Warning. This post isn’t going to be ground-breaking. I am not going to say something profound. Nor will I be giving out sage, life-changing advice. So, if you are reading this, in the hopes that I will share something amazing, that will magically give you cure to the dreaded writer’s block, sorry.
Really, all I can say on the subject is that inspiration is crucial to any artistic endeavour. Whether it be writing, music, drawing, painting, etc. That is why the stereotype of the starving artist desperately searching for their muse exists.
Now, as is typical for this blog, it is the time for me to stress the fact that the topic of discussion is highly variable. What inspires one, will not necessarily inspire another.
I believe that everyone must ask themselves, “what inspires me?”
Preferably early on in their process, though changes will be made as you develop as a (insert hobby, job, calling etc, here). I myself find it beneficial, when trying to exorcise the demonic presence that is writer’s block, to ask myself this question again. I think about all the things that make me feel like putting pen to paper and writing until my hand cramps, and I get that little dent at the first knuckle of my ring finger.
And, that is where we finally get around to the gist of this post.
For me to share my own sources of inspiration. Because honestly, is that not the entire point of this blog? To give myself a medium through which to freely express myself, and tell the internet all about my own writing experience.
To continue the insipidly vague theme, I will admit that my own inspiration comes from many places. And, it changes depending on the time, day, week, and month.
The only concrete thing I can say is this, all my many muses give me the same feeling.
It is an almost indescribable lightness in my chest. It feels as though my heart and soul are soaring, while my body stays rooted in place. My mind wanders, racing through content so fast that I have to forcibly slow it down. The images move through my mind like I am watching a movie, which I then have to pause, so I can form the words to match. All the while my stomach is flipping, as though I have reached the peak on a rollercoaster, and am about to descend (which, in my case, is a very good). Often this happens unexpectedly, which is why I have started taking my iPad, and at least one notebook with me everywhere I go.
I get this feeling a lot from books.
Right now, I get it every time I look at my copy of Laini Taylor’s “Strange the Dreamer”.
The title inspires me. Because it makes me think of myself. Or at least, the self that I have always known, and tried to keep hidden from the rest of the world. The dreamer. Who, despite being scientifically minded, is always lost in some fantastical, magical thought. The girl who doesn’t believe in ghosts, yet once convinced herself that she spoke to one in her dream. The girl who misplaced a pair of socks and instantly began to think of trickster spirits and faeries. The girl who read ‘Anne of Green Gables’ and felt like she had found a kindred spirit.
And beyond the title, the cover of this book gives me that light feeling. A beautiful cover always does. Which is why I don’t believe in not judging a book by its cover. The cover exists purely to draw you in, to give you an idea of what lies inside. So that you can choose whether, or not, to read it.
Other books that come to mind include the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling, the Throne of Glass and Court of Mist and Fury series by Sarah J. Maas, and the Captive Prince series by C. S. Pacat. The writing, world building, characters, and relationships in all three series inspire me to write. In the hopes that I can one day create something that makes others feel the way I do when I read these books.
It is far rarer for film or television to make me feel the same way as a book. But there are exceptions. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ filled my mind with magical creatures. ‘Wonder Woman’ with fierce warriors. And the 2017 adaptation of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ with royal splendour.
Then there is the motivational power of fanart. Be it for books, movies, or television. Most of my time spent on Instagram and Twitter is taken up with fanart, for Yuri on Ice, all things Sarah J. Maas or Joss Whedon, and Captive Prince. It makes me hope for the day where I might receive some of my own
Occasionally real art inspires me. Though I am more often emotionally and creatively stimulated by architecture. When in Paris, I prefer to look at the façade of the Louvre, than the artworks it contains. Beautiful buildings, and spectacular wonderful scenery move me. Mountains, trees, lakes, flowers, and snow, move me far more than a city-scape.
Almost as much as places, people inspire me.
I have taken to naming things in my book after people I know. Characters (given names and surnames), places, creatures, and so on. Though this can get difficult, as no matter how often I stress that nothing is actually based on that person, people will believe what they will. And, it is very difficult to include the name of everyone in your life, to avoid insult.
Strangers help to motivate me as well. I use interesting names of customers at work. I use faces I see on the street. Even the occasional celebrity will feed my ever-changing muse. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Andre Braugher (Captain Holt, Brooklyn-99), and Padma Lakshmi are some such sources of inspiration.
My next muse is, I believe, the most universal.
Music inspires us all, doesn’t it? In one way or another.
This muse is also the most mercurial. Even now, as I write this post, I cannot think of every song or artist that I use to get the creative juices flowing. One day it will be the theme to Yuri on Ice. Then the CD I got when I was 12, of the best songs from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then Rent, Les Misérables, Moulin Rouge, anything Disney (though I include my favourite Dreamworks and Pixar soundtracks in this category). And, no matter what, there is something about Evanescence makes me feel creative.
Lately, my friend Mikaela’s music has been inspiring me as well. Her song ‘Little Bird’ in particular makes me happy. That and ‘Home’ always makes my heart soar, and sparks that need to write.
And last, but not least, writing.
Writing for the sake of writing seems to help break through any blockages in my brain.
If I struggle to continue with my work in progress, I write, just to write. I will start a new book. Either in my head, or on paper. I describe the characters, detail the plot, and even think of actual content for this story.
Or, I will work on my current series without actually writing. I think up ideas for the other books in the series. I think about the cover, possible titles (as my book is still untitled), I flesh out my characters for my own reference. I even write new paragraphs or scenes from later parts of my current book, or for the other three books I hope to add to the series.
Or, I will toy with the idea of a spin-off series, based on a particularly beloved character in the book I am writing now. I have wanted to do this ever since I created the character, and try not to think about it too often. As I sometimes find this more distracting than motivational.
Every now and then (though not as often as I should, as we all know) I will think up, or even write, a new blog post. Just to get myself into the swing of writing. Or, even just to get me thinking of writing.
It is quite possible that is what I am doing right now.
Truly, I could write all night. I could list the vast assortment of things that make my mind take wing. I could do this until the sun comes up, and said mind turns to mush. Though if I were to do that, I believe that both you and I would lose interest. And I would regret my actions come morning. When I struggle to leave my bed, without even the sense of accomplishment of progressing my novel to console me.
But, writing this post has done exactly what I intended. I am inspired. I have beaten the writer’s block that has plagued me for this past week.
So now, I must go and write while I can, before the need to sleep becomes too necessitated. In a few short hours my alarm will go off, so I can get ready for work. Because unfortunately, for now, inspiration does not pay the bills.
Even if it is good for the soul.