paused to do something and stepped away from the book for a moment; when I returned, I resumed at the beginning of the paragraph I had read before leaving the book.

‘Alas! I fear we cannot say here longer,’ said Aragorn. He looked towards the mountain and held up his sword. ‘Farewell, Gandalf!’ he cried. ‘Did I not say to you: if you pass the gates of Moria, beware? Alas that I spoke true! What hope have we without you?’

(Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R Tolkien. Chapter entitled, “Lothlorien.”)

All of a sudden our battered and bruised copy of The Lord of the Rings surprised me with the amount of emotion to be seen there. Aragorn stopped just outside the mountain, raised his sword and screamed his words to an empty sky and to a man he knew could no longer hear them. That book is known as an epic filled with heroism, a great quest, various deep characters, and plot twists. Very rarely is it mentioned the amount of emotional turmoil the characters must have had to go through. It’s not explicitly stated, but if you look deeper, if you engage your imagination, you would find emotion and fear and pain.

Both of the books surprised me. My respect for Charles Dickens was raised several notches. My firm belief that Lord of the Rings changes every time you read it was reinforced.

Both of them gave me more inspiration than I was expecting.

Old books aren’t often recommended for writers, especially young ones. Yet I’ve found that there’s a hidden wealth of emotion, of inspiration, of epic things, in older books.

For fast energy, read new books. The action-packed adventure stories with upfront emotional drama, sometimes deeper than expected, sometimes shallower, will bring you to your feet again. But when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to pick up a dust-covered old tome, blow the fragments of old history from its cover, and open it again.

Look deeper. It might just amaze you.

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