Posted by on October 11, 2011 in Literature, On Writing | Comments Off on Inspiration

Inspiration comes in many forms to the Writer. The mind of a writer is a cramped place, a barely contained cacophony of images, sights and sounds, ideas and things. But, what happens when the whirlwind stops and the dreams fade to the background and the words… don’t… flow?


A professional writer doesn’t have the luxury of writer’s block. That’s something you throw up when you’re a student and would rather go have a beer or six with friends. If you want to be paid to write, you become an adept in self-entertainment and finding inspiration. Every hour you sit and stare at a screen waiting for inspiration to strike you like lightning is an hour you’re not being paid. You might have better luck waiting for the lightning strike. So go make your own inspiration.


Literary history is littered with a cast of nefarious writer-types of dubious moral standing, plagued by psychological trauma or just plain weird. Learn about them – that maybe inspiration enough right there. A writer like Hunter S. Thompson might wander off after munching some mescaline and try to find a fountain of whiskey, upon discovery declaring it a fountain of youth. That works for him. I don’t recommend it for everyone. In fact, I don’t recommend it at all. Charles Bukowski (a personal favorite) might suggest a trip to the racetrack and a six-pack of watery American beer. Though it’s somewhat safer than the mighty Hunter S. Thompson’s idea of a good time, it’s still probably not for everyone.


I personally like Toy Stores. They’re packed with colors and shapes and sounds, all of it vying for your attention. It’s stuff designed to grab the attention of children with short attention spans. The flood of imagery and marketing and icons and logos will make you wildly agitated and confused. It’s good for you. You can’t help but subconsciously internalize some of the concepts. If a toy store visit doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, you’re not paying attention.


There’s always the bookstore… well, one less bookstore option these days, but there are still some out there. The shelves are backed with words and colors, images – all designed to hook you. Wander through your favorite genre section. See what’s being displayed in the end caps.


Something I think most fiction/creative writing professors would balk at (or at least deny most vehemently) is that you can get a powerful education in writing by listening to music. Perhaps not Lady Gaga, but tick-tock back a few decades and we see some lyrical brilliance, stuff that’s still sloshing around in the cultural consciousness. Though not a huge fan myself, Bob Dylan can tell a damn story like no one’s business. Sit down and listen to how he paints a picture and sends action and emotion across in very limited spaces. This kind of stuff always inspires me to write; it keeps the poet alive within the prose.


Sometimes it’s just the words themselves that get you all blocked up. In that case, I say do like Shakespeare – make up words or assign new meanings to words. When a snow-covered hilltop pouts day in and out while keep watch over a tiny village, you have to ask… how does a hilltop pout? Is that the right word? Does it matter?

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