Output requires intake, and literary output requires literary intake.
Wordsmithy, by Douglas Wilson, page 30.
I think all of us have experienced creative burnout at some point or another in our writing journey. Whether it’s simply running out of ideas or the inability to write at all, burnout is no fun.
When you face this monster, the best way to conquer it is by getting more inspiration. But finding inspiration isn’t just like sitting out in a thunderstorm and hoping to get hit by lightning.
It’s more like intentionally tying yourself to a lightning rod in the middle of a storm cell.
Though it’s a little less dangerous. 😉
Where does the inspiration to write stories come from? Other stories of course!
Like Douglas Wilson said above, you need to absorb storytelling before you can write.
There are a few ways to do this:
Reading is the best way to fill your creative well. Not only can you enjoy a good story, but you also can discover different styles of writing.
Just like a musician listens to music before attempting to compose his own, a writer needs to read.
Don’t just read in the genre you write! Explore fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary, re-tellings, even non-fiction! You heard me right, reading non-fiction can improve your fiction writing. 🤓
Listen to Audiobooks and/or Audio Dramas!
Nowadays, everyone is busy. And sometimes, we don’t have time to sit down with a big tome.
But you can listen to audiobooks or dramas while commuting to work, washing the dishes, or cleaning the house.
If you want to listen to a classic, you might want to check out Librovox. They have free recordings of many classic books.
I personally enjoy audio dramas a bit more than audiobooks. Dramas are a little like movies without the pictures. They have different actors for each character, sound effects, and music.
TV is full of stories, whether it’s a show or movie. Even the Food Network competitions my family likes to watch are stories.
This is a great way to listen to dialogue (noting what is natural and what is stilted) and to watch body language. You’ll start to notice how people act when they are stressed (nothing like the Chopped kitchen to raise your blood pressure!) or when they achieve something big (like winning the million dollar wedge on Wheel of Fortune).
While reading can be more of a solitary activity, you can most likely convince someone to watch TV with you. 😊
When you increase your story intake, your writing output will get better. And you’ll find new sources of inspiration.
No thunderstorm required.
Oliver stowed away and joined me at my latest band concert at an ice cream social.
(Photo credit: Mom)