Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Writers love to claim inspiration provides the best stories and that only when inspiration strikes can they sit down and write something that can affect the world. The problem with this assumption is that we as writers are telling ourselves to not work, but rather sit around and wait for success to come our way. The plain and simple truth is that great writers do not sit around and wait for inspiration, they work hard to find something so beautiful they must share it with the world.
I do not believe inspiration exists, but strategy does. Now that destroys all the romanticism of being a writer doesn’t it? Well if you do not like the idea of sitting down and structuring a solid business strategy for your writing then please go ahead and call it inspiration, but remember that we are looking for a different type of inspiration, one that is thoughtfully planned and executed to find the ideas we desire.
Structuring a writing strategy (inspiration finding plan) can be done through just a few steps. If we can visualize the way we plan on finding inspiration (putting it down on paper) the inspiration will come to us.
- Construct a schedule – I like to use Google Calendar for every activity I partake in during the day. Do you plan on eating dinner everyday at 6pm? Write that in your calendar for every day of the week and be as detailed as possible. What do you plan on having? Is it new? Old and boring? Maybe you’re tight on cash and need to rummage through the pantry to create something exciting and new.
- Go to places you haven’t been before – Friends and family are often the key to inspiration. After all they are the characters in your life story. Haven’t been to the beach in a while? Ask them if they want to go. No friends or family around? Checkout meetup.com and find a group of people who share the same interests as you.
- Do things you haven’t done before – Explore a new cuisine. Look up an interesting craft. Anything that is new to you can become an exciting new subject to write about.
- Interact with friends and family – This is one thing I have trouble with. I tend to think all my family gatherings are boring and tedious, but sometimes situations like these reveal strong conflict. Use the conflict in your life to strengthen your own writing. Or maybe your family/friend gatherings are something you look forward too. Use these interactions to research emotions such as joy and laughter.
- Execute your plan every week – Turn your calendar into your own personal bible. Learn to fill up all your free time and think of how each one of your appointments/interactions are going to provide a moment of inspiration for your writing.
Really, an inspiration strategy is just a plan for your social life, developing a calendar for enjoying the things you love. After all sitting at a desk and waiting for inspiration to strike is as silly as it sounds. Scheduling your own social calendar might seem unorthodox as well, but that’s why it helps to think of every activity as something that could provide a piece of inspiration for your writing.
Jot down every extracurricular activity you plan on doing in the coming week and prepare yourself for what experiences you will encounter. Even if you just plan on drinking some wine and watching a movie with a friend, ask yourself how this experience can be structured into a story. What events led to this encounter in the past? Could anything go wrong?
Every interaction you encounter during the day has a story behind it. Whether it be talking to the bank teller for a withdrawal or going rock climbing in Colorado with your brother-in-law’s extended family. Prepare for these interactions and outline the characters, plot line, story arc and conflicts in your head. Afterwards I encourage you to write your experience down and make a story out of it.
Inspiration does not strike us like a lightning bolt, but it can be found by getting caught in a thunderstorm with friends.
What simple social activities have led to inspiration for you?