The other day, I was writing a letter to a friend, when all of a sudden I had the urge to write a chapter of my story. Now, I’m not saying the urge was a bad thing (even if it did cause me to lose about an hour of designated revision time), but it did get me wondering. What was it that got me inspired to write?
Inspiration is a tricky thing. It strikes at the most inopportune moments, and never shows when you would really like it to (unless you are just lucky, in which case, I want your luck). For me, three things seem to bring it on: Reading, Research and Art.
The first, reading, is particularly powerful when I am reading an incredible book, with the occasional similarity to mine (even if that similarity is just a name). It happens while I am reading, just casually imagining that particular story in my head, and then suddenly, I find myself wondering what my characters would do in that situation, which then evolves rapidly to me wanting to find out where they are next headed in my novel. An incredibly good series for this, I’ve found, is the ‘Saga of the Exiles’ by Julian May. It’s a sci-fi series that you can just get lost in. I know I could not pull myself out of the first book (The Many Coloured Land) when I first read it. And when it was not ruining my social life by making me stay indoors and finish it, the series was inspiring me start work on my own story. I wanted my story to be as good and so I just had to get to work. I would really recommend reading The Saga of Exiles if you haven’t already.
Secondly, Research. I am completely obsessed with research. Sometimes I can spend a whole day following links on Wikipedia or Google as one topic sends me onto another. Generally this starts with me wanting to look up one small fact, but then I start reading around the subject, and I want to learn more about the background of the people involved, or events that led up to or on from the subject, and I can’t stop. And then from there, I start researching the world that my characters are living in, or adding bits and pieces that I have found into said world, slowly building it up and making it more believable. That characters start to firmer shapes, and the whole premise becomes more fascinating. I love it.
And last of the three – Art. Essentially, art helps get the creative juices flowing in my head, and it was this, I think, that caused the urge to write some more of my story while I was writing the letter as I was drawing a dragon at the bottom of the page (with a little help from Google, I must admit). While viewing artwork does do something to cause inspiration to make an appearance, I think the actual process of creating the artwork does it a lot better. In particular, I found drawing the characters and places to be a good source of inspiration for the actual writing process as it helps you discover more about those characters and places. And, by allowing you to bring out the creativity needed to create, it is not just the artwork that is being made, but the story as well.
And so, those are the three things that inspire me in particular. Let me know what inspires you in the comments, and I shall leave you with the dragon that I drew at the end of the letter. Until next time!