The muse is a fickle being: on creativity when inspiration isn't there
I've got a list of books to write at least 17 strong. They're all collected in a nice notion page with cute little sub-pages for each book idea, all paired with a fun emoji and filled with everyone from a one-sentence elevator pitch to detailed outlines and character cards.
I pull my ideas from any of the four corners of the earth: from dreams that wake m up, insisting on being told; from fantasies I spin while staring out a moving car window; even from conversations with friends.
One time, I got a book idea from a tweet about a trope, which I took and completely modified so you wouldn't be able to tell which tweet originated the idea.
Much like with my poems, I am often inspired by the smallest of things — the smell of rain on warm pavement or the way the sun looks slanting through the trees and glinting off the snow. A child crying on an airplane, a snowman built in my bathroom. You get the picture.
I have a theory...well, okay, there is a theory that did not originate with me, probably, that we go through creatively abundant periods followed by creatively fallow periods. I've been through fallow periods that last a few days, along with ones that last literal years. Probably not coincidentally, the multi-year dry period happened while I was on overnights, but there have been other times. In 2016, when I was so depressed I could hardly function, I stopped writing for two months.
My theory goes further and says that this is okay — nay, this is natural. Whether you're in a creatively dead period because of mental health, busyness in other areas of your life, or idk...a pandemic...that's valid. Even if your best friend is going through an epically creative period. You're still valid.
The reason I keep my Notion page isn't so I can pull it out and flourish it at anyone who passes by me. At least, it's not entirely for that reason. A girl's gotta brag, I'm just saying.
The main reason I keep my Notion page alive, knowing full well the chances that I'll write all the stories on there are slim to none, is because I want to take advantage of my inspiration while it lasts.
Muses are fickle things, and my muse has proven to be absolutely off-the-wall when it comes to when she shows up and when she takes an extended sabbatical. So when she's around, making me swoon over the droop of a petal on a rose or scream incoherently over the color orange, I take advantage.
I write down all my story ideas, big or small, and when the time comes to work on a new project, I take a look and figure out what has actual promise, what I can develop, and what I'm excited about.
So if you're in a phase where you worry you'll run out of ideas and never write again...hang tight. Those are super shitty periods, for sure, but in my experience they pass. Whether it takes a day, a year, or three years, they will pass. And when you're inspired, take note.
The thing about pursuing writing as a career is that you can't be beholden to inspiration. You've gotta wrangle yourself to write your stories even when it's the very last thing you want to do. But having an idea, an ember waiting in the wings? Well, that changes everything.