Monday, April 13, 2009

4 Sources of Writing Inspiration

1. Museums, specifically the Los Angeles County Museum of Art here on Wilshire Blvd in LA. Sprawling grounds are perfect to contemplate the shape of clouds (it's a puppy! a puppy playing! a puppy throwing up in a shoe!) while the exhibits inside give me a peek inside the working minds of creative and clever artists. I always leave with my mouth slightly agape, wondering how I can do the literary equivalent.

2. Other writers. I'm not the sort who reads a book or watches a movie and thinks, Pfft, that was crap, I can do better. I don't aspire to write "better than crap." I aspire to write "great." Or "amazing." Or "moving." Whether it's a classic by Ray Bradbury or John Steinbeck or Edith Wharton or something by a debut author, I love to be inspired to push myself deeper and the best writers do this to me.

3. Movies based on books. Taren at Chick Manifesto recently posted about this, along with some thought-provoking responses from readers. While I do honestly believe books and the movies based upon them are two entirely separate beings, I do find inspiration in the movie versions. Sometimes a screenwriter and director team can streamline a complicated novel (e.g. "Lord of the Rings" by JRR Tolkien) into something much more manageable and, in the end, understandable. I have tried many times to read LOTR and have gotten bogged down and confused but knowing that it can become the Peter Jackson movie makes me continue to try and to respect the book as I might not have before.

4. Ballet class. As you can tell from the above, I often find inspiration for writing in distinctly non-writing sources. Ballet is a physical art form, the movements codified, and yet new and different combinations are devised all the time, making the idiom more flexible than you might think. We all use the English language, yes? But you put the words in a different order than I might and your result is wildly dissimilar from mine. Not to mention the endorphins that are released during physical activity, which makes me feel really positive about my creative endeavors: never underestimate the power of positive thinking when it comes to writing.