Swoon Reads Author Sandy Hall: Desperately Seeking Inspiration
I am extraordinarily lucky. Somewhere along the line I befriended someone who is a limitless font of awesome book ideas. And not only does she have great ideas, she has no interest in writing said great ideas herself. NONE. ZERO. She HATES to write. So rather than squander these super cool ideas that she keeps coming up with, I put them in a file in my Google docs and go through the list every once in a while, adding thoughts and combining threads.
Not everyone is that lucky. I remember the good (bad?) old days when I didn’t have an endless supply of story ideas. When it seemed like I couldn’t come up with anything that I wanted to pursue. I would sit and make lists on scrap paper at work just trying to come up with something that felt right.
Here are some of the ways I’ve found inspiration in the past. I tried to go with things that aren’t on every “where to find inspiration” list. I am aware that not all of these will be practical or useful to everyone, but there might be something that you haven’t considered that could give you a hand if you’re stuck.
1. Examine what you’re obsessed with. The website you visit every day. The song that’s stuck in your head. The TV show you watch on repeat. The fanfiction trope you can’t stop thinking about. There’s a reason you’re obsessed with these things. Figure out why you connect with them, what makes you so passionate about them. There’s a reason you love them and there might be a way to weave the themes into your writing.
2. Get out of your head. Go somewhere. Anywhere. I tend to go for a walk, or to the mall, or the movies. But if you don’t have the means to physically leave, fall down a hole on YouTube or put on a Spotify playlist. Try to make it not just about reading a book or scrolling the internet. I find sometimes I need to avoid the printed word when I’m trying to come up with what I want to write.
3. Go through your phone. I know some people keep their phones neat and tidy. But it’s worth looking through. Check your notes, your photos, your screen shots, and your browsing history. Obviously you can do all this on your computer too, but I tend to be a lot more random on my phone. I have a tendency to save strange things to read later or making a note of thoughts that flicker through my brain but then I forget about moments later.
4. Stray from your usual routine. I realize this is similar to getting out of your head, but it’s also more specific. Hit a different coffee shop, drive a different route, get a different vantage point on your everyday life. It also works for your writing routine. If you always type, try handwriting. Or maybe voice dictation. Or smoke signals. Get out of the rut that you might not even recognize is a rut.
5. Keep everything. Don’t toss away any ideas as being “too out there” or “not good enough.” Because the “too out there” ones just might be the most interesting and the “not good enough” ones can always be combined to form one giant super plot. The other part of this one, is keep everything in the same place. Anything from a Google doc, to a (physical or computer) folder, a notebook, to an old jelly jar full of your hopes and dreams will work.
All of this might sound like a waste of time to some people. But if you’re literally starting from scratch and have no idea what kind of story you want to write, you need to get yourself thinking. These are just some of methods I’ve used to get myself moving in the right direction.
I apologize for this big old wall of text. Here have this cute puppy gif as a thank you for reading.