Like most writers, everything in my life is a potential source for inspiration. Overhearing a conversation in a cafe. A coworker’s funny story about Alaska. A 12 hour drive through the backwoods of Florida at night after a hurricane, where the roads are covered in debris and your friend in the passenger seat keeps talking about that time their friend tried to drive through a puddle and it turned out to be a sinkhole and wow would you look at the size of that puddle just ahead?
Or: dunes migrate, so how might a city avoid being smothered by them?
Getting inspired has always been the easy part for me. There’s a mishmash of ideas pinging around in my head like atoms in a gas, and I love to do deep dives into various rabbit holes of information, so it’s only a matter of time before two of those random ideas collide and explode into a Bright Shiny Idea.
No, inspiration in general has never been difficult for me (aside from that time I was pregnant, but that’s a different story entirely).
Staying inspired is the hard part.
That’s where plot!walks and plot!runs come in.
For each of my stories, I always I throw together a playlist. If I don’t have a fully fleshed idea yet, I’ll sometimes just put some random songs on shuffle and see what happens. Then I pop in my headphones, put on some shoes, and head outside.
If I can, I run. There’s just something about pounding familiar pavement and getting your heartrate up while listening to an energetic song to slice through the toughest of plot tangles. Lately, I’ve been using the Zombies, Run! app along with my playlist to really get in the zone. Something about having zombies on your tail that really drives up the adrenaline.
If I can’t run, I walk. Even a short jaunt around the block usually gives me something to work with. A feeling, a mood, a line of dialogue. I never bring anything with me to write stuff down; if the idea makes it home with me, it can stay. Then I’ll feed it and water it and watch it grow, before taking it on subsequent walks/runs.
Movement is key, but the music is just as important. Even if I’m stuck inside due to inclement weather or a sports-related injury, I can still pop in some headphones and zone out over the dishes. All it takes is an errant lyric at the right moment to stir up a new character motivation, a new subplot, a new scene. Or, sometimes, a whole plot. I’m not saying Hide and Seek by Namie Amuro was pretty much the inspiration for the spy vs spy type plot of TPA, but, well.
*whispers* It was.