1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Nothing inspires! Help!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mckk, Jul 24, 2016.

    As the title says, nothing inspires :( for whatever reason, nothing excites me. I have no picture, no idea, no story in my head, no scene I'm itching to write. All the premises that do pop into my head are cliche and I know they are, I know they're not your million dollar jackpot idea, which discourages me from writing it.

    I've reworked my WIP so many times (with multiple finished drafts, all full of so many plot holes they might as well be made of Swiss cheese) that the idea of writing another scene for it bores me to tears, because I've written it all before. Let me just add that I do think the idea is promising, I do wanna finish, but at the same time I no longer wanna write it. STUCK.

    I have no real excitement or desire for my other ideas that I started work on already. I also have no new ideas currently. And I feel the more I go do something else other than write, the harder it is to find new ideas, because I've simple stopped imagining in that direction.

    I've also stopped believing I could ever finish anything because I find it hard to flesh out ideas and plot properly. (yes, I'm reading How To books on structure and plot now) Anyway, if I never finish anything, then I feel like it's pointless to put in all that hard work to actually write.

    What do I do? :cry:
     
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  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    To spark my creativity I usually have to branch out more beyond my comfort zone. I love art so I usually go for something visual and if I like surreal things I decide why not start looking at other art forms and see if something sparks my interest. From surrealism I've looked at pop surrealism, new surrealism, graffiti art, art installations, pop art, graphic illustrations, etc. I look up things on social customs, and history. I browse blogs, and Pinterest, I take walks and visit flea markets. And watch old movies I've never watched before. And pick up children's books or non fiction just to get a different perspective.

    I'm also on a real old photo kick on Pinterest typing in depression era pictures and vintage pictures anything that jumps into my head. Every face sparks ideas for characters for me. It's not really genre related. But some of what I look at actually bends to genre's I like. Looking at pictures of baroque vases helped me fix a plot element in the Worms of Wicher-Woo. Finding a photo on Google actually gave me the idea for my WIP Falling Child Star, and the fad of upcycling helped me flesh out my plot for In The Pit.
     
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  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You're a new mom. You don't have the same 'imagining' time you used to have. Just be patient. It'll come back. When Tingka gets old enough to tell stories to her, try telling some instead of reading them. That will be fun for both of you, and may well get the creative juices flowing again.
     
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  4. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    My greatest inspiration comes from reading chapter openings - from particular books. Unfortunately it's only an instant hit of inspiration, and even if I had a document open at the same time, by the time I'd started typing, that hit would have dissipated.

    I don't know what you write, but my go-to book is a novel called The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin. It helps that it's written in 1st person (my chosen POV when writing) but the prose is so beautifully simple and straight forward, you just can't help but think, 'Man this looks so simple!'

    It's not, of course, but it's nice to read something that, even if briefly, gives you that feeling.

    Take a look for yourselves: (Can't post links for some reason, but amazon has it with the 'look inside' feature.
     
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  5. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I know what you're saying, somewhat. It's not like I get great scene ideas and have to stop everything to write them down. I actually sometimes fear that I have run out of things to write, that I will never have another really good idea, but when I sit down and do it, I manage to pull something off. I find going out and doing non-writing things inspires me to write. Life and experiences should inspire our passions. But I also know what it's like to be in a slump. Writing is a hard business and has us spending long amounts of time in solitude. If you don't want to write it, don't. If you don't want to write at all, don't. Inspiration will probably come again and you can decide how you want to channel that.

    Also, reading always gets my writing wheels turning. Tin House recently put out a great summer issue with some killer fiction in it. It's really good and might inspire you to do some storytelling of your own.
     
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  6. U.G. Ridley
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    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

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    At the very least you should take a break from the thing you are currently working on. I believe Brandon Sanderson mentioned in one of his lectures that it can be wise to leave a project alone for a while after the first or second draft is done, and start making something new. That way you'll have a fresh perspective on the other project when you come back to it; perhaps even new inspirations and things you didn't realize about the story when you first wrote it. It's good to keep things fresh if you want to keep motivation running high. You might not have any new ideas right now that you really want to write, but just try coming up with something and then just write it. At least it will be something different. I've never found myself being short of ideas I really want to write, though, so I can't say I know exactly how hard it is to be at a loss for them.
     
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  7. Dr. Mambo
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    Dr. Mambo Active Member

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    Nailed it.

    Write something else and come back later. Your main WIP isn't going anywhere. Fresh perspective will help, and the feeling you'll get after creating and completing something else could do much for your inspiration.
     
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  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thhink it depends what the problem is.

    Like if you are actually burnt on creativity, then you need a break, but it sounds like that isn't your problem.

    Personally? I think setting a project down to let it cool is a great thing to do. So you will get no gruff from me about it. I do the same thing.

    So, then actually inspiration? For me? Talking or chatting. About other peoples work or my own. Or watching movies or TV. Basically in a sense, nothing makes me more hungry to dive into the field than to watch it as an outsider.

