Some people are writers.  Whether you decide to develop your skill into something that you can market, quietly submit fan fiction to fan fiction sites, or just jot poetry in a personal notebook, something draws you to write.  You don’t have to.  Plenty of people don’t.  And, really, wouldn’t your life be easier if you didn’t?  How much free time would you have if you didn’t feel the need to finish that manuscript or that short story or that poem?  Wouldn’t it be nice to just relax sometimes and not think, “But I could be writing!”?  We might actually be able to sit in a coffee shop without eavesdropping on conversations for examples of authentic voice.

Nah.

But even for the most hard-core amongst us, every writer is bound to lose steam.  The thought of working out that troublesome section in my work-in-progress is just too daunting for me sometimes.  And I think about taking up knitting, instead.  At those times I need a little bit of writing inspiration.  Here are a few of the things that really inspire me.

  • Books and movies.  Other people’s creativity is a treasure trove of ideas for me.  Sometimes, I’ll write a scene or two of fan fiction from a world I love, like Hogwarts or Labyrinth (Remember that cheesy movie from the 1986 with David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly?  LOVE it.).  It works like a charm to get my creative juices flowing.  Some of my first stories back in my elementary school days were because I wanted to write myself into my favorite books and movies.  Not-so-great books and movies work for me too.  Sometimes my disappointment in the way another author handles a subject matter can inspire an original short story or manuscript of my own.
  • My writing group.  For me, creativity is contagious and so is success.  I love it when one of the people in my group sells a story, especially if it’s a story I saw in critique.  It makes me want to submit more.  Also, misery truly does love company.  When I’m submitting to agents and trying to be patient, I love hearing from the other people who are subbing, too.
  • Critiques, good or bad.  I have a live writing group and in the past I’ve submitted some excerpts from my works-in-progress to a message board of writers on-line for critique.  Sometimes having someone circle a paragraph and write “Love this!” will buoy me for days.  Likewise, when my critique partner can pinpoint something that isn’t working, and I can feel how it will make the whole chapter better, it will give me the excitement I need to revisit that section (probably for the umpteenth time).
  • Brainstorming with someone.  I’m lucky.  I have a creative person who loves me.  When I hit a rough patch, I describe the scene and we brainstorm together.  Switching gears and working something out verbally can be the thing that gets me over the hump.  And having someone to serve as a sounding board, especially someone who can give creative feedback, is a real godsend.
  • Looking at things I’ve already finished.  I have two completed young adult manuscripts and a handful of short stories.  I can finish something.  I can create a character.  I can spend a year doing this.  I know.  I’ve already done it.  Sometimes when I’m in creative despair, I need to remind myself that it’s not a question of, “Can I do it?”, it’s a question of “Can I do it again?”.

So, what inspires you to write when the creative river is starting to run dry?  What keeps you going when you hit a rough patch in your work-in-progress?

Awesome image by Suat Eman at freedigitalphotos.net

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