I is for Inspiration

Sometimes the Muse is elusive. She's coy and temperamental. She likes to play hide-and-seek, and she prefers to tease rather than to promise.

So what do you do when the Muse hides from you? I can share a few things I do.

1. Walk the dog.

If you don't have a dog, get one. Just kidding. Well, sort of. The thing is, if you have a dog, the animal reminds you to walk him. If you don't have one, you can ignore the fact that exercise is good for your mental clarity. Anything which makes you step back from your WIP when you're tired and not thinking straight is good. And you need to take care of your body and get away from the computer. Walking is a great way to do this. You can step away for a few minutes or longer. You can listen to some music while you're walking, an audiobook, or just the sounds of nature.

2. Listen to some music.

I love writing to music, but that's not really when I actually listen to the lyrics. I cannot write and listen to lyrics. And the lyrics are what inspire me in my own writing. It's said that good writers borrow and great writers steal. Well, I like to steal lyrics. Not in the plagiarizing sense, but in the sense that the image or storyline of the song may inspire a plot or a character or it may suggest exactly what I'm trying to accomplish in a WIP. If the latter, I can apply it to my WIP when I return to it, refreshed after walking the dog. I'm working on making playlists for each of my WIPs, that way I can go to them when I feel lost and get refocused on what I thought I was aiming for.

3. People watch.

We, as writers, write about people. You need people to observe so that you can have realistic characters. You can use your friends, but that tends to be a limited field, and if your friends make constant appearances in your novels, you may start to have some unhappy friends… Go to a coffee shop, watch how people interact with each other, their looks, their clothing, their personalities. Eavesdrop. Listen to their tones as they speak to one another, their telephone conversation, the pitch and quality of their voice, etc.

4. Read a book.

Learn from the masters. The best way to do this is to read them. You can't be an author without reading.

5. Change your routine.

Feeling stuck? Step away from your routine, using any of the above options, or step outside your comfort zone. If you're a morning person, go grocery shopping at midnight. If you're a Metallica fan, go see an opera. If you're a coffee drinker, go to a bar. You get the idea. Go outside your comfort zone to get inspired. Maybe you just need a change of pace, a different environment to get you unstuck.

Where do you look for inspiration?