Sunday, October 16, 2011

October Theme: Inspiration (Stephanie Burgis)

Ever since I was seven years old, I've known I wanted my job to be: writer. But as much as my internal control freak wants to pretend that that's a normal, controllable steady job option, the truth is it's not. Writing as a career takes a ton of hard work, commitment and stubbornness...but also that will-o-the-wisp inspiration.

Once I have an idea, I can force my way through the bad days, doing the work to get my ideas onto the page even if I don't feel inspired on that particular day (or month) - but before that can happen, I need to find real inspiration somewhere to give me the ideas in the first place. Luckily, by now, at 34 years old, I've figured out some pretty reliable ways to open myself up to inspiration in the first place.

Images
I am not an artist. Ohhh, but am I not an artist. The intensity of my LACK of artistic ability cannot be overstated! In fact, that's not at all surprising, because I'm not a very visual person, in general. And yet...

...and yet, one of the best ways for me, personally, to get my brain moving with inspiration and ideas is to look at art. Back when I was working a day job in Leeds, England, I used to regularly take my lunch periods to walk around the (lovely! and free!) city art gallery, only two blocks away from my office. It always helped stir up ideas for new stories. Before I formed that habit, I used to collect postcards of art I loved from various museums and set them up around my writing area for inspiration.

Now that I live in a small town in Wales, I don't have a local art museum anymore, but I do have an online alternative: Pinterest (which, as everyone who follows my twitter account can attest, is my new obsession)! Pinterest is brilliant for anyone whose imagination is sparked by images, because it lets you collect every image that strikes you and arrange them all on virtual bulletinboards, exactly as you want to see them.

I have one board called Art I Love, where I collect art that starts my imagination going. Sometimes I open that board and just spend long minutes gazing at the collected art, passively absorbing it...and letting my subconscious get to work.

I have another board called Inspiration, which collects images that specifically make me want to get writing. I have separate boards related to different writing projects, and one more board, too...

Nature
Getting out of my house, out of town, into a forest breathing with magic - I can't imagine anything more inspiring. When I can't get out physically, I gaze at my Gorgeous Nature Photography Pinterest board to get that sense of space and breadth.

When I can, though...

Today I went to one of my favorite places in the world, the Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. If you've ever watched the TV show Merlin, you've seen the Puzzlewood, too! It's a natural choice for shows like Merlin and Doctor Who to film in, because it's filled with a sense of wonder and magic.

I sat on a bench by a cairn of stones, near massive, mossy rocks that were only half-lit by a natural forest twilight, even though it was noon and a sunny day outside the wood. Deep, vibrant green was everywhere around me. The trees loomed so high above me.

Suddenly, I wanted to write again...

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