Inspiration and Writer’s Block

Where do you find inspiration to write? That’s the question I get asked often when I tell people that I’m a writer. Not that I go around telling everyone I meet that I am a writer, of course. Well, not everyone I meet, at least.
It varies from writer to writer. Some are inspired by their dreams, like C S Lewis, where they’ll either get a number of images, or the whole plot from a dream and turn it into a piece of fiction. I’ve written like that in the past. I had two separate dreams, which I wrote as two separate stories then decided to link them together into a novel length story, titled Arabian Dreams (don’t worry, its in my to-do list). Some take inspiration from their own nightmares, as is the case with Wes Craven and his Nightmare on Elm St films. Stephen King has used some of his nightmares to build stories on too. But it’s not always that straight forward.
Anything can inspire a writer. A beautiful landscape, a shopping bag floating on the wind, a news report, a newspaper article, anything. For me a good movie or well-written piece of writing can get my creative juices flowing and my fingers begin to itch for my keyboard. I’ve invested in a nice Microsoft ergonomic keyboard and that also helps. Nothing like a nicely put together keyboard to get you in the mood for some word-smithing.

But what about writer’s block? How do you get over it? The most famous instance of writer’s block was Henry Roth, he managed to go sixty years without writing. There are a number of sites dedicated to writer’s block and provide strategies of overcoming it. My solution for it is to fix a time (10pm-1am) so your brain is prepped and ready for writing when you do sit down. This should help get over the ‘I’m really busy and can’t seem to find the time’ problem. Have a glass of water before you start, this will help your brain operate better, or grab a can of your favourite caffeine drink (hot or cold). Do something before you start writing that normally get’s your brain into creative gear (avoid the video game console, otherwise you’ll end up not writing), that is if you need to. If you not feeling particularly creative, write anyway, you can come back to it and sort it out when you’re editing. If you’re stuck on a particular piece, move to something else, e.g. short story or other writing project. But be careful you don’t fall into the trap of avoiding the difficult peice completely (why do you think its taken me this long!).
If you’ve gone completely off writing for a spell, don’t worry. If you have some other creative outlet, go ahead and indulge. I’ve been known to paint when I get a bad case of writers block. A friend of mine pulls out her bass guitar and works her fingers raw on the strings. Hopefully that should help.

There are some links below that may also prove useful.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/567/01/
http://www.sff.net/People/LisaRC/
http://www.writersblock.com/
http://www.43folders.com/2004/11/18/hack-your-way-out-of-writers-block

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