I was writing a short story yesterday – well trying to write one actually – and it was like wading through treacle. There was nothing actually wrong with it, I mean the words were OK, but I was not enjoying it at all. I got to 800 words and realised I didn’t know how to end it, and that’s when I realised that actually there was no plot – this has happened to me a few times lately. OK, so plot isn’t a major problem, I can quite often engineer one and insert earlier signposts into the story. But yesterday this didn’t work either. I just couldn’t understand why I was having this problem.
And then it hit me in a flash (sorry for cliche) what the answer actually was I was not inspired. I was not inspired because I didn’t feel anything. I had no emotion on which to hang the story.
I don’t know about you, but I always have to be emotionally engaged to write a decent short story. Or to write a decent anything come to that. As soon as I realised this, I abandoned the story I was writing and went back to one I was emotionally engaged with, but that I hadn’t finished. Oh the difference was amazing.
And yes, I’ve just finished it. And yes I’ll go back to the other one some time, but not before I find a way of becoming emotionally engaged with it.
So, how do you find inspiration and hence emotional engagement with your work. Here are three of the ways I do it:
Music – borrow emotion from music – put on a tune you really connect with, feel the emotion and transfer it to the page.
Other writers – last night I went back to my writing class after the Christmas break. Listening to other writers and reading my work to other writers is amazingly inspiring and very motivating. If you don’t go to a class, then maybe you could do a story swap online with another writer, or hold a manuscript evening at your house where everyone brings something to read.
Read – reading something very, very good also works for me. I’m the type of reader who gets motivated by other writers’ brilliance. Every time I read a brilliant short story I think, one day, I’ll be able to write something as good as that.
How do you get inspired? I’d love to know.