    When a person talkes about there favorite project. It makes me even more hungry to dive into mine. Because hearing their passion for their story reminds me of my own passion. Even if it had been cooling.

    In a similar way that is why I like movies. I can't "veg" as people call it in a movie. I am consantly thinking about why a scene went the way it did and when a scene really captures me, it maes me want to write and try and capture soment else the same way.

    If ya ever want to try my method, either tell em abut yout stories(and be reminded why ya love them) or hear about mine(same reason). Ya know where I am. ;)
     
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  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This sounds to me like mild depression. I fall into slumps where my interest in creative things and hobbies wanes. Sometimes I then slide into more recognizable depression, and sometimes I just stay in that thing that I might call "creative depression" until I emerge, often for no reason that I can put my finger on.

    There's a short list of things, some general and some specific, that seem to improve this sort of slump for me. My theory is that they're things that happen to increase my personal dopamine level. Another way to look at the pattern could be that it tends to be things that add "input" for my brain to process.

    - Seeing a play at a live theater.
    - Seeing a BIG, new-to-me, movie at a movie theater.
    - Online perfume sample shopping. (Obviously specific to me.) Shopping is known to increase dopamine, and shopping perfume samples can take a looooong time. (For very little money.) I'd bet that shopping for seeds, or eBaying for collectibles, or any other sustained, contented, puttery, list-making shopping would be similar.
    - Learning something new.
    - Forcing myself to read a novel that I haven't read before, even when I don't wanna.
    - Long slow bike rides through varying scenery. By "long" I don't mean a six-week bike trip; I mean an hour or two or three.

    I know this is a weird response.
     
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  10. Johncrawfordz
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    Johncrawfordz Member

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    My ideas come from reading other books and also going outside into events. Somehow I would get inspiration from daily life, while driving and specific events (regrettably from my grandma's funeral as well a year back)

    Chickenfreak is right to a degree. I am suffering depression and ideas have been really hard to portray and flesh out while you're stuck in there. Once you're out though, thing's will come back.

    Hope this helps

    Regards
    John Crawfordz
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hmm. @Johncrawfordz's post sparks another thought. @Mckk, sometimes when I have trouble writing it seems to be because there's something that my brain wants to write about, and I'm not writing about that thing. This was true around the time of my mother's death--I was having a lot of thoughts about my mother, most of which violated that whole "don't speak ill of the dead" thing, and I wasn't writing them. Writing some of them seemed to break me out of the uninspired period to some extent, but it's entirely possible that my continuing problem with writing fiction is about the need to write a whole bunch of additional negative things about my mother.
     
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  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    One of my problems is definitely that i don't know how to write what i know i want to write - namely a redemption plot, where the themes and characters' internal struggles are the main focus but wrapped around fantasy and action. @ChickenFreak could be right about the need to write a particular thing blocking the desire to write other things. I want to finish this WIP :(

    I have never heard of or thought of 'creative depression' - or is that just another term for a slump? I definitely don't have actual depression - i get excited just fine by other things and take much pleasure in going through my daughter's photos :D it's just my writing that's suffering.

    As for letting the WIP rest - but the last time i wrote for it was almost a year ago! How long am i supposed to leave it for!? :cry:
     
  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been there. What cured me was ignoring what I thought would sell and just writing in the genre closest to my heart and way of thinking. I like science fiction and also like a good joke. Thirdly, I like to turn things on their ear to see what new ideas shake out. So once I realized it was okay to write tongue-in-cheek science fiction (like so many before me) I no longer have this problem.

    Do some soul searching. Find your oeuvre.
     
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  14. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want a really Machiavellian way to do this - stalk the #MSWL hashtag on Twitter and see what type of crazy stories agents are looking for (I've seen some seriously weird crap there).
     
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  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are there parts of it that you think of writing, but you find yourself saying, "Oh, that's too implausible, too angsty, too soap-operaish, too...." something? So that maybe your block is self-imposed but you aren't quite realizing it? Are you blocking yourself from writing what looks to you like it will be bad, or embarrassing, or embarrassingly bad, work?
     
  16. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do I want to know what that means?
     
  17. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    But more seriously - have you tried pitching the WIP? If you've got multiple drafts, try to sell it and see what other people think or get good solid reviews.

    But yeah, what other people said on sparking the creativity. Watch movies or read novels in genres you aren't normally into (my new one is Nordic Noir crime dramas and my creative mind is going nuts on how to do one with a fantasy backdrop - I'm finally reading one in novel form and my brain is jumping up and down going, "I need to try this technique! I can do that!"). Engage with new kinds of stories. Use new brain seeds.

    And I've not yet been in the position of having a repeatedly rewritten manuscript and debating whether or not to trunk it, but that's got to be painful (I've done enough Hamlet acts just debating whether to finish my WIP or whether it's un-repairable).

