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Ideas and Writer’s Block

November 13, 2012

Where do ideas come from? The inspired writer might say, “Everywhere!” But what about when you are uninspired? Well, I guess one retrieves those crumpled papers from the rubbish and looks there, under the rug, or in a hat, and tries to create new, fresh ideas from those he’s already used. Seek and ye shall find? Not always. I remember those times of crossing out and rewriting the same line over and over … and over. But let me get back to the first topic–when the writer’s brain is firing on all pistons. Then, yes! Ideas come from everywhere (disclaimer to what I’m selling: they won’t always be good ideas). To procure the ideas that  are just floating around everywhere: let me start with thievery. Stealing from people’s lives, their ideas, books, movies, articles, T.V. shows. Note: I do not mean unauthorized biographies or plagiarism, in fact, I strongly discourage that sort of thing! But have you ever been listening to someone tell a personal story and thought to yourself: with a little bit of tweaking and fictionalizing, it would make a decent part of a story? Have you ever read a book and it affected you profoundly? This happened to me recently with The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and I thought I could tell a different type of story in a similar tone or a different setting, such as a mental hospital. (I’ve been in one, so I know what it is like; otherwise, a little eager studying will do the trick.) The characters in my head have been a bit sardonic and depressed lately, as am I, so if I can intertwine humor into some of these awful thoughts I have, it could make it a more interesting/pleasant read. Ever tried to describe something the way you saw it in a movie? An explosion, for example? That is what I mean by stealing–take what others offer and be inspired to create your own.

Then there’s the experience, the observance, the question (this can get complex, for often Q’s lead to more Q’s). Let me go with the question: This form of inspiration happens more often in my poetry but with stories as well, A story I’m developing/working on began with this Q: if a man was going crazy and finally lost his mind would he be set free? This led to another Q: what would it take and what is the point at which a man has finally lost his mind? I know that sometimes, I rather flash in and out of madness. If a man thinks about death every other day and goes so far as to plan it–if he did kill himself, my story would be over. So, to answer this Q, I have to get him to just that point, and I know what it feels like… so this is when I become a thief! From the newspapers, the military section where I read so and so did this. The local section, front page–stuff that makes you say– “Jeesh, that’s madness. It really is a crazy, mixed-up world!” And us writers will never cure it, but at least we can elucidate it in serious work and entertain in others.

For writer’s block my suggestion is this, hard as it may be: put the pen down a while and let your subconscious mind do most of the work. Smell the flowers, watch the birds. And it might just happen like, POW!! I got it… Yes! Then write passionately.


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