About a year ago, several YA authors got together in a #yalitchat twitterchat to discuss our “Muse Inspiring Must Haves.” Those things that help authors write.
My personal views about inspiration are more on the mystical side. I’m fond of the idea of an elusive muse (or genius, as Elizabeth Gilbert calls it) and I chase it in my meditations, feeling lucky when it speaks to me at all. Others prefer a more secular approach, finding things in this world that inspire them.
Here are some of the thing writers use to inspire themselves and find their muse (plus a few of my own).
For some, this is the greatest muse of all. Some writers use it to create a mood and get into a feeling necessary for a character or scene. Others cannot listen to anything with lyrics while they write, or they get distracted.
I’ve been known to keep a song on repeat while I’m writing a particular scene to borrow its energy. Some of the songs I’ve used are available on my Playlists page.
Writing with Pen and Paper
A surprising number of authors use this technique to break through a stuck phase. Some do writing exercises to “warm up”. Some write to break through a block. Others write entire scenes by hand, to avoid the perfectionism typing can bring up, or because it doesn’t have the same level of distractions as the internet can have.
How about you? Do you write with pen and paper first or on the computer? If you do use pen and paper, where do you use it?
Some authors write in cafes (like me) or on their days off. Some write in the early hours in their office. Others write on the couch, when the kids are asleep, or during their lunch hour at the office (on paper or on the computer).
Does location help you get into the mood to write?
Of course, the internet is the biggest distraction of all. Some avoid it altogether and write by hand. Others, like me, use it as a thesaurus or for “quick research” (which in my case just means “brain break”). The site Write or Die was recommended to me as a way to push through those distractions, though I’ve been told it’s a little stressful.
What do you use?
These past few months, I’ve been exploring heuristics to help keep my creative juices flowing. Plotters are really good at these. Things like outlines, character questionnaires or exercises (like writing a diary entry for a character), world building techniques (like map making), or even mind mapping. All of these things can help you move your story forward, or get to know more about what you’re writing. For pantsers like me, it can give your work more breadth and depth. For plotters, it helps to flesh out a scene.
Here’s an example of a short fiction heuristic, in case you’re interested.
Overall, it seems no two authors are alike. The one thing we all seem to have in common is the desire to write. Somehow that desire translated to the ability to fit writing into our busy schedules and lives.
If you are a fan of the more mystical approach, I also offer a Meditation to Meet Your Muse on this site.
If you do have rituals, behaviours and writing must-haves in order to get pen to paper, what are they? What inspires you to write?