“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” - J.R.R. Tolkien
I am going to be honest with you. Last week, I was totally and completely drained. Whenever I sat down to write, I imagined a giant writer's block (a la Muppet Babies).
I had some real feelings of panic. Would I always be stuck? Would I write anything ever again? Would my metaphorical and cliche well always be dry?
Then I went to New York City, and everything changed. It was almost impossible not to get inspiration there. I took pictures in front of the Alice in Wonderland statue and had high tea at Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II. Not only was I inspired to include more whimsy in my writing (just as Lewis Carroll did), but I also remembered to include more wordplay in my novels. As if that were not enough, there was a striking photograph of young men and women pretending to be at a Mad Tea Party on the wall. While I didn't get a concrete story idea from the image, I am filing it away in the back of my mind for later. I am not sure what to do with it yet, but I know it will come into play in my writing soon.
I also saw Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (which I highly recommend to you). The production left me breathless and moved me to tears. Not only did I immediately want to pick up War and Peace, but I also felt the urge to write again. Why? Not only was the show fun, but it gave me hope. I am always a sucker for a story about mercy, grace, and redemption. It reminded me that there can be compassion and beauty in humanity.
Most importantly, attending Book Riot Live drove home the point that writing matters. Writers can give voice to the oppressed and point out social injustice. They can be advocates for just actions and policies, and they can bring hope (or at least escape). Books are not just fun things to read on the beach; they can change lives and minds. The pen is truly more powerful than the sword, and it is of the utmost importance than we remember this now. After spending two days in the presence of writers and advocates, I remembered that writing is not an option for me. It is how I am going to change the world, and I cannot in good conscience ignore the call.
I am not saying you have to book a train ticket to another city to get inspiration. But I am saying that it will never happen in front of your computer screen. Shut down your computer and do something different. Read a book in a genre that you normally don't read. Take a walk around your block. Reconnect with an old friend. Go to a museum or a movie. Just do something different away from all the noise of the internet and the numbing light of the computer screen.
Sure, it is a dangerous business to go out your front door. You might encounter a dragon (or reckless taxi drivers), but it is necessary. You aren't going to find any inspiration in your Hobbit-hole. And, more importantly, you are not going to change the world there either.
How do you get inspiration? Tell me in the comments below!