April 10, 2011

WRITING ADVICE: Mike Duran #7 – How To Be Routinely Inspired

I have never seen Mike Duran. We “met” online a couple years ago because of a little…altercation I caused by saying something less-than-nice about Christian speculative fiction on his blog. Mike, being both a spec-fic writer and editor, won me closer to his side with gentle and wise words. Since then I’ve found that Mike has lots of gentle and wise words. I’m looking at how some of them have had an impact on my own writing in these WRITING ADVICE posts. (Quotes are used with his permission.) He also participates in “ONE OF WRITER'S DIGEST 101 MOST VALUABLE WEBSITES FOR WRITERS, 2008 & 2010”, NOVEL JOURNEY at http://noveljourney.blogspot.com/. The original article for THIS entry is here: http://mikeduran.com/?p=7565

What is it that inspires a writer? (You may choose only one answer)

a) routine

b) it strikes randomly like lightning, so fly a kite

c) “whatever works for ya, babe!”

d) make a schedule that accommodates muses

e) none of the above

Despite Mike Duran’s advice and observations, I’m going to have to pick e) none of the above.

I believe that how a writer lives their life inspires them to write.

“How can I live my life for inspiration if I write horror? I don’t think I’d LIKE to live that kind of life!”

“How can I live my life for inspiration if I write murder mysteries? No one’s ever killed me and I’m pretty good on that sixth Commandment!”

“How can I live my life for inspiration if I write hard science fiction? I, uh, have neither been to an alien world nor fought an alien starship…Not since I was abducted by aliens as a child, anyway.”

To demonstrate the main way I come up with ideas, I accepted a challenge from a writer friend of mine to put my money where my mouth was: take one of the books from his inventory and use it to generate ideas.

I wrote a series on it and if you’re interested in reading the whole set, you can go here: http://thefridaychallenge.blogspot.com/2010/09/where-do-you-get-your-ideas-part-3.html

The upshot of the articles was that I use whatever I’m reading to generate ideas. The book I was using, though a purely science history of the AIDS epidemic, forced me to be creative in order to generate some fantasy and speculative fiction ideas. The horror ideas were easy, unfortunately.

I also write for children and young adult/teens. I’ve written historical fiction (gleaned from a camping trip to Banning State Park near Hinckley, Minnesota) where I discovered the Great Hinckley Fire and wrote both an unpublished novel and a CRICKET MAGAZINE short story plus a fact article. My book (still available after thirteen years!) came from kids’ sermons I started doing at a church I attended as a new husband and father.

My contention is that inspiration comes from how you live your life. While you could probably argue that in order to do the Great Hinckley Fire story or SIMPLE SCIENCE SERMONS FOR BIG AND LITTLE KIDS I had a lightning strike moment or the “muse” moved me (did you know that the root word for “muse” is the same one as for “amusing”?) or some routine (“routine” is a word that doesn’t cross my life much any more) allowed for me to write. I would argue that the answer – at lease for me, and I suspect for most people – is that how you live everyday life is what inspires you to write.

What story do YOU see in the image above -- an everyday view of garbage cans under a bridge?

image: http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5103/5572424604_b5df75790e.jpg

No comments: