5 Sources of Inspiration to Get You Started on Your Next Book
“Look at the world and see what’s there. It’s very beautiful. It’s a very exciting but in some ways treacherous world, and all this goes into the writing.”Joyce Carol Oates
As a writer, it is not uncommon to feel that you’ve run out of ideas. Wanting to write, but not knowing where to begin is a feeling that is mutual to both seasoned and budding writers. Finding inspiration can be challenging; yet, it can also be the most rewarding part of the writing experience. The origin of your next creative thought can be found in countless places. What’s more, it can lie somewhere you least expect it to be. Upon finding it, the burst of creative energy can motivate you to write a book that is wonderful enough to become someone else’s source of inspiration. The following blog offers insights into finding inspiration to get you started on a new writing journey-
Observe the world around you to know what requires attention
Whether you’re planning to write fiction or non-fiction, there can be no greater source of inspiration than your contemporary reality. Sit on a bench in your nearest park and observe human behaviour and record social interactions. Read the news to acquaint yourself with prevailing issues around the globe. For instance, Khaled Hosseini was impelled to write his monumental novel The Kite Runner after watching a news story on the restrictions placed by the Taliban on the Afghanis, one of which was the ban on flying kites. When inspired by real-life events, a writer can contribute meaningfully to existing social movements. Female African-American writers like Toni Morrison had foregrounded the significance of intersectional feminism during the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s-60s. In light of the recent Black Lives Matter movement, the readership for her novels has increased even further. Therefore, books that reflect contemporary social issues resonate with a greater number of people timelessly.
Look within to find what matters to you
Introspection is the most fruitful exercise while looking for inspiration. Looking within oneself can bring to light what we feel most strongly about. It could be an aspect of our lives we wish to reflect upon or tell the world about. Drawing inspiration from one’s own experiences can create unique stories that reflect reality and are immensely relatable. For instance, Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is deeply personal, and yet universal in the concerns that it touches upon. A writer can look at the impediments that they face in society and represent the concerns of an entire social class, colour or gender. Virginia Woolf wrote A Room of One’s Own to highlight how women needed social and economic independence in order to be able to write. In doing so, she drew upon the challenges she faced as a woman writer. Her essay, while being introspective, reflected the concerns of all women who were hindered by normative views on gender roles in society.
Explore other forms of art
Sometimes, one form of art can inspire the creation of another. Paintings, films and music have the power to invoke emotions by appealing to the senses. When we listen to a piece of music, it can bring to mind images, feelings or memories that turn out to be the source of our writing. Haruki Murakami’s renowned novel Norwegian Wood is inspired by a Beatles song of the same name. Similarly, just as a painting can tell a story, one can write stories by looking at them. Creative visualisation is one of the oldest literary techniques, as it allows the free play of imagination. Dan Brown shaped the murder in his famous thriller The Da Vinci Code around Leonardo da Vinci’spainting Vitruvian Man.
Read other books to find ideas
Reading is the best way to open up our mind to new ideas. It also familiarises a writer with the existing literary tradition and enables them to think of newer possibilities. Often, a single character, setting or theme can spark our interest and become the starting point of a new book. Madeline Miller first read the Greek epic The Iliad with her mom when she was five years old. As she grew up, she kept returning to the passage where Achilles reacts to losing Patroclus and sensed that the two had shared a bond that was closer than friendship. Her novel, The Song of Achilles, is a reimagination of the classical epic which breaks the silence on the homoerotic bond between the two male characters in the original work. The novel is celebrated as a masterpiece within the LGBTQ+ community.
Explore new places and interact with diverse communities
Remaining in one place for too long can stifle creative thought. Travel brings with it the possibility of encountering new landscapes, cultures and people. This could fuel your imagination and enable you to alter your perspective, helping you write something new. Elizabeth Gilbert found food for thought in her journeys through various countries and was inspired to write her memoir Eat Pray Love. However, one doesn’t need to travel far to find inspiration, it can be found on a visit to a nearby garden or museum as well. Being among nature can ignite your sensibilities. Sometimes, it’s enough to just get the feeling that you’re on the move. For instance, writer Alexander Chee confesses that he often boards trains because that’s where he gets most of his writing done!
Inspiration is not hard to find, for it is present everywhere. The key is to have an open mind and a keen imagination. This is because inspiration isn’t always found in the seemingly “great” things. As writers, it is not difficult to be moved by the ordinary. You can choose to create a world out of what you see in the world around you. In doing so, your next book can become the source of another writer’s inspiration!