#03 When The Muses Won’t Return Your Call
Have you ever struggled to find the inspiration to write? You know you love writing, but you just can?t get to it. Every part of your being feels like its empty. So what do you do? You head over to the local shaman to gather supplies. You hop on to Google and search for ancient rituals to summon those elusive muses. Your friends and family lose all faith that you even knew how to write in the first place. You are desperate.
You light the pungent candles. The strong aromas sting your eyes, but it will all be worth it. You read the incantation and you wait?
The muses refuse to heed your call. That was your last hope. Like the rest of us, you?re stuck with the daunting task of finding ways to get inspired to write. Well search no further. In this post I share my methods that have yet to fail me.
In this post you will learn to find the inspiration to write using music, stories and life.
Music is an emotive medium. It has always filled me with some of the best ideas for stories, scenes, worlds and characters, especially when I struggle to summon these ideas on my own. Here?s what you do:
Search the interweb for genres of music you have not listen to yet. I like finding arb or quaint playlists posted by the music geniuses. The more you do this the more this strange music will find you. YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify and SoundCloud are great platforms to use to find new music. You listen to a song and the magical algorithms find similar songs. As I write this podcast I am listening to Maggie Rodger?s Tiny Desk Concert by NPR Music on YouTube. Click the link and continue reading this blog while listening to Maggie serenade your soul. Do yourself this favour.
Find music that hits you in the feels and collect it like it?s a rare Pokemon. This is music that makes you feel something. It could be sadness, happiness, contentment, relief. Insert emotion descriptor here. If the music makes you feel something, anything, add it to a playlist. Title it ?My Inspiration? or something edgy and creative.
Listen to your newly collected music hoard, song by song. As a song is playing close your eyes and allow thoughts and emotions to flow through you. Think of yourself as a conduit. Once the magic is flowing, use the word IMAGINE? and let a scene, a character, a world, an atmosphere or vibe start to fill the empty spaces. If you find magic in a particular song, keep it on repeat. The key is not to try and control the story building in your mind but rather to allow it to form itself. You are going along for the ride.
Write down the story as it appeared to you in the music. I like to repeat the song one more time and write the main ideas or plot as fast as I can. I just need the raw structure. Add this to your writing hoard to use later, alternatively, if you are in what they call FLOW, then write the damn thing. You?ve just mastered the muses.
Read books, watch televisions and movies. These are stories told through different mediums. Each story however bad has something to share or teach. Similar to our music search, find movies that are critically acclaimed not those that are there for their entertainment factor. Movies that will make you laugh or action movies probably won?t do, but if they work for you, then fantastic. They often don?t work for me.
You want to find movies with great Point-of-View (POV), dialogue, world building, characterisation and plot. This is where your high school film study class comes in useful. If you have never done one, I suggest you check one out and get yourself educated.
Find magical movies or television series and add them to your story hoard. Go through them religiously. Yes, this is me giving you permission as an author to another author to binge your favourite Netflix show, but, you are doing so in a different light. Find one, just one, quality that you appreciate. Here are some of my examples and why I love them so much:
Deadly Class:? The narration of this show is great, poetic and artistic in so many ways. The world is richly diverse and unique and begins in medias res in the grandest of ways. You are drawn in and play catch up in a strange world where you, like the protagonist are struggling to find your feet. (special features: world building, narration, plot)
Mr Robot:? I have no words for this show. It?s one of my favourites of all time. This television series plays with the concepts of Plot, untrustworthy POV, and dialogue. The story twists and turns in directions you could not have predicted and in doing so develops such rich characters.
1917:? This is a movie that won so many awards earlier this year for a reason. The movie follows two soldiers on a life or death mission to get a message to the front line across enemy lines in German-occupied France during World War I. The characterisation through dialogue, mannerisms, actions, clothes, history and environment is potent.
Watch the shows and movies you discover and immediately afterwards, write what struck you about the movie in relation to the elements of storytelling. Try to imitate it. Write a different ending. Add a character. Guess what? You?re writing!
If you are like me, you are super boring. But the world is filled with the most amazing human beings. Find one and ask them about their life story. Share some of your own so you avoid the creep factor, but you will be amazed at the things that have happened to the person you meet at a coffee shop. If you are not so bold as to ask someone for their life story, go to your local coffee shop and people watch.
Again we use the word IMAGINE. Spot a couple, or a strange and unique person and watch them. What do they say? How do they move? What are their mannerism and ticks? How do they speak? Ask yourself questions that you would if you were interviewing them. Answer the questions with whatever comes to mind. Imagine they had to tell you the truth because you slipped them truth serum. Here?s an example:
You spot a well-dress blonde woman at a coffee shop. She is sitting alone near a large window reading a thick book with a black cover. She lifts her head to stare outside the window.
Imagine, you are sitting across from her, and you have given time for the truth serum to kick in.
You ask her, ?Why are you here??
She says, ?I am hiding from my husband.?
You ask,? Why??
?I don?t want him to find out where I was last night,?
(Clearly, she is resisting the power of the truth serum, but you press on…)
?What did you do last night??
?I slept with his best friend,?
(The plot thickens?)
You get the idea. People are very interesting. They do the strangest things. You could ask our mystery woman, why she did it? How it happened? Each of us would come up with the strangest answers. Push the limits in terms of her responses. Do this and you will find you have just built a great character sketch for you to add to your story hoard.
The Big Takeaway
Inspiration is swirling around us all the time waiting to be discovered, wanting to be discovered. Most of us have turned off our child-like sense of wonder. We have stopped being in awe of the world around us. Cultivate an active imagination by using the tools above. The more you do it, the more your writer?s eye will develop and you will never struggle to find inspiration again!
If you enjoyed this blog post, please subscribe to it, and share it on all your socials. Check out my podcast The Author?s Journey for more content like this where I share the authentic author?s experience as we journey along the road to becoming the next J.R.R Tokien. For those who are interested, check out my Writing Inspiration?Playlist on YouTube.
Share how you find inspiration when the muses won?t return your call. I would love to hear from you. I appreciate your support and time and look forward to engaging with you.