If you’re anything like me, you have read more than a few books in your lifetime that really resonated with you. And you’re familiar with some authors whose lives genuinely fascinated you.
Here’s an exercise to consider then. When you’re brainstorming or writing your own book project, try tapping into the legacies of these authors and their books to keep you fired up and inspired to write. But how?
Read what they wrote. See what they saw. Do what they did. Go where they went. But don’t stop there. Here are a few more ideas to adopt for some writing inspiration.
Naturally, the first step is to reread your favorite books, fiction and nonfiction alike. Take notes. Ask yourself: “What is it about these books that first drew me in?”
Then take it one step further. Glimpse into these writers’ lives. Some authors have written autobiographies or memoirs – valuable first-hand accounts of their lives. Other writers have had biographies written about them. Either way, look to the circumstances that allowed these writers to write, or compelled them to do so. Then consider what motivated them in their lives in general and how they faced the many chapters of the lives they led. You could also pay attention to the family and friends in their lives, the places they lived and the hobbies they had.
Your favorite writers’ original works, together with their autobiographies and biographies, should provide a solid foundation to get fired up. But don’t limit your writing inspiration.
You can feed your eyes and your senses to become more inspired by your favorite authors and books.
Start by watching the movies based on your chosen writers’ books, or if available, the movies that were based on their lives. While a movie is often at least partially different from the original book (or life) upon which it was based, movies are still excellent sensorial experiences that are worth drawing from. The movie version of a novel, or a particular aspect of it, could spark a whole new period of inspiration for you.
Look to more traditional art too. You could study art and design from a particular book’s era, or from when the author lived. Prepare to be moved by all the exquisite paintings, sculptures and architecture you can find in books, museums and online archives. But if you’re not sure where to start, try Wikipedia first for an introduction to different historical periods and artistic movements.
Don’t be afraid to take your curiosity down to a more personal level either. Look for historical photos to capture your imagination. Examine pictures of everyday people, everyday objects and everyday lives. Thoroughly explore the worlds that preceded you.
Above all, see how different art and visual representations can influence you and your writing work for the better.
Now it’s time for a little action. Consider: “What have your favorite authors, or their fictional characters done?”
Dream it, plan it, do it and write about it.
What actions have been important in your favorite writers’ lives or in their stories? Have they hiked a particular trail, professed their love for someone in a unique way, participated in a sport, worn a signature article of clothing, learned a unique skill or enjoyed a sumptuous dish? If it resonates with you, try it out for yourself!
While I can’t in good conscience promote any of the violent or self-destructive behaviors present in many famous books, there are still plenty of healthy but invigorating ideas from literature that are worth emulating and gaining writing inspiration from.
Make a list of as many of these literary-inspired activities as you can. Consider which of them you could realistically do and enjoy. Then go out and do them! And write about them, of course.
Setting, or where a story takes place, is a powerful element. In many books, the setting is as strong, or stronger, as any one particular character or figure.
Think about all those places that your favorite authors lived and went about their lives, and all those locations that served as the stage for their books. Where do you think of?
Do you think of a vineyard? Neat rows of trellises stretched out as far as the eye can see on rolling hills full of vines? Vibrant bursts of purple grapes peeping out amidst the leaves that have been gently kissed by the sun?
Do you think of a castle? Rough-hewn stone expertly piled high to stand strong against invaders and the test of time? Laying your hand upon the cold, thick walls and looking out the symmetrical windows at the green down below?
Do you think of a city? All those blocks of old apartment buildings rising like proud flags and wild in their expanse? All those streets crowned by trees and converging into one long embrace?
Write a list of all the places and locations that have resonated with you from your favorite books or your favorite authors’ lives. Then do some research. Some of these places may still exist and be located relatively close to you, but others may have been lost to time, or are now closed for visits, or are too far away for you to discover right now.
Go to all the places that you can. Watch and listen. Soak up the environment and all of its inspiration. Take notes. Then for those places you can’t reach, turn to books and the Internet. Look at photos and read accounts of these locations. Be inspired by these settings.
Are you ready to read what your favorite authors wrote? See what they saw? Do what they did? Go where they went? I hope you will find all the writing inspiration you need and more to create many great works of your own! But first, please share with me in the comments. Who or what inspires you and how do you plan to seek out their inspiration? Also, check out our newest online programs Writer’s Sprint, Memoir Writing Made Easy and Aspiring Author to Published Pro.