This past weekend, I was looking at some literary magazines and found one that I really liked. I even ended up buying an issue of it to read the submissions. After mulling over what I might want to submit to them though, I came up empty.
I set out to write a short story but felt unsatisfied. Short stories are really an art and I think every budding writer should start out with short stories. Stephen King did.
Learning the art of the short story is something I want to do. Usually, I’m full of ideas. Those ideas don’t always pan out though. I tried another approach and when I did the Beatles song “She’s Leaving Home” sprang to mind as inspiration for the story.
This snowballed and I Googled “songs for story inspiration”, which led me to this article called “Let Song Lyrics Inspire Your Next Story” by Jennifer Blanchard on how you can use music as a writing prompt.
Lately, it feels as if there’s no water in the well–if you catch my drift. It feels as if there’s nothing flowing. It made me realize that I have to go and look for inspiration–that it doesn’t always pop up out of nowhere. You have to be on the lookout for that idea and fill your mind.
These are some activities that help me:
- Browsing through Pinterest photos and pining them for later reference.
- Studying song lyrics and interpreting their meaning. It’s amazing how many different ways a lyric can be interpreted.
- Admiring artwork, especially Waterhouse paintings. These are really beautiful.
- Reading and analyzing writers who are published in these magazines. When you read their work, you get a feel for the style the magazine editors look for in narratives pieces. We shouldn’t ever mimic their ideas but instead the techniques and tools these writers use.
Already I feel more inspired and I feel that I have a starting point. I’ve learned that stories don’t always have to come from personal experiences but from the sounds, sights and people around us. As writers, we can certainly bring our own experiences to a story but we can also fill in the gaps with our imagination.
What tools do you use for inspiration when you’re feeling lost?