Finding the inspiration to write.
New writers, experienced writers, amateur or professional —meaning you actually get paid for this stuff, at some point, will struggle to find something to write about. Even non-fiction writers may wrestle with finding new ways to express themselves so that their writing doesn’t become stale or monotonous. And yet, we do write on. Writers have unique ways of working through the times we get stuck and can’t move forward.
Sometimes it’s just a lack of focus. This is where I find myself currently –dreaming about vacation, searching travel websites… You’ve probably picked up on that from some of my latest posts! Nevertheless, I have goals set, schedules to meet, and must find a way to press on. So with that in mind, here’s something that inspires me when my muse has wandered off to somewhere warm and sunny.
If you know me, you know I love music. I’m am a rock star in my mind. Or a groupie, at a minimum. Alice Cooper’s caddy, maybe. (The godfather of shock rock is a huge golfer!) But I digress… Music can be very inspiring. Think about the music you love, your favorite song. Think about how that song makes you feel when you hear it. There are songs that make me want to dance with joy, weep in misery and every variety of emotion in between. That emotion can be translated into your writing. Here’s one way.
One of the things that I love to do is use a song lyric as a writing prompt. A line, phrase or verse can have such deep meaning and can be personal to each listener. A story can arise from pondering what that lyric says to you. Don’t even worry about what the songwriter was thinking. What memory or feelings does it conjure in you? Where were you and who were you with when you first heard that song?
This doesn’t only work for short stories or poetry. There have been times where I’ve been staring at my computer screen, halfway through a novel manuscript –even with a thoroughly plotted outline– when I’ve drawn a complete blank. What happens next? I can’t summon the words. So finding the music that matches the mood of the scene I’m writing, taking a break and just listening, can prod my imagination. A word, a phrase, or just a feeling can propel the scene forward. And boom you’re off and running again!
Want to try? Here are a few lines from some of my favorite songs. Try writing a paragraph (or longer, if you’re really inspired) that tells a story based on the line.
1) “My uncle has a country place, no one knows about…” – Red Barchetta, by Rush.
2) “He’s gonna break her heart to pieces, she don’t wanna see…” A Woman In Love, by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
-Don’t like male vocalists? How about these ladies?
3) “When it’s you I find like ghost in my mind…” – Emmylou, by First Aid Kit and speaking of Emmylou.…
4) “It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well…” –C’est La Vie, by Emmylou Harris.
Don’t like any of these? Use a line from your favorite song. Go ahead, give it a shot. If you like what you wrote, put a link in the comments. If not, no worries. I’m not starting a challenge or anything. But see if music doesn’t fire your imagination, poke an elbow your muse’s side and give you the ‘write’!
Here’s all of Red Barchetta by Rush. I love these guys! Neil Peart writes most of the lyrics for the songs and he’s an absolute god on the drums. Alex Lifeson on guitar and Geddy Lee, bassist extraordinaire, complete the trio.