'What' inspires you most to write ?

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MindfulInquirer

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That question could mean many, very different things.

Here I mean if you could break it down into categories, do you think places inspire you most (say you're on holiday somewhere, inspiration comes then), is it people (certain special individuals you're close to) ?...or do you feel it's even more inward than that perhaps ? (like you're inspired by some of what you see, hear, taste etc... but really your imagination runs wild on its own).
 

lilyWhite

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The things that inspire me to write most are the things other people have written that amaze and delight me. If I could give even a handful of people that same joy and excitement, then I'd be happy.
 

triceretops

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Yeah, kind of a tough question. It seems to me that when I'm out and about in the vehicle, not driving, and watching the scenery go by, I glimpse images and sometimes change them. At the same time, I can be involved in dialogue with the passengers or driver, and then something ironic or inspirational will sprout from those words. Anything, really, that simulates ideas or What Ifs. The What If question is a good motivational provider. Take something normal and twist it around or give it a reverse meaning. I can think of something totally outlandish and then try to make logical sense out of it, or make it normal in a different setting or world.
 

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Mostly inward, I think. I have a tremendous lot of questions about people, personalities, and relationships; so I tend to write about such things as vampiric personality traits—which will usually translate into a horror story—or challenges to deeply-held principles.
 

Maze Runner

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People. People fascinate me. Good, bad or indifferent, everyone has a story to tell. I don't have to know them, in fact, it's better if I don't. If I know them I can't be as imaginative about their lives or specific situations. I can take only what I need and build a premise and hopefully a story around them. I can see what I want to see and be blind to the rest. But I have to be a wiling traveler. I have to be outside of myself to get to that place where I can start to empathize. I have to be receptive to being interested in them to that extent, and then it has to be inspiring, sustainable enough to carry me through. There's an old line from a bad movie that goes something like, 'Today, I feel sorry for any poor bastard in a jam.'

All that said I haven't been inspired to write anyting for a while. People haven't changed, so it must be me.
 

lizmonster

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I'm with Maze Runner. Humans are fascinating and weird. I like taking characters and putting them into untenable situations just to see how they'll cope.

I also have a deep and unrealistic need for the universe to make sense. On the page, it can make as much sense as I want it to.
 

MindfulInquirer

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Ooh. All interesting replies here.

Yeah, kind of a tough question. It seems to me that when I'm out and about in the vehicle, not driving, and watching the scenery go by, I glimpse images and sometimes change them. At the same time, I can be involved in dialogue with the passengers or driver, and then something ironic or inspirational will sprout from those words. Anything, really, that simulates ideas or What Ifs. The What If question is a good motivational provider. Take something normal and twist it around or give it a reverse meaning. I can think of something totally outlandish and then try to make logical sense out of it, or make it normal in a different setting or world.

Yeah that seems to be closest to how I feel about it. It's really quite interesting how certain stories (movies or books) start off from a ridiculous premise that isn't relatable at all, and then somehow build into a story with tensions and characters that are relatable. Like there's true meaning in far-fetched fiction. Something that makes real sense in unrealistic situations.
 

Curlz

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Deadlines and last minute panic. So, I guess that falls under the "inward" category :greenie. I've tried "places", there had been inspiration but no results... :Shrug: People can be an inspiration for a character and that had worked well :Thumbs:
 
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Elenitsa

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I have to get something outside of me that's inside.

Usually this happens to me too. But for a short story, especially if I want to take part in a contest or something which requires sticking to a certain theme, sometimes I need to actively seek inspiration. For the two short stories I published in two anthologies last autumn, focusing on historical events/ persons from 100 years ago (celebrating 100 years of an united, big country), I had to read a lot about all the historical provinces who got united, in order to find a spark of an event to write about, then to find the twist which made the historical fact into historical fiction. Now I want to get into a contest again, and I am actively looking for a spark of a subject, while having chosen roughly my time and place (also historical, 1821, around a certain battle).

Otherwise, in general, I can be inspired by a song, by a book or a movie (through association of ideas), by someone I know or I hear about, by the nameless people around me...
 

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Two things in particular.

