I’m caught in a sort of plateau with my writing life currently. I have a horror short sitting stale and unfinished on my computer and a partially edited fantasy novel on my hands. I think about my writing quite a lot, but it’s difficult to just sit down and write. I’m a go-with-the-flow type of person– I can’t write well on command. The inspiration needs to be there. I’m always getting in and out of writing funks, and so I’m always looking for strategies for getting back on track.
There’s the practical way, sure: sitting down with a pen and paper and planning where you’re going to take the story next. You can brainstorm plot ideas, make character profiles, focus on worldbuilding… It must work well for a great deal of people, and sometimes it works for me, too. I could have novels mapped out in detail on the desk in front of me, but I’d still be missing that spark to get started. I’m on a quest to find out where that comes from.
Music helps me a lot. I love putting together playlists of songs that remind me of a character, or a certain scene in the story. Listening to these songs repeatedly often charges me up and gets me excited to start writing. It adds another dimension to the story, in a way, and makes it feel more real.
Another thing that gets me fired up to write is reading and watching books and films that have nothing to do with my stories. It’s kind of strange. Reveling in the genius of other creative people inspires me to take up my own work; I view it as a challenge, if you will. Gormenghast? Doctor Who? The Mortal Instruments? None of these are related to the things I usually write, but they still inspire me.
But what helps me most of all is becoming my own fan. Drawing my characters and writing out little side scenes that aren’t in the story but still popped into my head get me excited about the story again. Sometimes I need to just let my narcissistic side come out, read something I’ve already written, like my one published masterwork, and let myself think, Hey, this isn’t actually that bad. I can be a pretty harsh critic, and I think it bogs me down sometimes. Self-doubt is definitely not productive in the writing field, especially in the drafting.
So, readers, have you got any particular strategies for getting yourself inspired to write? Would you be inclined to share them? As always, happy writing!