I am working on a Young Adult novel series about Muses, and it deals a lot with inspiration. How do artists get inspired? Where does inspiration come from? In my fantasy novel series, inspiration comes in the form of spiritual beings who personify art–the Muses. In my own life, though, I have many different “Muses.”
Music is a huge inspiration for me. Whenever I’m working on a new novel or a new play, I will usually have massive playlists of songs that get me in the mood to write that piece. Often, I will make playlists or mixies for individual characters. Once when I directed my play, Painted, in college, I burned a copy of an album that reminded me of each character and gave them to the actors. Sometimes if I just want to do a writing exercise, I will put my iTunes on random and whatever song plays, I will free write whatever comes to mind for the duration of that song. Sometimes I will get interesting dialogue or images that lead to a story or a character.
Another thing that really inspires me is going for a walk. There is one specific park near me in Kennesaw, Georgia, and every time I go there and start walking and listening to my tunes, I immediately get tons of ideas about whatever novel or play I’m working on. I have come to associate that place with ideas and inspiration. And it gives me a little time to do some brainstorming without being able to actually write anything down, which helps me. Then when I leave the park, I can go home and jot down all of my ideas.
These are just two things that really work for me. The important thing, though, is to find out what inspires you to write. Here are a few things you can try to find your own Muses.
- Try listening to completely new music you’ve never heard before. You can find new artists on Spotify or Pandora, you can listen to some classical music, or you can turn on college radio. What does this music make you feel? What does it remind you of?
- Go to an art gallery near you. There are a lot of small art galleries where current and local artists are sharing their work. Find one or two pieces that really speak to you and write about them.
- Go for a walk in a park, in the mountains, near a lake or river, or even in your neighborhood. Pay attention to everything and everyone around you. Be an observer.
- Read or listen to audio books and pay attention to the style of writing the author uses. How does he or she use language to frame the world of the story?
- Go to a local music venue and see a random band you’ve never heard of. It will cost less than 10 bucks, and the musicians will be excited that you came to support them. (Even though you didn’t actually know who they were. But they don’t need to know that.) Pay attention to the people around you and the sounds of the songs. Jot down any phrases or images that come to mind on a napkin.
- Do something creative that you wouldn’t normally do. Make a collage. Color in a coloring book. Paint something. Sew something. Cut pictures out of magazines. Write poems on post-its and leave them places. Make a mix CD for a friend. Draw a picture. Make a scrapbook. Take photos of some place you’ve been a million times as if you were a tourist.
- Read poetry out loud.
- Make up a song about something silly like your cats or the socks that get lost in the dryer or that dude who cut you off in traffic.
- Go to the thrift store and buy an outfit you would never normally wear.
These are just a few ways that you might find inspiration whenever you are feeling stuck (or even when you’re not feeling stuck). Sometimes you just need to step outside of the normal, the routine, the ordinary. Sometimes you just need to look at things from a different perspective. It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily drama and stress of your life, whether it’s your day job, your school, your family, your relationships, etc. Sometimes this can make us feel uninspired and we have trouble getting back into a creative place. The best thing to do when you get into a place like this is to try something new. It may not inspire you to write right away, but you might just find that it inspires you to live. And I’m sure you’ll write about it later. 🙂