Hunting the Muse: finding your writing inspiration

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A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.
– Sidney Sheldon

Writers write. 

Those two words make my blood run cold.  All at once, every idea I’ve ever had disappears.  Those well intentioned, timetabled hours of writing stretch out in front of me; an unending blank page.  A devil on the shoulder.light-glass-lamp-idea-large

Inspiration. En-speer-rayyy-shun.  Go on, roll it around your tongue. Say it loud.  Sing “Inspiration, come to me, stop hiding, thy dirty trickster thee!”

Did it work?

Nope.  Just wanting to be inspired isn’t enough – you have to seek your own personal muse.

Now I know what you’re thinking – we can’t all have a Zelda Sayre or Maud Gonne.  So what do we do to find that spark, that idea from which our beautiful, sparkling prose will flow?

restaurant-hands-people-coffee-largeIf you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
– David Brin

David’s right – the trick is to look for inspiration everywhere.  A bus ride can yield overheard snippets of conversation; a car journey – a new song on the radio.  A conversation with a good friend can yield an person-woman-hand-rainy-largeentire notebook’s worth of ideas.  If you’re inside on a rainy day, the greatest use of your writing time is to read and write in equal measure.  Hell, just staring out of the window at the rain might trigger something.

One of The Midnight Writer’s favourite authors, the peerless Haruki Murakami writes for five or six hours (from 4am), then runs or swims then spends the rest of the day reading and listening to music.  No-one smartphone-vintage-technology-musicwho has ever read his novels could be in doubt of the huge influence his daily routine has on his writing.

You have to dream intentionally. Most people dream a dream when they are asleep. But to be a writer, you have to dream while you are awake, intentionally. – Haruki Murakami

You just have to want to see it.  Don’t dismiss even the smallest idea; even the most unusual situation can inspire.  Gertrude Stein used to sit in her car, scribbling down notes on pieces of scrap paper to find her inspiration; James Thurber was a master of the daydream, often tuning out the rest of the world entirely, to the chagrin of his wife.hand-notes-holding-things-large

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it. ~ Neil Gaiman

Here at the Midnight Writer, my inspiration comes from so many sources it’s impossible to list them all but even so, I have days when brain-744180_1280nothing is happening in the old grey matter, which can be, as you may have experienced, really quite distressing for a writer.  I found the trick is this:  don’t worry about it so much. Instead of screwing yourself into a knot, go do something else.  If you’re a genre writer, go listen to some music which could be used in the film of your book – I’m a horror/suspense writer, so I always go for the disturbing (‘Some Marilyn Manson, Reverend?” “Don’t mind if I do!”) – I’ve even compiled a YouTube playlist for such an occasion.

Go, look.  Listen. Dream. Use your senses. Use the writer’s greatest gift – procrastination  – seek out new ideas, lists of weird stuff, even great fan fiction. Go hang out at Pinterest.  Seriously, anything.list-800759_1280

Then come back and tell us what has inspired your writing – share your ideas in the comments below – you never who you might be helping out!

MF, 25th August 2015

Scribby Checklist #1:  Where to find inspiration

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