Almost every writer is inspired by something, whether it be another person, music, photos, books, movies, or a number of other things. Inspiration to write doesn’t always come easily. Often times a story idea just pops into my head, and I take off with it. Other times an inspiration-seeking session is in order.
As a writer, I find myself reading constantly. I read from a variety of genres and from many different authors. Books allow my imagination to run wild. Not only can a book create images in my head, but reading also allows me to see different author’s writing styles. Sometimes a phrase or particular scene from a book gets the creative juices flowing, but in all honesty, gaining inspiration isn’t why I read. I read simply because I enjoy a good book.
An author can gain a lot of insights from watching people, which I do almost subconsciously now. I write realistic fiction, so I spend a lot of time watching how people react to certain events or stimuli. I strive to make my characters as real and believable as possible. Making mental notes about how people act or jotting down what they say often inspires me to write. I create scenes based on what I hear or witness people do. Although my characters are not based on real people, some of their personality traits or dialogue bits may reflect those of people I’ve come into contact with. This makes my characters real and easier to relate to.
Interesting photographs grab my attention. In fact, I have a bad habit of taking pictures of interesting things during routine shopping trips or when I’m sharing lunch with my family. An example of this is when my husband, my kids, and I were eating lunch together and a framed picture on the wall called out to me. It was a photograph of a man in a black trench coat and black fedora walking down a lonely street holding hands with a woman in a black dress. It was raining outside so the woman held a black umbrella in her hand to retract the rain. The man, however, walked unsheltered, with rainwater dripping off his hat. That particular photograph had a story behind it, a story I intended to write. So I pulled out my phone and snapped a picture of it.
I listen to music regularly. I don’t usually do this while I’m writing, but song lyrics often lead to a story. I’ve heard it said that music stirs up memories–memories of a particular person or event in your life, whether joyous or disheartening. I firmly believe this is true. This may seem odd to non-writers, but certain songs bring particular characters or scenes to mind. Music often inspires me to write. I place my characters in a scene and imagine a song playing in the background. The song in my head fits the scene, and my character’s actions and words could easily be a part of the lyrics.
Writers are inspired by just about everything, and inspiration comes differently for every writer. Share your thoughts. What inspires you to write?
L.M. Nelson, Author of Scrubs