Saturday, April 11, 2015

Five Steps to Inspiration

We’ve all had it - the dreaded writer’s block!  Suddenly, our mind goes blank.  We can’t come up with ideas, and even if we do, we can’t get past the idea to the plot or outline.  All good writers know this is only temporary.  Inspiration will strike again.  Some time. 

But rather than wait for that moment, why not make it happen?  There are many different places to look for inspiration to get that story idea or to fill out that plot.  Here are five steps to get you started.

1.      Read the Headlines – Truth is stranger than fiction.  That’s the truth.  People are so unpredictable, I often find myself wondering – what were they thinking?  Capitalize on these stories.  Here are just a few headlines from today’s news: “Unidentified Man Found Dead Under Des Plaines Underpass” “One Man’s Life With 5 Identities” “Teen With Heart Transplant Dies After Broken Promise To Change”  Without even reading these stories, just imagine what you could create around one of these headlines.

2.      Study Your Family – Whether you write historical or contemporary, your family is full of inspiration.  When did your family emigrate to America?  Where did they settle?  What were their occupations?  How about today?  Who has an interesting profession?  An unusual one?  A dangerous one?  Is your family dysfunctional?  Of course, if you use a family member as a central character, make sure to change enough that the person won’t be easily identified, especially if the description isn’t flattering.

3.      Read History Books – History is full of colorful figures.  Some changed the world, whether it was through ill deeds, or charitable acts.  There are criminals and heroes.  There are those who broke barriers, and those who dared to think outside the box.  You can use their life story as your core plot, or build your characters around that event in history.

4.      Read Biographies – While these are similar to history books, biographies give a more in-depth look at what life was like during the time period.  They usually offer insights into the emotions of the day, as well as the current events shaping their lives.  What can you glean from their lives that would be appropriate for your characters?

      5.      Meditate – While this won’t actually fill your head with ideas (you’re supposed to rid your mind of thought during meditation), studies have shown that daily meditation (as little as ten minutes a day) will help you concentrate and focus.  Also, the more you meditate, the less anxiety you will have.  And when your mind is clear of stress, it can fill up with inspiration.

These are just a few ways to find inspiration for your writing.  What’s your favorite method of finding ideas?

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