The first thing would be things that I like to see and/or read. Like, my states are permanently stuck in the 80s and early 90s (heh) with a heavy amount of cheese, so I tend to write about that kind of silly stuff since that media is finite. Like, sure, it might take me my decades to see very single 80s b-movie ever made or every pulp ever written, but still, the amount of stuff out there is finite (to say nothing of the actually good stuff) and will eventually dry out. I much rather write my own stuff rather than have suddenly no stuff. Sure, its selfish, but eh, its a thing I guess.

Second is music. That one is simpler to explain, since its mostly a visual thing. When I hear a part a song or composition that of course sounds like it can belong to a car chase or battle atop a burning castle or something cheesy like that, my brain can't stop itself from picturing it and then I want to write it. Characters and the actualy stories usually come later, hahaha.
 

MindfulInquirer

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Two things in particular.

The first thing would be things that I like to see and/or read. Like, my states are permanently stuck in the 80s and early 90s (heh) with a heavy amount of cheese, so I tend to write about that kind of silly stuff since that media is finite. Like, sure, it might take me my decades to see very single 80s b-movie ever made or every pulp ever written, but still, the amount of stuff out there is finite (to say nothing of the actually good stuff) and will eventually dry out. I much rather write my own stuff rather than have suddenly no stuff. Sure, its selfish, but eh, its a thing I guess.

Second is music. That one is simpler to explain, since its mostly a visual thing. When I hear a part a song or composition that of course sounds like it can belong to a car chase or battle atop a burning castle or something cheesy like that, my brain can't stop itself from picturing it and then I want to write it. Characters and the actualy stories usually come later, hahaha.

I'm sorry, there's just too much cheese in that post.
Yeah. I hadn't quite thought about it that clearly, but there's a direct correlation between the inspiration provoked by sound and music, and thinking of a story that goes with. There's surely a direct relation between associating a piece of music with images, but I hadn't thought about associating it with a storyline. Funny how that works in the brain. I can't say I've ever been inspired to write a story based on listening to a song, but I definitely see where the idea comes from.
 

mewellsmfu

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Showers. I mean that literally. My best ideas come while taking a shower, probably because it requires so little real thought. My mind just kind of floats around and that's when I get my most brilliant ideas. Or they are until I read them the next day.

I also draw from small snippets of interaction I catch.

But mostly showers.
 

Kat M

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Human relationships. I'm fascinated by the complexities that can exist between two people. I usually start with two people, an odd relationship, and then build a story around them.
 

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Agree with the compulsion thing. I find I have to write, often to the point of burnout. Even if I try to enforce a break for my own good I always seem to end up doing some peripheral task that leads back to it, like research or forbidden editing. And my brain rarely switches off thinking about it. Not sure if that counts as inspiration or not?

But other than that, the obvious - reading wonderful things really stokes the fire, as does the desire to understand the intricacies of human endeavour. I also have a thing with songs - sometimes they can conjure up an idea in a few words that would take a book several paragraphs, and I find that use of writing skill fascinating.
 
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Woollybear

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Not much. But, I think writing helps me figure things out for myself. Maybe the thing a few folks said about how unique everyone is--and using fiction to explore that. Maybe it increases compassion to actively develop different 'characters.' I dunno.

I like learning too, and so the research part, while work, is usually something I value. I need to research nuclear energy before too long, for example, among other renewable energies. Lots of research. Learning.
 
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Lakey

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What inspires me to write generally is that writing is how I think. That’s why the only positive feedback I ever got from my advisor in graduate school is that I kept the best lab notebooks he ever saw. It’s why I’ve gravitated since then toward careers that rely on writing. It’s why I became reasonably good at essay-writing and film criticism. It’s probably why I have close friendships with people around the world that I talk to nearly exclusively in text form.

As for what inspires me to write fiction: Reading. It was a novel that made me want to write fiction in the first place, and reading gives me ideas for scenes and for characterization, for settings, for ways to approach plot problems, for mechanical techniques, for everything. And it inspires me to achieve, too. I want to do to other people what certain books have done to me. I want to write something worthy of the novel that inspired me. I read more now than I did before I started writing fiction, and it’s never enough.

I am a little envious of people who describe writing as something that pours out of them by compulsion. It’s not like that for me. I want to do it, but I have to discipline myself to do it, and - with fiction at least - every word is labor. I’m not saying that folks who describe their writing as compulsion don’t also work very hard; of course they do. But that experience of having a story inside me yearning to get out, or having a first draft pour out onto a page - I just don’t have that.

