Finding Inspiration, Part 2

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

–Jack London

I think a lot of writers start out with the image of themselves as tortured artists, slaving away at the keyboard or waiting for inspiration to strike.  They write infrequently, if ever, and have more manuscripts half-finished on their hard-drive than they have completed ones.  

And I think it’s a shame.  

One of the biggest shifts in my career was when I started looking at writing as a job.  I started showing up every day and sitting down at the keyboard at the regularly scheduled time.  Sure, my goals were small at first, but the more regularly I showed up to work, the easier the word counts came and the easier the inspiration came.  After all, it’s a lot easier to enjoy doing something when you’re kicking ass at it.  No one likes struggling or coming in last.  

In the first post on Inspiration, I told you to get in the water.  You can’t catch waves (of inspiration) from the shore.  This is a slightly different take on that metaphor.  

There’s probably plenty of you that think you can’t “force” inspiration, but I think you can go hunting for it.  In this post, I want you to go hunting for inspiration.  

How do you go hunting for inspiration? Surround yourself with interesting stuff, like things that are pertinent to the story you’re working on. If you’re writing a story that revolves around the ocean, then go to the beach! Get sandy and salty. Go to an aquarium or watch some nature documentaries.  

Sometimes inspiration comes from a completely unrelated source. Staring at a barbecue pit might give you an idea for a space opera. Crazier things have happened.  Inspiration can come from anywhere and from anything. Go hunting everywhere. Ride widely (not just in your genre), Cross-Train, or watch something new.  Figure out why one story works and why another one doesn’t.  What tropes does the story use?  How can you do something different?

Keep pen and paper with you or use a note taking app on your phone.  Be ready to capture inspiration when you find it.  

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