Recreation is an important part of my life. When you spend 8 hours a day writing as your job, and then get home and plug into your own personal writing (or articles as a freelance writer), the brain can burn out very quickly. So I try to invest some time into other fun activities to clear the mind. This involves reading, watching movies or series, playing on the Xbox or my 3DS, listening to music, making music, playing tennis or socializing with friends. You may have noticed that I never post on weekends, because those are my “tech free” days when I put my laptop away and spend the time doing other things. We all need a break.
I spent the last week reading and watching movies, barely touching any fictional writing. I got to finally watch the Assassins Creed movie (better than I thought!), finally got around to watching the original Ghost in the Shell anime movies (mind blown), and delved into three really grand books. Here’s the fascinating thing that happened while I was engaging my mind in something other than writing; I got inspired.
This wasn’t the “I need to write this amazing idea.” kind of inspiration. It wasn’t a feeling of intense desire to create. It wasn’t incorporating what I’d just seen and read and wanted to translate it into my own novel. No, this was far more profound. I was inspired to be true to myself.
You Are What You Write
Think of the stories you have written. Think of the books you read. There is a part of you that is drawn to those particular genres, a part of you that wants to create stories around that specific topic or train of thought or idea. It’s your idea formulating, brewing, churning and growing in your mind until you put it down in a (somewhat) coherent form.
I realised, in my quest to write mind blowing stories with amazing characters and fantastical worlds, that I was losing what was most important in my writing: me. I was so focused on pleasing everyone else, I forgot about pleasing me. Two weeks ago I wrote the article “Appealing to the Reader“, and I said the following about my need to write:
I want my stories to mean something to everyone.
And I saw the following statement as a negative thing:
I was writing for myself and hoping others would enjoy the story as much as I did.
I forgot that I am part of everyone. If my stories don’t mean anything to me, then how true can I be to them? It would explain why I ended up hating the stories I was writing because at the end of the day I was writing them for everyone else and not for me. I think that’s a major mistake.
Inspiration from Recreation
I remember thinking I was fit, you know, physically, because I played tennis although at that point I hadn’t played in months. A friend suggested I join this training thing at a Nature Reserve close to where I live. So Saturday morning I drove up to the place, kitted out and ready to exercise. I actually did fairly well but I couldn’t move my arms for two weeks afterwards. I’m not exaggerating. Anyway, one of the things we had to do was run I think 5km, and I was so focused on the path in front of me, I forgot to notice the beauty around me. It was only when I intentionally looked around to take in the rising hills, the spreading flora surviving the summer heat, the gnarled trees covered in dried moss, and the varying plants around me that I noticed the surrounding beauty. Then I thought “Now I know how to describe this type of environment in my future writing.” and filed them away in my brain.
Watching Assassin’s Creed and Ghost in the Shell inspired my story telling. Both these movies have fascinating storylines that play on this idea of self. Who we are. How we perceive ourselves and the world around us. Although completely different contexts (historical fiction VS cyberpunk) they both touch on different aspects of this idea.
I read an amazing book this week called Killing Gravity by author Corey J. White. It was fast paced, written well, and carried a particular mood through each setting. I was noticing the writer’s style, how the environment was described, how characters were portrayed, the world building aspects and a number of elements that made the novella work. Not surprising that Corey stated the following for his inspiration:
I can’t remember why I decided the main character would be a psychic space witch, but when it came to thinking about how Mars’ telekinetic abilities worked and the scale of destruction she could cause, I took inspiration from Akira.
More generally, I’ll take inspiration from anything and everything, including song titles, lyrics, books, comics, articles, and graffiti.
Yesterday I wrote a 1000 word short story while listening to Gothic instrumental music from YouTube. My upcoming novella “Innocence” was inspired by an online prompt and drew elements from a number of horror books I read. Dying multiple times in Dark Souls almost spawned quite a gritty short story. Images on Deviant Art and artists I follow on Instagram inspire some of my stories.
My point is this: don’t take the things you do outside of writing for granted. Everything feeds into everything else. Pay attention to the world around you. More importantly, love what you write!
What inspires you when you’re writing? What has that inspiration led to?