Looking for inspiration

Status
Not open for further replies.

wjordan1987

Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
When you are stuck at a point in your writing(as I am right now lol) what do you do for inspiration? I need some ideas.
 

RexZentah

Sockpuppet
Banned
Joined
Aug 27, 2010
Messages
254
Reaction score
18
I am looking for the "I wrote 1,000 words today thread." That's where I am looking for inspiration.

Here's what I do. I look at the forums here. There are some struggling new writers in the Share Your Work Threads. The missing thing is description. I just picked up a couple books on description and I am seeing the need and the quest for it everywhere.

I am stuck on what to do? Write or read about writing description?

(pause)

Time to write another thousand words. Please tell us if you ever find your inspiration.
 

dangerousbill

Retired Illuminatus
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
4,810
Reaction score
411
Location
The sovereign state of Baja Arizona
When you are stuck at a point in your writing(as I am right now lol) what do you do for inspiration? I need some ideas.

It depends on why you're stuck. If I can't figure out where the story's going next, I always take a week or so off writing altogether. I can't force what won't come. I read, I exercise, I do mindless things in order to let my dinosaur brain recharge. Soon the ideas will flow again.

You might be stuck because other things are occupying your time now, personal issues, family demands, wotnot. That's a little harder to solve.
 

synger

Analysis Paralysis
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 24, 2011
Messages
74
Reaction score
8
I have found a number of free-thought exercises that help me begin to write again. Some are "write something that contains these three ideas" projects. One of the books I'm re-reading now has writing exercises that help you brainstorm the world, characters, and plot of a larger project like a novel. I have a notebook specifically for my WIP and the notes, mind-maps, and writing exercises that are helping me shape the overall story.

It helps me just sit down and write, as Susan said.
 

toldyouso

Surly Temple
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Messages
164
Reaction score
33
Location
Melbourne, Australia
Website
toldyousoandso.blogspot.com
A lot of things can help, though it depends on what you're writing and why you're feeling stuck.

Taking some time to dream about the plot and characters is good, if you're stuck for the direction or just the inspiration to continue - which is where I am off and on with my WIP as I plot while I go for the most part. I find going for long walks helps, where I think it through in a lazy-dreamy-focussed way. Lying in the park in the sunshine and letting my thoughts wander. :) Reading supposedly unrelated things only to realise they aren't unrelated at all. haha. Removing the pressure to be perfect and letting it sit for a bit, while working on something else just for fun.

Good luck!
 

jeffo20

Tyrant King
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 8, 2011
Messages
1,747
Reaction score
176
Location
Central New York
Website
doubtingwriter.blogspot.com
I find sometimes changing venues works pretty well. Today I was stuck on something. I printed it a bunch of pages, shoved them in one pocket, stuck a pen in the other, and took a walk. I spent a good fifteen minutes of the walk thinking, then I took the pen and pages out and started making notes and rewriting. It helped. Other times, moving to another part of the house does it, or switching from computer to pen and notebook.

Not exactly 'inspiration', I guess, but it's something that helps clear up the jams.
 

JSDR

wants moar baddassery.
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 18, 2011
Messages
872
Reaction score
166
Location
probably at school
I watch reality TV. The dumbness of it forces me to use my imagination for something else.
 

mnsue

Susan McNerney
Registered
Joined
May 7, 2011
Messages
8
Reaction score
1
Location
Minnesota
Website
www.northernword.com
Read. I've found consistently that if I get stuck, it means I need to pick up a book that is in roughly my category - a good one - and read. Inevitably by reading another novel I figure out things about my own.
 

Wesley Kang

the Light of Dawn
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
1,109
Reaction score
192
Location
Onward and upwards
Someone once asked William Faulkner if he writes when he's inspired or if we writes on a schedule. He famously answered, "I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning."

If you commit to write every day, your inspiration will come. It may not come at the first moment, but the more you learn to sit your butt down to actually do the work, the more the inspiration will come.

The ideas will come at unexpected... and expected times.

Seriously... just write. Even if it's bad, just write. It'll come.

Edit: And yes, when you're not writing, read.
 

