For the past seven years, I've been writing a novel. I know what you're thinking, "Seven years? Is the chick crazy?" To answer your question, Yes, I am 100% crazy. The story I've been writing has changed so many times. It began with too many characters and then too little. It was once set in America, then it changed to Korea. It began as a coming of age story, then evolved to a love story and now it's a combination of both. I re-wrote the first draft more times than I could count. Then, sometime in my fourth year, I scrapped it and started a second draft. Up until recently, I was writing the second draft. In November, I tossed that out the window and started all over again. Currently, I'm on my third draft and its nothing like the original story, but I'm glad how it's progressed.
I have a very vague idea of what the story is about, but the when and how, is still to be determined. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. There are some nights where I've been very inspired and the story just flows out. It's such a euphoric feeling. I haven't written like this in years. It's like the story is already written and I'm trying to catch up. Then, there are other days where I can't put down a single word. Those days are the worst and come more often then I would like. Thankfully, I've discovered a few ways to spark inspiration and decided to share with all of you.
1. Make a playlist of songs that resemble your characters.
The other day, I was sitting on the bus and my music was on shuffle. Usually, I don't listen to the words of songs, just the melody and the way it sounds. That morning, a song caught my attention. It's like the words broke through and reached inside me. The song resonated with me so completely that I almost started crying. The song was a perfect description of my main characters struggle. For those three minutes, I was my main character and felt the same emotions. It was an amazing experience and later I wrote about 1800 words.
2. Create Pinterest boards specifically for your characters.
Sometimes, I can't visualize my characters. I know what they like and how they dress, but when I'm in the thick of writing a story and at my wits end, it's helpful to have something to look at. Then I can focus on the descriptive part of my writing. I can pin anything about the character on their specific board, their favorite books or what they would wear. It's a valuable tool that can expand and grow as your character is fleshed out.
3. Play your favorite films in the background while you're writing.
I always listen to music when I'm writing. I cannot function without music, but sometimes I get tired of it. When I want variety, I play movies. I tend to put on Wes Anderson movies. I put the volume down low, but can still hear it. Since I know his films quite well, I can write while it's playing. When a scene that I particularly enjoy comes on, I can take a break and watch it. I get a visual overload as well as examples of dialogue. It helps to be able to take a break in the middle of writing.
4. Step away from the computer and go outside.
I know that when I've been sitting at a computer for eight hours and nothing is flowing, a change of scenery can help. I tend to just sit and ruminate at my computer for hours. I don't know how to quit. I can work on things for a whole day and only get up to eat and use the bathroom. Although this can be a good thing, it doesn't mean the quality of my writing is good. I like to go outside, find a place to sit and people watch. Markus and I loved to people watch back home, but people watching in Korea is nothing like it is in America. I've gotten so much inspiration from experiencing a new culture.
5. Re-read your favorite books, but pay attention to the details.
I love re-reading my favorite books. One of my favorite writers is Sarah Addison Allen. Her books are very whimsical and much more than love stories. She's a great writer and she has a great writing style. Sometimes, I re-read books, but only the bits that I like. This year, I started re-reading my favorite books, but looking for the things that you didn't notice before. Like, how does the author describe their characters? What are the characters movement while they're talking? It's these little details that we sometimes read quickly, but are important to the story.
So, dear readers, these are the ways that I spark my creativity. I hope that they helped you! Do you have any interesting ways that you find inspiration? If you do, please share in the comments!
Cute drawing of Markus and I/ Hairy at the Heels