Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tips for the Selfless Writer: How to Inspire Yourself

Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (cartoon)
As I'm going through this month of NaNoWriMo, a lot of my friends are coming up to me with story updates, world-building questions, and possible even plot devices to help move their plots along.

And I don't mind. That's what friends are for, right? However, I turn to them with similar problems and they're just as stuck as I am or they have personal business to attend to. That's fine! I'm not asking them to be at my beck and call.

So, since I'm better at giving advice to others than to myself, feel free to use these tips for more than NaNoWriMo, fanfiction writers, published novelists & authors, and anyone who feels that they can't give advice to yourself but could give endless to others: I hope I solved some of your problems!

Some of these tips may work for fantasy stories but please don't disregard them anyway! It might be helpful to know later!

  • Relax. It's okay to not know everything about your characters, world, etc right away (unless you're a fanfic writer but even then you need to follow this tip). That's the beauty of a novel! Take a deep breath through the mouth and breathe out through your nose. If you have to do this over and over, that's fine. As a nervous person by nature, my mind is going a million miles per hour and it's so full of "What Ifs" even for every day situations. You're going to fail sometimes and you're going to win sometimes. And that's okay.
  • Let the characters work with you - not against. Sometimes you want to create a detailed outline, down to the words they're going to say and it doesn't help. In fact, it's one of the main reasons why I get writer's block myself. If you've put down in your outline or planned for the character to end up in the clothing store from the concession stand, let them look at the fountains. Let them look at the couple arguing. If you're trying to control every little thing your characters do, they're going to rebel. They're not going to work with you and you'll be stuck.
  • Let the world build on its own. I know it's exciting to create a world just for you where you want flying unicorns with lasers attached to their heads. But what if those unicorns want those lasers on their hooves instead? Granted, you're giving your reader (and characters) a tour of your world and some things can work however, you're also discovering the world along with them. There may be a culture you've yet to discover!
  • Always ask "Why?" or "What is the significance?" When writing, you always want to ask yourself why certain items, people, or events are important. Will it impact the story later? Why? Will this come up later in the journey or mystery? Why? And my favorite thing to do is to ask why after I answered why. Like, why is noting someone's necklace important? Because it's the amulet to the answer to the mystery. Why is it the answer to the mystery? A wizard made it important. And so on!
  • The world is ripe for inspiration! Some people may choose to not touch anything remotely relevant to their subject, and that's perfectly acceptable. However, I'm not like that. I have to eat up from my daily life to my favorite cartoons and anime. The key is not trying to figure out what's inspiration and what's not - the key, in my opinion, is finding out what inspiration helps your story progress more.
  • Most importantly, relax! No, but seriously, relax. I know you're the only one who's telling your world's and your character(s)'s story - but, especially if you think you can create more books and create a series, it's okay. Heck, even if it's just one book, it's going to flow. It's going to be fine. No, it really is!
And that's all the tips I have. If you have more, feel free to leave a comment! 

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