5 Things You Can Do to Inspire Your Writing

5 Things You Can Do to Inspire Your Writing
Published on 18 August 2015

One Stephen King novel, Carrie, is about a high school girl who doesn’t fit in with her peers. When she discovers she can move objects with her mind, she uses her powers to exact revenge on the classmates who taunted her. King published this novel in the 1970s. In the 1990s, he published a short story called “A Face in the Crowd” about a lonely widower who begins to see a person from his past occupying a seat behind home plate every time he watches a baseball game on television. In Cell, published in 2006, King weaves a tale of a catastrophic event that instantly turns everyone making a cellphone call into a zombie. Over his career, King has written more than fifty novels and nearly two hundred short stories. How does he come up with so many ideas? How can you come up with a premise for your next novel? Learn from prolific authors like Stephen King how you can get your creative juices flowing.

Examine the Works of Others

The first inspiration comes from Stephen King himself. In an interview with Goodreads, he discusses how he developed the plot of Revival, one of his most recent novels. Revival is about a man who is treated for his illness by a faith healer but begins to suffer bizarre side effects. King mentions three works as inspiration. First, a horror novella by Arthur Machen titled The Great God Pan planted a seed in King’s mind. He was also influenced by the works of fellow horror novelists H. P. Lovecraft and Mary Shelley. Think about the stories that have touched your life. Do not limit yourself to the plot. What realistic characters and witty dialogue can you remember? Are you motivated to write about themes that you have encountered in literature? If you admire the style of writing that a particular writer possesses, can you incorporate some of its characteristics into your prose?

Look Inside

Charles Dickens was another author who wrote dozens of novels and short stories. Where did he find inspiration? In the case of David Copperfield, it was from his own life. As a child, Dickens worked in a factory when his family fell on hard times—young David Copperfield, too, finds himself in this situation. Dickens also suffered under the hand of a harsh headmaster at boarding school, an experience he used to create cruel Mr. Creakle, the headmaster of David’s boarding school. What events have shaped your life? What emotions marked your childhood? What type of people have you encountered? You can use these elements of your own life to influence your writing.

Travel the World

Other authors find their inspiration in the things they encounter on their travels. As you can see from the experience of the novelist M.J. Rose, the journey from inspiration to writing is not always linear. In Paris, she visited the home of author Victor Hugo. Fascinated with the man, she read Les Misérables. She read more of his works, including his poetry. She examined his watercolor paintings. Finally, she discovered that he believed in reincarnation. Did his belief have anything to do with the characters that he created in Les Misérables? Through this research, M.J. Rose found her inspiration for Seduction, a novel about Victor Hugo’s attempts to contact his dead daughter through séances. Would Rose have become so interested in Victor Hugo if she had not toured his home? Don’t worry if you do not have money to travel to France or some other exotic locale. Venture out to local landmarks and historical venues. Research the cultures of the people who make up your community. Read about the practices of people in other countries. Let your mind wander. You might be surprised by the path it takes if you just give it the liberty to roam.

React to Pop Culture

What gets your blood boiling? What do you consider to be the triumphs and breakdowns of modern society? Write about it! In Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, a young girl named Katniss Everdeen volunteers to compete in a life-or-death tournament that might provide her impoverished family with some desperately needed resources. The author said that reality television had an impact on her conception of The Hunger Games. In an interview with the New York Times, Collins says, “I was channel surfing between reality TV programming and actual war coverage when Katniss’s story came to me. . . . on one channel there’s a group of young people competing . . . and on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.” What’s on the news tonight? Let it inspire you!

Harness Your Dreams

Do you remember your dreams? Dreams have been creative fodder for many authors, including E. B. White, author of Stuart Little. He dreamed about a talking mouse. Interestingly, he took notes, but did not transform his notes into a novel until twenty years later! So whether you’re thinking about a dream you had last night or one from decades ago, don’t miss this opportunity to be inspired. Keep a notebook by your bed. Jot down any intriguing ideas that pop into your mind as you drift off to sleep. In the morning, record what you remember about your dreams. Great art or literature may contain themes for your next project. What about your own life? Can you develop a story about the people and experiences familiar to you? Keeping current with world news and traveling can open your mind to new cultures and people. Even your dreams may provide images to fuel your imagination. Will you take advantage of the sources of creativity that surround you?

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