The Process · writing

How I Get (and Stay) Inspired

I’m going to start writing about writing. Writing has been my first love and one of the main reasons why I started blogging. I’ve written so many times about why I love writing and why I want to make it my career. The most natural of steps, it seems, would be writing about my process and what goes on when I sit down to write a book. And for that, we must go to the beginning: inspiration for a book idea.

Getting inspired—for just about anything but especially writing—is exciting. There’s nothing quite like the moment when you feel like you thought up the best idea you’ve ever had. I get that feeling every time I think of a new book idea. Most of the time those ideas come as dreams or half-sleep-half-awake musings, and I usually forget them by the time I’m ready to sit down and put words on the page. The ideas that stick, though, one of the forty sitting in my writing queue, have come from a variety of places.

Most often, I get my inspiration—and a little bit of drive—to sit down and write during and after I finish a reading a book. As I’m reading and I hit really good parts, it pushes me to want to write something like that. Something where a character or a plot point or something really connects with the reader. I start to think about my characters and their stories and how I want to work on them. And holding a physical book makes me want to be published so that I can hold my own book in my hands.

The inspiration for specific books depends on where the book started out. Sometimes I’m inspired to write a certain character and the rest of the book builds around them. Other times, it’s the other way around: I think of the plot and the characters get dropped in once it gets developed. Sometimes, it’s a little of both and a little bit of other things that fall into place together.

The novel that I’m currently trying to publish is called What Happens After Midnight, whose main character and romantic plot is loosely based off the 2014 remake of Endless Love. The conflict is based off some random piece I started writing for a different book that took a turn in a different direction. It no longer fit in that book and, instead, fit in What Happens After Midnight better. The setting was based on a photo I saw on Tumblr. I follow a blog that posts pictures of beautiful houses and as soon as I saw it, I fell in love. I built the town around that house. Everything else just came as I started writing. In this case, I got little pieces of inspiration that all started out as separate entities and the more I thought about it, the more they began meshing together. Inspiration can come from anywhere, especially when you’re not thinking about it. One picture can create an entire town.

Staying inspired, for me, is one the hardest parts of writing. I’m often so excited in the beginning that I crank out the first chapter and then the second and then the third and I kind of lose steam. Sometimes these books fall so far to the wayside that when I go back to them, I don’t even know what my original thought process was. Sometimes, I go back to them and I remember why I wanted to write the story and I get a half-wind of inspiration and drive and work at it again. Even in those situations, when I’m renewed, it can be hard to stick by it.

When I’m feeling low on inspiration, I give myself time. Forcing my work never produces anything that I’m proud of. If I’m not in the headspace to write, I go do something else. Reading, working on the blog, watching Netflix, playing with my dog, scroll through social media, whatever, et cetera. It clears my mind and somewhere in there, I get the feeling of wanting to write again.

I also inspire myself with things I’ve written in the past. There are stories and short excerpts that I’m really proud of and every time I read them I can’t believe they came from me. This has been the biggest help when I need a nudge in the right direction.  I go back and read them and remind myself that I can produce something great that I really like.

Getting inspired and staying there is equal parts exciting and frustrating, but isn’t that the fun of it?

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