Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Writing Ideas: Inspiring Your Muse

"O for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention!" - William Shakespeare

Webster's defines a Muse as:

Muse(noun): 1.In Greek mythology, any of the nine goddesses who presided over literature and the arts and sciences. 2. the spirit regarded as inspiring a poet or artist.

muse (verb): to think or consider deeply; meditate.

Here are a few suggestions that may help awaken your muse, and get your creative juices flowing:

READ, READ, READ! A lot of times when I'm having trouble getting started--(You know the dreaded transition, we've all experienced it from time to time: Hands poised over the keyboard, but no thoughts will come, so you're stuck staring at a blinking cursor, or better yet re-organizing the sticky notes around your computer terminal)--sometimes reading can actually help spark your own creativity.

WRITE EVERY DAY: Write even if it's only for a few minutes a day. Chances are, once you get started you won't want to quit.

ALWAYS ASK YOURSELF: WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, HOW, WHY? For example:What happens in the storyline to bring your characters together? Where does your story begin? When does your story take place? How does the heroine react when she finds out her ex-fiance is moving next door? How does the jewel thief manage to escape with a bag of priceless gems without being caught? Why does bandit chose to strike at midnight?

KEEP TRAVEL BROCHURE, MAPS, AND OTHER LITERATURE ON HAND. I guess one could accurately describe me as a compulsive packrat. I like to keep an assortment of maps, travel brochures, and any other interesting newspaper or magazine clippings in my desk drawer. This helps me when I'm writing, because whenever I need some information for a particular setting I have detailed information right at my fingertips! (See, being a packrat can have its' advantages)

MAKE A LIST OF TEN THINGS THAT COULD HAPPEN IN YOUR STORY AND POST IT NEAR YOUR WRITING SPACE (Remember, this list is not set in stone. You can always revise it during the course of writing your story)


WATCH A MOVIE OR GO SEE A PLAY (See research can be lots of fun!)


GO FOR A WALK (You would be surprised how many story ideas I've come up with while taking a walk. Hint: You may want to take a small handheld recorder with you so you can easily record any ideas that you come up with, so you won't forget them by the time you get back to your desk)

LOOK AT MAGAZINES/NEWSPAPERS: This is an excellent source for ideas.

PUT YOURSELF IN YOUR CHARACTERS' SHOES: When I'm having a hard time creating a scene,I try to imagine how my characters would react in the situation. Also, I try to imagine that character's particular setting.

And my personal favorite: TAKE A FIVE MINUTE VACATION! Close your eyes, take a deep breath, relax and imagine you are someplace other than behind your desk. The beach? On top of a snow crested mountain? Wherever. Just let your imagination soar! Feel the mountain breeze ruffle through your hair? Hear the waves crashing against the shore? (A visual vacation is the next best thing to really being there!)

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