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Inspiration for the Uninspired

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The muse is a fickle being. She/He/It doesn’t always want to come out and play. Sometimes you’re on your own. I could give you the usual (and useful) tips – brainstorm, lists, and journaling – but what fun is that? Instead, here are some out of the box ideas to rev up your neurons.

People Watch

Yes, I know that sounds a little weird. (But aren’t all writers a bit weird?) What better inspiration for new characters than real life strangers? Much to my husband’s embarrassment, I often talk to random people and ask them about their lives. I’ve even been known to take their picture (with their permission.) I always let them know who I am and what I do. Most people get excited at the prospect of appearing in a novel, although I never use real names.

So if you need an idea for a new character, try watching the people you meet every day.

Artwork

Music, paintings, or even photographs can inspire an entire story. (Just ask Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.) Go to a concert. Go to an art museum. Or, if you’re a cheapskate like me, look stuff up on the internet. Monet is a personal favorite. You never know when an impressionist Water Lilies might strike the next great American novel.

Talk to a Child

As a mom to three wonderful kids, I can honestly say that children come up with the best, craziest, nonsensical ideas. Have you ever watched a kid play? They can create an entire universe out of a stuffed animal and a box of crayons. For a children’s author, speaking to a kid is gold.

If you don’t have one of your own, try borrowing a friend’s kid or go to a park. (It’s best to get the parent’s permission first lest you end up behind bars, although I’m sure speaking to fellow inmates would spark a whole new series of stories worth writing about!)

The next time you find yourself uninspired try thinking outside the box. Whether you watch the world around you, stare at a painting, or listen to children play, find inspiration through someone else’s eyes.

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