    Although - and I usually do this to new writers rather than people who are ahead of me on the curve - but you were in on the whole Romance/Dune readalong so I consider you enough of a forum-friend to drop the trademark Lemming semi-inspirational tough-love video clip. This one is my new favorite - good metaphor for how we probably need to treat ourselves when we get too attached to a scene or a plot or whatever that doesn't work. :p

     
  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    #MSWL is an acronym for "manuscript wish list" - literary agents use it to post "dream stories" they wish they got on Twitter.
     
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  19. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Got it ;)
     
  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @ChickenFreak - actually, feeling like something is absurd and therefore not writing in that direction is exactly why I find it hard to flesh out plots :dry: But I'm not sure what the cure for that is? This is more of a general problem rather than something specific to my WIP. In terms of my WIP, it's mostly that I can't seem to figure out what my characters did that need redemption, fearing that what I choose would be deemed too horrific to be redeemed from, and since I don't know the event, I also don't know just what it would take to redeem them. Hmm... I guess this is the same as what you just said about self-blocking because I fear people's reaction towards what I'm writing...

    @Commandante Lemming - letting go of things you love? Done that already. You can't really have multiple finished drafts without having edited and changed events and deleted entire chapters etc. As for pitching those finished drafts - no way. They don't work, plot-wise. Two writer friends, one of them @jannert, have read my WIP - jannert having read a newer draft that I never quite finished, got about halfway. The other friend read a complete draft and that's the first edited finished draft, so perhaps my WIP in its most original form. Both friends have said my story has stayed with them in some way - in fact the friend who read the first original draft told me just a few weeks ago that she's rereading it (several years since I gave it to her!) and she's never forgotten it. She's actually re-reading my terrible draft. I know there's something there.

    I just... it's just been something like 10 years since I conceived of my story and 6 since I've been actively working on it. I'm tired. I'm bored. I've lost all hope it can ever make sense, therefore ever be finished :bigfrown: And what the hell is the damn point of all that hard work if it never gets finished!? :supermad::cry:
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2016
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  21. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah I'm feeling that one after two years of writing - same exact frikkin' thing (although I did come up with this one 11 years ago so I have that time invested too)
     
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  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This isn't even including the 2-3 incomplete drafts I have at 20-40k words and 2-3 completed drafts at 80-100k words, all of which I edit as I go along, some of which I have done edits and rewrites for.

    Anyway, eek sorry to hear you're in the same boat. Are you pushing through? How are you managing?
     
  23. Vagrant Tale
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    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    I had a dream once that I was diagnosed with cancer and only had a few days to live. My biggest regret was that I didn't have the time I thought I did to write books, and wished more than anything that I could go back before I had the cancer and write when I had the time.

    Then I woke up and realized I did have the time, and I felt nothing more than a powerful desire to write. That's the feeling I draw on when I want to feel inspired. The heartbreaking emotional devastation of that feeling of being out of time is something I'll never forget.

    Maybe you should think about how the world around you will have changed, and how you may have changed. If you are going to die tomorrow, don't you wish you had finished your book yesterday?
     
  24. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would wish I'd finished my book. At the same time, I'm afraid of being a little too invested in it. Yes, you should do all you can to reach for your dreams, but if the purpose of your life is defined by your dreams - well, what if you never make it? That does happen. You might say you shouldn't think that way but it's reality, and when death comes knocking I do not want to be gripped by paralysing terror thanks to having fixated myself all my life on a single dream.

    Funnily enough, I had meningitis roughly a month ago and ended up in ICU for 2 nights and a further week of regular hospital stay, and the thing I remember is praying to God, "Let me watch my daughter grow up." She's one. Now the meningitis is over, I do feel that the experience should change me in some way. Thankfully nothing happened in the end and I'm fine now, but I do feel I want to use my time better. However, in my view time well-spent is not in writing - even though it is a good way of spending time - time truly well-spent is time spent in love and in service to God and neighbour. I've been disconnected from my church for a while now (disillusionment over some theology, disagreement over gay people, a little bored of the music, and lacking sleep thanks to having a baby which means I skipped church often this past year) - what I want is to make a return to church, and a return to God. I want to look back on my life and know that I have loved well. I want to have been a good wife, mother, daughter, and friend. I want the people around me to be left without a doubt that I love them, and that when I look back I can say I could not possibly have done more or loved them more. Still working on this.

    If writing features in that, awesome. If it doesn't... that'd be kinda a shame but at the end of the day, does it really matter that much? It matters a lot, of course, but not in the grand scheme of things, not when compared to the value of faith, people and relationships.

    Anyway so yeah, the death thing doesn't quite work for me hahahaha :p
     
  25. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe we should set each other a daily goal, Mckk. Maybe we'd be more inclined to write if it was for someone else.

    Not sure how that would assist either of our respective on-going novel attempts, but just an idea.
     
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