Every writer has had one of these moments: you’re staring at a blank page, wanting nothing more than to write something epic, but your mind goes blank. All those wonderful ideas just… gone. Or, even worse, right in the middle of your epic masterpiece, your well of inspiration runs dry. What happens next? What are these characters even doing?? Every writer knows that inspiration can be a tricky thing and that without it, working on your manuscript feels impossible or like all the joy has been sucked out of the process.
A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world – Susan Sontag.
Finding inspiration can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, it can come from the strangest of places. All it takes is a shift of your mindset and the world around you becomes ripe with stories.
This is one of my favorites for character development. Watching the way people interact and imagining what lives they lead is a fun way to come up with character ideas and character arcs.
Living in an agricultural area, one of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is go for a drive. We head out into the country and drive through small towns and farmland. Not only is it relaxing, but it can be inspiring. Take that peaceful setting and throw your story’s conflict into it. Or investigate the local ghost stories and legends and spin a tale around that.
Learn something new.
There are a ton of interesting resources out there, from webinars to virtual tours, even just wandering Google Earth from your couch. Find one that interests you and find a way to weave that into your story. You never know, a virtual tour of an art museum just might be the spark that sets your story in motion.
There have been plenty of events in history that could inspire amazing stories. You could take the role that women played in the Revolutionary War, for example, and include those as roles several of your characters take on in your story’s conflict. You could retell the story of the Titanic but make it fictional.
Fun and games
Look at writing prompts, writing challenges, and plot games. (Hint: we have several of these in our blog archive). These can be interesting ways to flex your creative muscles.
Read outside of your comfort zone.
This is a great way to kick start new ideas or new ways to present ideas. Expand your horizons a little and see where it takes you. If you typically only read dystopian YA, give historical fiction a shot. If you generally avoid romance novels, give one a try.
Imagine a scenario from another perspective.
By now, we are all familiar with fairy tale retellings from the villain’s point of view and stories like these found major success. What other perspectives could you tell a story from? Onlookers? Would Cinderella have been an interesting story from the animal’s POV? There are always more players in a story that can change how the story is told.
As writers, the need to push the boundaries of what we think we can write is always looming in the back of our minds. Embrace it. Experiment with the tone, language, genre, time periods, and character arcs. What if there is no redemption arc at the end of your story? How does that play out?