:e2coffee:
 
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SophK

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I am a little envious of people who describe writing as something that pours out of them by compulsion. It’s not like that for me. I want to do it, but I have to discipline myself to do it, and - with fiction at least - every word is labor. I’m not saying that folks who describe their writing as compulsion don’t also work very hard; of course they do. But that experience of having a story inside me yearning to get out, or having a first draft pour out onto a page - I just don’t have that.

I can only speak to my own 'compulsion' here, but unfortunately it doesn't come with an outpouring as such, and I have one of those lovely 'flow states' about once in a blue moon. I'd LOVE to have that going on all the time. It's hard to explain, because it definitely helps with productivity to be this way, but I have to constantly discipline myself to stay on the right task and keep consistently moving forwards. I still sit down every night and have to fight with the impulse to procrastinate, and pick up my pen, and get the damn words down. It's more about if I don't do it, I get completely and utterly restless and yearn after every single moment I wasted not writing. Then I start to get grouchy like a horse kicking the stable door needing to be turned out. And the minute I tell myself to have a break I start itching to do it. So that's why I feel it's compulsive, it's just a sheer lack of control over the habit! It's true that every day I can't wait to finish work and sit down to my 'writing time', and I don't prefer the temptations of other entertainment, but most of the time staring at the blank page is still a challenge. But it's a challenge I can't wait to face, which is weird because I'm a full on quitter at everything else ;)

I find the learning potential of writing motivating too, now it's been mentioned. And also I find art inspirational in a general sort of way - like the creativity of others gone before, all the different processes, the bravery and drive that makes people feel like they had to create something no matter what - just the idea of that in and of itself I find very inspirational. The idea that it's within us, and deserves to be captured, that keeps me going sometimes.
 

lizmonster

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It's more about if I don't do it, I get completely and utterly restless and yearn after every single moment I wasted not writing.

^^This. I'm a world-class procrastinator. I love TV and video games and baking and playing with my kitties. But if I don't write enough, I get weird.
 

Harlequin

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yeah... also not much of an outpourer. In that sense, my throwing up comment is a bad metaphor. Maybe like a scab you can't stop coming back to pick?

The old latin phrase comes to mind: cacoethes scribendi (the incurable itch of writing).
 

lilyWhite

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I am a little envious of people who describe writing as something that pours out of them by compulsion. It’s not like that for me. I want to do it, but I have to discipline myself to do it, and - with fiction at least - every word is labor. I’m not saying that folks who describe their writing as compulsion don’t also work very hard; of course they do. But that experience of having a story inside me yearning to get out, or having a first draft pour out onto a page - I just don’t have that.

Could be worse. Could be the desperate desire to want to write, to wish you were writing, to want nothing more but to be writing—but when you sit down wanting to write, you just can't motivate yourself to write a word. Which then snowballs into further lacking motivation, until you finally hit a day where the dam not-as-much "breaks" as "you forget it's there" and get as much out as you can before it slams back into existence.

:e2bear:
 

Woollybear

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For whatever it's worth, it seems to me like if I try to push through and write (like this week, starting over and having no idea 'what comes next'), itty bitty little snippets do occur to me--usually when I'm breaking to do something else. Like:

"Oh! She's the antagonist in this scene, so she needs to do X and he needs to do Y--and that gives the scene tension."

And if I *do* manage a scene that is in good shape, then I am naturally curious what happens next.

Figuring out the 'villain' and the central story conflict for this second book was rough, partly because I tried to pants my way through to avoid all the plotter problems, but at least I've learned to read more broadly and that's good for getting ideas.
 

MindfulInquirer

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All interesting replies. Too many things to reply to, I'll pick this for now:

^^This. I'm a world-class procrastinator. I love TV and video games and baking and playing with my kitties. But if I don't write enough, I get weird.

Highlights the therapeutic nature of producing art, eh.

Someone higher on the thread mentioned (sth to the effect of) how writing helps you discover how you feel, who you really are. It's true, you'll look one way in public, and not that you're wearing a mask in social situations or anything but your regular you is one way, and then there's this intimate you inside and you'll get down to write, or sculpt or compose music or wtvr, and you look at it and it's way darker (or more joyful) than would usually be attributed to you.
 

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