Rhoda Nightingale

Vampire Junkie
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Sep 25, 2009
Messages
4,470
Reaction score
658
I have rather the opposite problem--stopping to decide which of my half-dozen ravenous plot bunnies needs feeding first.

That said, I can tell you that the come from lots different places. Recently, as a horror writer, I've been looking up viral internet rumors and urban legends, including unexplained photographs and "apocalyptic logs." My subconscious likes to cook those things.

Other times, they come from music I really like, including music videos and album covers, or, depending on how visually flamboyant the artist is, photoshoots they've done.

Also, if/when I see a movie that utterly disappointed or annoyed me, sometimes I imagine how a different plotline could have been wrung out of it, or make up a backstory to a one-off character that I found more interesting than the protags.

Sometimes the ideas come straight from dreams.
 

Linda Adams

Soldier, Storyteller
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 2, 2005
Messages
4,422
Reaction score
636
Location
Metropolitan District of Washington
Website
www.linda-adams.com
I keep a writing log of sorts. When I'm stumped on a scene, I write the question I'm looking for answer. Sometimes I'll use it also to play around with ideas that I may or may not use. I may also type something like, "What other part of the story is causing this?" Sometimes I find that simply identifying the problem is enough to get my mind working on it.
 

Mr Flibble

They've been very bad, Mr Flibble
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
18,889
Reaction score
5,028
Location
We couldn't possibly do that. Who'd clear up the m
Website
francisknightbooks.co.uk
If I'm stuck because I'm not sure what happens next I keep writing, whatever occurs. What is MCs motivation, what is he desperate for? Make him try to get it. What about character X? etc etc

Sometimes I go off on a false trail - this happened yesterday, but the important bit is the act of writing makes the alternatives, the right way, pop into my head. So I back tracked a couple of hundred words, tweaked them (motivations, a few actions and dialogue words changed. Maybe 100 words cut, and 100 or so added, so no biggy) and bingo, now I know where I'm going.

So write, whatever it is.

Shall I tell you a little tale? A certain writer couldn't work out what to write. Utterly blocked. So he sat at his typewriter (hey, it was a while ago) and started to write about the wall in front of him. Then the room he was sitting in, then the house, then the street...then he wondered what the street would have been like when it was built. Then, with that inspiration, Mr Doctrow wrote Ragtime....
 

megan_d

Falling in the milk
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
Messages
801
Reaction score
123
Location
Perth, Western Australia
If I get stuck, and not just because I'm being lazy and don't feel like writing but actually stuck, then it's usually a pretty good sign that I'm trying to force the characters or plot in a direction they don't want to go. Once I stop and let things move naturally the words start flowing again, although often in directions my plan wasn't expecting!
 

quicklime

all out of fucks to give
Banned
Joined
Jul 15, 2010
Messages
8,967
Reaction score
2,074
Location
wisconsin
are you stuck not knowing how to go on, or stuck needing the ambition to sit your ass down and type some more?
 

bearilou

DenturePunk writer
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 5, 2009
Messages
6,004
Reaction score
1,233
Location
yawping barbarically over the roofs of the world
Honest to goodness, what I do is retype the last one to two pages.

Print them out, delete them from the ms and retype them in word for word with no editing. By the time I'm done with the retyping, I have my momentum, I'm back in the groove of writing and just keep going.
 

melnve

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 3, 2011
Messages
367
Reaction score
27
Location
Melbourne, Australia
When I lack inspiration it's often because I am grappling with a point I am not sure of--so perhaps I have two alternate ideas on how to resolve a plot point. I thrash it out with my husband or the 16 year old gifted kids I teach until I am happy that I am heading the right direction, and then I am eager to just go and write it! Lucky I write YA, otherwise the kids wouldn't be as useful!
 

synger

Analysis Paralysis
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 24, 2011
Messages
74
Reaction score
8
A few years ago I picked up on a whim a thing called The Observation Deck, which touted itself as helpful for giving inspiration and getting people out of writer's block. I pulled it out again after reading your post.

It's basically a deck of cards that you pull from. Each one has a short phrase like "Explore the Underside" or "Eliminate Words" or "Consult the News". It has a small companion book that gives a 2-3 page explanation of each phrase, and ideas based on the phrase that can help you get unstuck.

