Desperate for inspiration.

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Desperate for inspiration.

Postby Philabuster » 27 Nov 2012, 16:49

I finished my novel last month, well not totally finished...but it's in the hands of editors right now so for the time being it's finished for me. Shamefully I have not been writing much since. I've been thinking about plot, characters, and stories non stop but I just can't seem to be inspired by anything. Now I know the jargon about how "if you wait to be inspired than you'll be waiting a long time", but I'm seriously really stuck on what to write. After spending a year working on my novel I feel like I've forgotten how to do anything else, including working on a different novel.

Very blocked up and wondering how others become inspired...so do tell.
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Re: Desperate for inspiration.

Postby dios4vida » 27 Nov 2012, 16:59

Well, most of the time when I'm ready to start a new novel I just pick the idea that seems the most exciting to me at the time, or the one I've been thinking about the most during the other project, and start running with that. While I worldbuild/plan (as much as a mostly-pantser does, anyway) I usually build enough momentum to find that inspiration along the way.

All that being said...usually when I'm fresh out of a novel, I give myself leave to take a month or so off. I don't push myself into another project right away. After all the work of getting that one story finished and edited and all pretty-like, I've found that if I jump right into something else I'll burn out really quickly. A few weeks with no pressure to write, plan, edit, or otherwise do writerly stuff is the best way for me to find the excitement and inspiration and energy needed to start a new novel.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson
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Re: Desperate for inspiration.

Postby polymath » 27 Nov 2012, 19:26

Treating or coping with at least novel postpartum depression might call for a ritual that includes some celebration, some distancing, some new explorations for creative vision inspirations.

Celebrate completion of the novel. Take a trip. Go to a social event, like a fair, a carnival, an art show or some other creative endeavor, like a BYO booze evening pottery class. Get out and experience new horizons. The writer persona will kick in from observing people interacting as people oblivious to their idiosyncracies. Fun stuff. Inspirational stuff. Puzzles to deciper. Meaningful problems wanting satisfaction.

Narrow in on a writing technique or principle that emerged while writing the novel, again, exploring new horizons. If you've got craft well in hand, work on voice. If you've got craft and voice well in hand, work on audience appeal and accessibility. If you've got the latter in hand, cycle back to craft. Maybe even cycle back to mechanical style. I learn new principles of writing's basic grammar and punctuation regularly. The mechanical principles have a well-defined parameter of convention. However, they also have variants that, when artfully deployed, influence impact, intent, and meaning. Commas are a trial for any writer but, when considered for their explicit dramatic purposes, they can be judiciously and timely replaced by em dashes, ellipsis points, question marks, or parentheses for stronger emotional impact and ease of interpretation and expressing meaning.

I don't have a problem with finding inspiration. I have a running Inspiration notes file that's decades old, filled with this, that, and the other. Just reading your post gave me an inspiration about the postpartum doldrums a writer has when a project is put out into the world to sink or swim. The entire emotional investment is spent and the self is adrift in a beginning again that was so long ago. I asked in what way might that situation be reinvented as a core dramatic complication, a problem wanting satisfaction that an audience might find common cause with. For example, instead of a writer, the central persona might be a warrior forcibly put out to pasture after a lifelong military career. He or she is adrift from the existential crisis of loss of identity. I started thinking about several science fiction and fantasy narratives with a similar theme of an individual and society, and an individual and alienation. Mental perambulations opened up a horizon that I'll get around to developing once current priorities are satisfied.
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Re: Desperate for inspiration.

Postby Beethovenfan » 27 Nov 2012, 19:40

polymath wrote:...an art show or some other creative endeavor, like a BYO booze evening pottery class.


Heh-heh!

I have been taking time away from real, serious, down-and-dirty writing for about six months now. I finished one work and immediately went right into another and got really burnt out. Next time I will give myself several months before I begin another project. I like what Polymath said about doing other things to fill your creativity. Do something else besides writing for a while. Then get back to it. You'll know when you're ready, too. The ideas will come and it will just feel good.
Hope that helps.
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven
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Re: Desperate for inspiration.

Postby Shipple » 29 Dec 2012, 18:17

I completely agree. Everyone needs a vacation from writing sometimes. And if your book is with editors, I'd guess you might be getting it soon for revisions, so soon you'll have more than enough on your plate.

Do some reading, watch some TV, go for a walk. All of these things refresh my brain and can help inspire me.

But, in the meantime, you definitely deserve a break.
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Re: Desperate for inspiration.

Postby JohnDurvin » 30 Dec 2012, 11:06

If you're wanting to be creative but your old writing patterns aren't working, try something different. You've been working in the same world with the same people that you're probably still thinking in the same ways, so I would suggest brainstorming something in a totally different genre or medium. For example, say your book was a terse political thriller set in the Hague, 1973; imagine a sitcom, or try sketching the backstories to Craigslist "missed connections" like that illustrator I read about on Brain Pickings but whose name I can't find. Or say you've been doing some cosmic horror as metaphor for gender politics in the new millenium; come up with ten names for fictional NES games and another ten for breakfast cereals. Write a bio for an imaginary defunct synth-pop band. Start an actual synth-pop band. Write some "Waiting for Godot" fanfic. Find a new favorite painter. Everybody has some incredibly famous movie they've never seen; watch it. Click Wikipedia's "random page" link three times and write a short story the contains all three things. You've just got to shake up your creative process; don't try to jump straight from one novel to another, especially while you're still waiting to hear back from the editors.
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