Inspiration comes like a night muse: eager to reveal secrets and yet obscure.
A writer who relies on the muse often finds themselves waiting for inspiration all the while longing for a revelation to top the last one. Working writers know how recalcitrant the muse can be and find other ways to supplement the spark.
Like the thirsty traveler admonished to prime the pump before taking a drink of water, a story teller must put in a little effort prior to starting to write.
- Be observant. Look around and wonder about the things you see. Think about why something is happening and what could happen. Ask “What if?” and think about the possible outcome.
- Read. Find a book out of your usual comfort zone. Dig in and see what kinds of ideas come to mind. Consider how something might work in your story. Read something out of your element. For instance, pick up a science article and let the questions come to your mind. Sometimes ideas come out of complicated reading.
- Listen. Be a people watcher and people listener. Eavesdrop on conversations. Think about how a conversation might fit in a story. Sit at the mall and listen. Pieces of conversation can spark dialogue and allow a story to develop.
- Current Events. Follow the news and find something that might make a story. Go beyond national headlines and look for unusual stories. Avoid reporting on the event; readers appreciate it more when writers attempt to discover why an event took place.
- Use Prompts. Find a daily prompt to spark a story. Think about a word or a picture and make something out of it. Allow yourself to take the prompt down a different path and discover the story.
- Just Type. Go nuts. Type anything that comes to mind. Let you subconscious talk to you. Some of it will spark an idea; much of it will go into the trash. And don’t literally throw it away; a notebook gives you a treasure-chest of ideas for future stories.
Any of these techniques can lead to an inspirational spark. Writers can use one or all of them in combination until they have a steady stream of whisperings from their muse.
© 2018 – 2019, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.
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