by Sana Hameed, Age 15, USA
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
As a writer, inspiration is an endless game of hide and seek. The worst part is that you have no idea what you’re looking for until you finally find it. Ideas make themselves scarce when they are needed most. The key to finding inspiration is becoming familiar with good places to begin the search. Sometimes, it’s best to look to other products of the Humanities, whether it be other literary pieces, music or artwork.
We all know that the more we read, the better we write. It’s a proven fact. People often forget writing inspiration can also be found in other areas outside of literature, and it’s important to consider these areas when dealing with the infamous “writer’s block” or simply struggling to brainstorm a unique concept.
Music as Writing Inspiration
Tone can dramatically influence the impact of a piece. To set the tone, however, you need the right words with the correct connotations strung together in perfect harmony. Think of the impact you want your piece to have on a reader. Search for songs that match that tone or ask for recommendations from friends or family for new music suggestions that may inspire that particular emotion within you.
If you’re unsure, hit shuffle on a new playlist and wait for a song to come on which triggers a strong emotional reaction, whether it be the typical happy go-lucky song, tearful ballad, girl-power anthem, or a song you may completely detest upon first listen. I recommend songs you haven’t heard before because hearing a song for the first time usually leads to a more severe or dramatic emotional response than one you’ve heard a million times. When you first hear a song, you are listening closely to the structural components of the song for something to hook you.
The best part is that you do this all unconsciously. You think of the lyrics, the delivery of the singer, the viewpoint of the songwriter and interpret the message in your own way. This makes it possible for you to translate your emotional response to your own piece. As you are working towards creating your masterpiece, appreciate the components of the auditory masterpiece and the way it resonates with the listener. It may lend itself to new ideas or a new perspective that you would be able to use in your piece.
Photographs as Writing Inspiration
Photos are especially useful for themed competitions. Take jaBlog!’s January’s fiction prompt of the month into consideration. The topic “ball” could be interpreted a multitude of ways, but sometimes visuals provide an excellent source of inspiration if an idea doesn’t immediately come to mind.
If you want to stray from the cliché but don’t know how, go to Google Images or another search engine and type the keyword: “ball.” You may be surprised by the results. Ranging from the typical assortment of sports equipment to the colourful plethora of gum balls, the images provided a world of inspiration for me. You don’t have to use one of the listings, but it does help get the creative juices flowing. From the search, I was able to further brainstorm and settle on the idea of a crystal ball for my short story submission, “Destiny.” Knowing what to do and where to look sped up the process of searching for an idea and allowed me to have more time to concentrate on the development of my story.
If you don’t have a theme in mind, online photo albums or art catalogs make amazing reference materials. Ambiguous or mysterious pieces within these albums and catalogs make for great visual prompts because they allow a mental movie to begin playing in the writer’s mind with one dramatic opening scene in place. It allows for plenty of creative, directional freedom.
Imagine who could live in that woodsy cabin, why they may live there, what would happen to them. Imagine the reasons behind the colouring, the shading, the lighting and the connotations and symbolism hiding behind each aspect of the art in order to brainstorm your own messages and imagery. Just like writers, artists incorporate each part of their piece for a purpose.
Some might refer to this as “cheating” or “stealing ideas” but know that many writers, artists, and musicians look to others as a source of inspiration. Learning where to look is a crucial part of overcoming “writers’ block” and finding that spark needed to ignite your work.
Sana Hameed is constantly searching for new sources of writing inspiration.