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Finding Inspiration

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I have mentioned that when I was still in secondary school I used to feel inspired quite a lot of the time. In fact, the majority of my current dormant ideas for stories still stem from that period of my life. Maybe it was because I was engaged in active learning (at school), or maybe it was because I had more time to pursue my interests or to muse on what I had learnt, or maybe it was just that I was a teenager and my mind was more creative then (I actually have no idea whether this might be true of teenagers, but it certainly felt like that at the time). But whatever the reason, the fact remains that it doesn’t happen automatically any more.

That’s not to say you can’t do anything about it. I have quite naturally been getting more and more involved in my various interests over the last couple of years, without any particular organised intention with it helping directly with my writing. However, it was when I was brainstorming a new idea the other day that I realised two very obvious things:

  1. I do still get inspired!
  2. why

And it is precisely to do with gathering information about things I am interested in. So I thought it would probably be a good idea to document the means I use to gather information and how it can fit into a busy schedule.

Go and find your inspiration

There are basically two ways to start gathering information that might inspire you. You can go out and get it, and (excitingly) you can get it to come to you.

The go out and get it part is fairly obvious. If someone is interested in something, what activities might you expect them to be engaged in?

  • Reading books
  • Looking out for documentaries on the tv
  • Buying dvds on the subject

They’re the things that immediately spring to my mind. It’s worth mentioning that this does not (and shouldn’t) be restricted just to documentary style productions. If you write science fiction for example, you might be interested in futuristic technologies, the way technology influences society and culture etc. But of course you are also interested in science fiction, and should be reading and watching it (I remember a university lecturer condemning the attitude that some novice writers have: “I don’t want to be influenced by another writers’ style,” they would protest. But why not? You have to be influenced by something – that’s a large part of inspiration, so you may as well be influenced by a writer you admire. It does not have to control the development of your own voice to write with, or the subjects you write about).

Other ways to go out and get your inspiration might be more niche. For example, you may be interested in ancient civilisations, so may visit museums often. Or you might enrol on a course that teaches you something about the subject you’re into. There are sure to be numerous other ways. So get commenting! Let’s build a list and see if we can surprise each other with things we hadn’t thought of.

A lot of these seem like research tasks, and they are. But, the point is, if you engross yourself in your interests (whether you are researching something specific or not), something may spark an unexpected idea for a story, or an article, or a song, or even just revealing a further area of research you would like to get into.

And, incidentally, don’t leave out writing here. Any resources on writing should also be on your radar.