Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Source

Writer's Block or Revision Block... what do you do to get over it? What inspires you to write or want to write???

I used to write really fast, still do sometimes, but I find that I get distracted by new ideas. Like, I'll be working on my new book and then POW! a new idea pops up. Rather than continuing what I was doing, I stop and write down the new idea. Then a chapter to go along with it. Eventually my main book is in the same state, but I've started four other ones!

My files are becoming a graveyard of ideas.

I know some writers who like to read to get inspired. That doesn't work for me. Some say when they're depressed they write. Naw. Doesn't work for me either. I'm finding, the thing that has inspired me most is other writers.

Reading an excerpt from a friend, hearing about a great book deal, getting an email from one of my dear critique partners saying, "Where the heck is the next chapter, Suz??"

But I'd love to know about you!!! From where do you draw your writing inspiration???



sharpierae said...

I wish I knew what inspires me to write. I could use some of that pixie glitter right now. I usually plough away obsessively on one idea until it's done... but I'm still rewriting a manuscript I've proclaimed "done" numerous times. I think I keep going because I want to be finished and really really mean it.

Otherwise, I'm inspired by quirky science news or anything I don't "get". Like why does she fall for those kinds of guys? or where are all the honeybee corpses? or how will we ever survive the collapse of civilization? I get excited about finding stories that explore weird stuff.

Or something.

Sage said...

What you're calling inspiration here, I'd call motivation. Sounds like for you, inspiration--that initial spark of an idea--is easy to come by, it's the motivation to finish that comes from other writers? Sometimes I need what I consider inspiration, other times motivation.

Those first sparks (or later sparks that change the novel) come from all over. Dreams, other works of fiction, playing games. I was once inspired by a license plate (I read incorrectly, no less). My newest WIP was inspired by playing with the backstory of a minor character in another novel. This was after a few months of whining "I need an idea!" Just woke up and had a character similar to the minor one.

Once I get into the novel, I can get writer's block. Usually it's in the form of "You can't write/This is the same thing you've already written" or I just get distracted. I don't *usually* share until I'm done, so readers urging me on doesn't happen (although, I did it for my last novel and must say it was very motivating). I participate in NaNoWriMo, and having that deadline is motivating, not to mention all the other writers writing with you and the support/competition of getting that novel done in time.

But my last writer's block was overcome with music. And (other than NaNo), I'd say music is the single source of inspiration/motivation when I get stuck. If I find the perfect song for a scene, I find that passion to write it, and I want to get there. I drive forward through the novel until I'm there (or just skip ahead sometimes, but I personally find that works less well in getting past writer's block). I make up a soundtrack while I write (usually finish them close together) and listening to that can really get me excited for the novel. It also helps me get my plot and character development straight when a novel is taking a while (I don't outline, but I plan in my head). And there are times that it inspires something new. "This is what I'm trying to convey for this character! Why haven't I written her a scene that shows this?" Then I do.

bethany said...

I dunno. I do like finishing things, so that motivates me a little bit. But I like starting new things more than I like finishing things. :). I think right now that getting a new book cover is motivating me. If I can finish my book, my agent will send it to my editor, and if my editor loves it and buys it, then there will be a book cover. Having gotten used to the cover of Handcuffs, the mystery of what this new book might look like is a powerful motivator.

Inspiration? Sometimes books do it, I guess (mostly they make me feel insecure).

Having Critique Partners who are moving along at the same pace as you is probably the best bet. But since both of mine are on different tracks, I probably need new ones.

hannah said...

I'm with Sage on this one--it's always music for me. Usually a song I've heard a million times that I'll start to listen to differently. In fact...almost every single one of my mss has been inspired by a song. The one that isn't--Break--was inspired by a movie (Into The Wild--don't even ask me to explain the connection there...reaaaally convoluted.)

Birthday Cake came from "The Freshman" by the Verve Pipe. These Humans came from "Together We'll Ring In The New Year" by Motion City Soundtrack. Invincible Summer came from "Not Just Sometimes but Always" by Idlewild. And my WIP came from "Your Ex-Lover is Dead" by Stars.

althrasher said...

As far as the start of a story, my mind kind of says something to itself like, "Hey, what if (such and such?)"
Then I dismiss it as "Don't be ridiculous."

"Well, maybe..."

"It's dumb."

"But what if..."

And it kind of goes from there. I don't have a problem finishing things if I like them--I don't really get stuck very often, at least not for more than a day or two. If I do, I just delete and rewrite the last thing I wrote.

Daisy Whitney said...

I get my best inspiration when I walk my dog sans ipod, sans phone...when my head is clear and no electronic information is blaring into it, I either come up with ideas or invariably figure out the next chapter of the WIP in two seconds

Trish Doller said...

Talking to someone about my story or my characters usually gets my excitement going again.

Nancy said...

Don't see it as a graveyard of ideas, Suz. It's a nesting place, with all those literary eggsy just waiting for a space someday to hatch.

I usually have to have someone else wanting to see my work for me to keep on it (like, for instance, my agent, who says I should send chapters from my new novel--gulp). That's a nice little singeing, I mean toasty, fire under my desk to keep me typing away.