I've only used it a couple of times (I suffer more from procrastination and unclear planning than from lack of inspiration), but when I did use it I had NO problem getting back into the swing of my story.

There are probably lots of similar things out there on the Internet that can help, and are free. I hope you become "unstuck" soon!
 

Devil Ledbetter

Come on you stranger, you legend,
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Mar 8, 2007
Messages
9,767
Reaction score
3,934
Location
you martyr and shine.
I interview a character. If he's not cooperative, I interview a different one. Be careful though, each character will declare he is really the protagonist. It's because they are the protagonists of their own stories. Don't be fooled. (And if you have a secondary character who doesn't try to claim to be the protagonist, he's probably passive or flat).

The thing with interviews is you have to let the character "talk" even if he's trying to tell you the events or plot are different from what you think. Sometimes we get jammed when we treat a character like a plot paperdoll, trying to "make" him do things he isn't motivated to do.

Another thing I do is read something tangentially related to the story. For example, my WIP is set in the early '70s. For inspiration I went to an antique store and picked up some periodicals from the same time frame. There is a huge difference between filtered nostalgia or our generally accepted cultural touchstones, and what stuff was actually like back then. For a contemporary story, do some casual reading of material related to the subject, themes or the main character's interests.

Something else I'm trying that's new to me, but really helpful, is a big, color coded spreadsheet. It's sort of free-flowing with hunks of lists in different shapes: Time periods in the book, the various characters, physical objects, slang terms, stuff I need to research. I've probably not described it well. The point isn't to create something just like it, but create something that reflects what you're trying to write. Kind of like a corkboard with inspirational items tacked to it, it's a non-linear representation of story elements and context.

Good luck getting unstuck!
 

Libbie

Worst song played on ugliest guitar
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 23, 2007
Messages
5,309
Reaction score
1,089
Location
umber and black Humberland
Changing writing locations always seems to work for me. It gets me thinking in new directions. I usually write at one particular library, and often in one particular spot. When my writing slows too much, sometimes changing seating in the library helps. Sometimes going to a totally new library helps even more. Sometimes, alas, I find that I have gone to a terrible library where people can be as loud and annoying as they want to be, and all my writing time for that day is hot. LYNNWOOD PUBLIC LIBRARY, I AM LOOKING AT YOU.
 

wjordan1987

Registered
Joined
Aug 23, 2011
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
are you stuck not knowing how to go on, or stuck needing the ambition to sit your ass down and type some more?

I'm stuck not knowing how to go on. This happened recently so I started to write a different scene, now I've come a point in that scene where I'm stuck. I have other scenes I can write if thats the best option
 

TheWordsmith

practical experience, FTW
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 26, 2010
Messages
366
Reaction score
38
Location
State of Confusion
I'm stuck not knowing how to go on. This happened recently so I started to write a different scene, now I've come a point in that scene where I'm stuck. I have other scenes I can write if thats the best option

It sounds as though you are having trouble deciding which direction to take any particular scene. You've started two and hit a roadblock with each of them. Do you know the root objective of each of these scenes and how it relates to the overall story? What are you trying to accomplish in the scene? How does the scene move the story along? How does the overall scene effect the MC or other characters in the scene/story? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. If you do not have the answer then you might be trying to write the 'wrong' scene. If the scene does not really connect with the whole story, you might be going in the wrong direction with either the scene or the story.

I am pretty much a linear writer, though, so writing a scene here and another from 'over there' is kind of alien to me. I percieve the concept and pretty much know the beginning and how the story ends. I have a pretty good idea of how the characters get from point A to point Z. There are, of course, many adjustments after the first draft is completed but, overall, the story is there for me so the scenes follow a natural progression. They write themselves to a certain extent. (It's the re-writing that I have to deal with, after the muse has merrily run off to some hiding place.)
 

Chrisla

practical experience, FTW
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jun 9, 2008
Messages
1,247
Reaction score
49
Location
Northern California
Usually I'm stuck because I'm not sure where I'm going next. At that point, I start a new page, jotting down all the plot points I have stored away, then try to put them into a logical order and fill in the blanks. Invariably, some ideas will pop up; at least enough to get me through another chapter or two, and I get excited about the WIP again.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.