The blog of author Harper Alexander

What Inspires Writers


A couple weekends ago, I had the chance to visit with a cousin that I have not seen in ages, and over dinner as we were talking about my writing he asked me what inspires me.  It was a serious question, the kind that seemed to be seeking some profound answer.

I found that I had no idea how to answer, at least when put on the spot.

After thinking about it, of course (for a few days), the answers did begin to come to me.  At the time I was able to identify ‘music’ and ‘reading other books’ as points for inspiration, but that is by no means any kind of exhaustive list of where we as writers get inspiration.  (Actually, my first answer was ‘everything’, but he wanted me to be more specific.  He said: “like what? Give me an example”, and that’s when the ‘music’ and ‘reading other books’ came out.)  But ‘everything’ is actually a very true answer.

For the sake of giving some specifics, though, (perhaps for the sake of knowing what you might turn to in order to cure a case of writers’ block), it seemed worthwhile to think more about his question and come up with a list.  Here are some of those things that I came up with, that inspire me:

Music.  This is a great way to give yourself a boost when you’re just ‘not feeling it’, because music stimulates all kinds of emotions.  But it also seems to just be generally inspiring, to the point of even creating pictures in my head, as if I can imagine a scene from a movie that a given song might go to.

Speaking of movies: movies themselves!  Same as ‘reading other books’ inspires me, movies do the same thing.  As my cousin put it to generalize my answer: “So, other people’s creativity.”  Yes.

Therefore, along those lines, we can add art itself to the list.  Browsing through fantasy art often really inspires me to get back into that type of world.  Like – how could I ever have wanted to leave?

I don’t know if anyone else shares this one, but along with reading other books, for me, comes the simple act of keeping a book next to me when I write.  I’ll pause writing every few minutes to pick up the book, look over the cover, ruffle through the pages – even smell them – and this simple act often gets me going again.  I’m not sure why this one works.  Perhaps it has something to do with reminding myself how awesome the finished product is going to be, how if I keep going I can be just like this other author, and my book can end up in someone else’s hands.

Pinterest.  Haha.  Yeah, aside from browsing fantasy art specifically, I often browse Pinterest for a random smattering of ideas, and there’s so much stuff out there that it often works.

Daydreaming.  This doesn’t work for me as often anymore, but I think that has something to do with life being more stressful these days.  However, there’s nothing like a good daydream.  This used to work especially well for me on long car rides.

People-watching.  If nothing else, it’s very interesting.

Any of the above two things combined.  Listening to music WHILE I browse fantasy art?  Whew!  Then I really get going.

I should probably also mention dreams.  This is not exactly a way to go about beating writer’s block, because you can’t just command yourself to have some awesome dream, but a lot of my inspiration does in fact come from dreams.  A number of my titles were born SOLELY from dreams.

What other forms of inspiration work for you guys?  Anything I haven’t mentioned here? (I may have left some out that I meant to put in, too…)


5 thoughts on “What Inspires Writers

  1. Pingback: ……the Music Connection….. « Sex, Spirit, Soul Mates and Chocolate….Ivonne's Journey

  2. I like to walk. There’s something about the monotony of it that concentrates the mind for me.

  3. Dreams are a great inspiration and I can’t write without music!!!

  4. Pingback: Reading Makes You Human: Some Recommendations From A Written Word Junkie « The Narcissistic Anthropologist

  5. Pingback: Before you write your first book. « Writer Writing.

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