Getting Inspired

“So how did you come up with the name Nillium Neems?”

“Hey, I like that one monster in your first novel, how did you come up with the idea?”

“What inspires you when you’re writing?”

And so on. I’ve been asked a lot of questions along those lines, that all narrow down to two words. How did you get inspired. Okay, maybe that’s five words, but I was looking at the title of this post and just saw two. So sue me.

Anyways, here are my humble secrets on getting inspired to write. Also bear in mind, my techniques could apply to any kind of artwork you do, so keep reading even if you’re not a writer. We’re all artists at heart.

My main technique I shall call ‘Floating’. Since I’m having to explain things here, I guess I have an excuse to come up with cool names. Floating consists of being attention deficit and schizophrenic. And yes, I’m serious.

Open Google, pick the first mildly interesting thing that pops into your mind, search for it, and read whatever articles jump out at you. You don’t need to even think, just type. Let’s say you’ve been watching a movie about dinosaurs. Google dinosaur. Google Real Life Dinosaurs. Google whatever interested you about the movie. For instance I was just watching an episode of House, sat down at Starbucks to do some writing, lost complete focus on what I was supposed to be doing, and googled Rare and Weird Diseases. Five minutes worth of light reading and I have INSPIRATION.

It’s not hard. It didn’t even take that long. And you don’t need to be an expert. Literally in a single sitting I can bounce from random Google search to random search, just collecting little pieces for my mind to store. You can always go back for more indepth research once you choose something and run with it.

And ‘Floating’ doesn’t just mean Google searches or your favorite movies. I snag little snippets of ideas from books I read, from people I see, from food I’ve eaten, honestly just about everything. If something interests you, if something INSPIRES your mind to keep thinking about it, hey, maybe it will do the same for your reader. Inspiration is just another word for interesting, as far as I’m concerned.

Now for my second technique. This one is even easier. You’ve done it at school, at work, pretty much everywhere. It’s called Day Dreaming. Yep, that’s a legitimate technique, at least in Francisco Land.

Sometimes when I am trying to decided how something in a story goes, or trying to create a new character, or change one of the ones I have, I will find a comfy chair, lean back, and close my eyes. I’ll just rest. Rest, and visually try to picture my character, the scene, whatever it is I’m trying to work on.

It helps me focus, helps me get centered, and just helps me get stuff done. Some of my best ideas have come from sitting in a chair with my eyes closed, almost half-asleep for twenty minutes. Even if you accidently do fall asleep, actual dreaming could be counted as a third technique, ha ha.

So, to wrap this up, getting inspired, or ‘finding inspiration’ is not as hard as a lot of folks would have you think. Or even as you yourself have always thought. Just don’t stress about it, and go with it, even if your inspirational new idea sounds dumb.

I’ll talk a little bit more in my next article about what to do if you still can’t get inspired. Though I’ll leave you with this little hint for now. The sentence “I just can’t seem to get inspired” is usually just a synonym for “I don’t have any ideas that I think people will like”.

Till next time!

~ Francisco

Plot or No Plot? Hmm

A few weeks ago, I came up with the brilliant idea of writing a short story for kindle. My gameplan being, that I could finish it within a week or two (a deadline I already… missed), sell it for 99 cents, and use it to promote my book series. To make it even easier on myself, I was going to make the entire story one long chase scene, which would require barely any plot.
And it worked! My story was easy to write, it read well, it was entertaining, and all seemed dandy in poet land (that’s where I live 🙂 ). Until I started adding a plot, that is…
I have an innate love of plot twists, so during the final confrontation scene that took place in the monsters lair, I suddenly felt the urge to add all of the plot that was missing from the rest of the story. Let me adlib a little here.
[Character walks into the room and sees a robed figure kneeling over a pile of bodies]
“Oh Noes!” she gasps. “It was you all along?”
“Bwa ha ha!” replies the person who has just been introduced for the first time in the plot. “It is I!”
Hands to her mouth in horror, heroine stumbles backwards.
“But… Why!?”
Lots and lots of dialogue ensues, revealing that the monster is an evil Native American herb spirit, and that the villainess can control it because she has a magic root thing. For reasons. Yeah, that’s what happenes when you randomly google Native American Myths.
So, quite literally since I was on the last chapter, I tripped at the finish line. My whole story fell apart since I was trying to cram a plot into the very end and have it all make sense with the rest of the story. Well that didn’t work.
Slightly put out, I gave myself a day or two to think things over, and then rewrote the story. But with a plot expertly woven in from the very beginning. Surely nothing could stop me. Or thus I thought. After the first thousand words, it soon became apparent to me that I would be able to use none of the old draft. Not only that, but that I had just changed the entire project.
It went from ‘enjoyable yet ultimately simply chase scene’ to ‘screwball version of a real myth crammed into modern day’. Which would have worked, mind you, but it would become a much more time-consuming project then initially planned. And a wholly different story in the process!
And now as I sit here, having safely removed any trace of a plot from my initial story and finding that it once again nears completion, I left to ponder. Is a plot always a good thing? Or sometimes, even if well done, does it just get in the way? Hmm.
Guess we’ll find out once I finish the second version of my story (with plot), and see which one sells better. It will be an experiment!
“Hey kids, which do you like better?”
Or something like that, ha ha. Welp, that about ends my random little writers rant. To plot or not to plot. That is the question!