Inspiration can turn up in the funniest places. Whether it’s a spark of an idea or the reassurance that no story comes out perfect on the first try, writing can jump out at you from almost anywhere. As Marian Allen recently wrote in an excellent post on her blog, “Everything is writing.” I heartily concur.
Some of the odd places I’ve found inspiration in the past few months:
- The special features on the Pixar movies A Bug’s Life, Toy Story, and Toy Story 2. The Blu-Ray releases of these films have a whole lot about the team’s writing and design process, with the writers and artists talking about how the story and characters evolved and changed in the process of working on it. My husband and I are both Pixar buffs, both love the characters and the storytelling, and were interested partly because of that, and partly because, as writers, it’s always nice to know that work you admire didn’t work perfectly to begin with…that they, too, had to cut characters, scrap ideas, change stuff around, alter the tone, and all the stuff that we have to do, too.
- Cookbooks. I have recently been trying out new recipes, and as a result, noticed that a set of my cookbooks has highly useful information about the history of each cuisine in the introduction, followed up by a two-page spread about individual ingredients, their source, history, flavor, etc. This is an awesome little tool for use in building my fantasy world up. No, I won’t put all that history in, but the more you know, the better you can put yourself into the world you write about – and that authority comes through on the page, making it more believable to your readers.
- My day job. Working at a locally-owned coffee shop with a roastery here in town, I’ve found out a heck of a lot about coffee and how it goes from a little white bean to a cup of liquid life-force. Since my NaNoWriMo project for this November involves a semi-Italian world, and coffee is Kind of a Big Deal in Italy, this is all grist for the mill (or should that be beans for the roaster?)
- Just being present for real-life moments and experiences. Paying attention to what the world around me looks like, smells like, how the air feels, who’s around, what they’re doing, how they’re interacting with other people, how someone I’m talking to thinks about things, what’s important to them, where their dichotomies are. It doesn’t hurt that I went on a vacation to a beautiful place recently and had every reason to be paying wholehearted attention to the world around me!
- Superhero movies. For some reason, these always get me thinking about writing. I don’t know why – the ideas I have while watching one have nothing to do with the movie itself, or heroes or villains, either. But for some reason, superhero movies get my brain in gear to write. Possibly because they’re exciting and usually beautifully shot, or the fact that the heroes and villains are generally parallels of one another, and I enjoy that in a protagonist/antagonist team. Whatever the reason, I’m well aware that if I’m feeling blah about working on a project, I can watch a Batman movie or a Spiderman movie or a Fantastic Four movie (whether it’s a good movie or not) and I’ll be bouncing off the walls, ready to write. Superhero movies may not do this for you, but be on the lookout for anything that does have this effect on you, whether it makes sense or not! And then use it to your advantage when you find it.