Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June IWSG: Writerly Inspiration


Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html




On the Old Chicago Road about thirty minutes from downtown Chicago you will find an abundance of empty fields filled with windmills and a strong sensation you just crossed over into the fifth dimension. I gain inspiration for my writing through photographs. I can return to the same photo and linger for hours.

I get lost scouring through an endless assortment of Chicago IGers on Instagram. Since I'm several hours away, I must live vicariously, peeking into the Rookery, the Soho House, or catching a glimpse of Calder's Red Flamingo on the sidewalk just outside the Federal Building. Every fall I return to the city. Until then I stalk my favorite Instagram account, Skydeck. With its sweeping views, the Sear's Tower remains the single most photographed landmark in Chicago.


Tornado Alley runs through Illinois (and Missouri, oh joy). Typical flat farm fields stretch forever across this state where each spring and summer clouds swirl with potentially dangerous weather. And who doesn't love writing a good storm scene?


Another source of inspiration for my writing comes from reading books in my genre (and out of my genre). I can't tell you enough how much this inspires me--more than anything else. I'm always on the prowl for unputdownable books.

Did I mention my two teenage boys? Of course, you guys already know how much I shamelessly use them. It doesn't get any better than real live kids in your house eating all of your food, fighting with their siblings, and pulling a million pranks. I'm okay. Deep breath. Summer's just starting. I can do this. OK, who put the traffic cone on top of the house??

Where does your inspiration come from? Need to find some? What have you read lately to inspire your inner Hemingway or Jeff Kinney?

47 comments:

  1. Photography is one of my passions. Pictures of places I'm writing about, even images that remind me of my characters inspire me. And reading books, any books, is a huge boost for me creatively too. Music is another huge source of inspiration for me.

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  2. Maybe you can't physically go there, but through the Internet, we can travel anywhere in the world.
    Music and movies are my biggest inspirations.

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    1. Yes, the internet is our gateway to the world!

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  3. Photography is one of my passions. Pictures of places I'm writing about, even images that remind me of my characters inspire me. And reading books, any books, is a huge boost for me creatively too. Music is another huge source of inspiration for me.

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    1. I love photography. Books too. And Music:)

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  4. I get a lot of inspiration reading strange and bizarre stories on the internet -- weird scientific discoveries, ancient cities uncovered, historical mysteries unsolved ...

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    1. Ooh! Me too! I forgot about that avenue of inspiration:)

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  5. Most of my inspiration comes from music. All of my writing - books, stories, games, even blog posts sometimes - have a soundtrack. It played in my head when I wrote it, it would probably increase the experience of the reader if they listened to it as well.

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    1. I have songs for different chapters. Music just works! I just have to remember to take my earbuds out of my ears when the kids are around. Or not. :-)

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  6. I totally dig images too. Part of my inspiration comes from epic music, because I'm wired that way.

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  7. This is the second time in like a week that I've heard the advice of "read your genre". You'd think it would be a no brainer, but for some reason, it wasn't for me. I pride myself on reading all sorts of YA (what I write) of all sorts of genres. However, I probably read fantasy the least, which is odd, because that's one of the genres that I write.

    I get inspiration by (what else?!) PINTEREST. Also, by just observing people--whether it's people I am not particularly fond of, my friends, or my family...just by life in general, I suppose.

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    1. You have no idea how much I "people watch" whether complete strangers or my kids or my friends. NO ONE IS SAFE!! :-) I'm on a fantasy reading binge write now.

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  8. I totally get the boys fighting thing! :)

    Yes, I love to find pictures of places to help inspire me when I'm writing. Especially if it's a place I've never been or even if it's a place I have been but need to see a picture to help me remember all those little details. Music is probably the biggest inspiration for me, as well as reading other books.

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    1. My house is NOT quiet these LONG days of summer. The details help us become better writers!

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  9. Hi, Jennifer,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and for your kind comment.

    Yes, Chicago is a beautiful city. As I sit viewing the lake, Lincoln Park, and the stunning downtown skyline from the ceiling to floor windows of my 17th floor apt, I can't help notice the haze blending the vista. It almost looks like a cardboard cut out: flat and two dimensional. Ah, but on a clear day..... Breathtaking.

    I've passed by those windmills many times on my trips to Florida. Amazing to see....

    For me inspiration comes in many forms from the tweet of birds to the cracking ice on Lake Michigan in winter. One just has to keep their eyes and their hearts open....

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    1. Last time I was in Chicago, we went out on a yacht in Lake Michigan at night after a storm. The lightning stealing across the skyline is one of my fondest memories. I envy your view! But Florida is so sunny and warm and sunny and warm.

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  10. Hi Jennifer, I have heard that Chicago is a beautiful city. I would love to visit it in future.

    From me inspiration comes from many sources and in many forms :)

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna's Scriptorium

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    1. It is definitely worth a visit or two or three.

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  11. It's great you find inspiration in photos. An interesting building can spark off all sorts of ideas. And I'm sure your boys are flattered to be used for material!

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    1. My second son is notorious for doing something silly, crazy, dangerous, and then asks, "You gonna put that in your novel?"

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  12. Creepy pictures! They are inspiring! I find inspiration a lot from TV and reading. I'll come across something that makes me think, "what if..."

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    1. I would LOVE to walk through the eerie windmill fields and just experience the sheer terror of their size.

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  13. Inspiration pops up everywhere for me, but usually from my husband. He likes to shout out random crazy ideas. :)

    Great pictures!

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    1. It really does. How awesome that your hubs helps with your writing inspiration.

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  14. Sometimes inspiration strikes when I least expect it. We have a lot of windmills around our area, though probably not as many as that!

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    1. They seem to be popping up everywhere!

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  15. I'm wrapping up the Percy Jackson series. That was a most creative five books but the author had off of Greek and roman mythology at his disposal.

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    1. LOVE Rick Riordan. I'm on book 4 or 5 or 6. I kind of lost track. I adore his writing style.

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  16. One word can set me off and away I go

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    1. I'm that way with people. One look at the perfect someone and I'm scrambling for a pen and paper to scribble notes on a new character.

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  17. Oh, I love photography too. Beautiful photos are so inspiring.

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  18. I took pics of all the windmills in Central IL, and I was pretty amazed at how many there are. I've always known they were there, but I think off the main interstate, I had only seen a fraction of the "army of windmills" off the highway.

    I'm a visual person, so I'm inspired by paintings, photographs, and sculptures too.

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    1. Interstate 39 should be renamed "the windmill zombie apocalypse highway." THEY'RE ALIVE AND THEY'RE EVERYWHERE.

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  19. Sounds like you will never lack for inspiration to write! I use music, a lot. I hear something and it sparks a scene. I also use things that I hear, people talking, or things that happen around me. I think though, that music would be the one thing that inspires me the most...

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  20. Those are awesome pictures. Images usually don't inspire me to write, but I won't complain looking. =)

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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  21. My inspiration comes from the news, observations from real life and asking myself what ifs. Basically from everywhere. Oh, and pictures. I love pictures too.

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  22. Is that what one does with an Instagram account? See, I had no idea. I barely use mine. (I just stalk my niece who also rarely posts anything.)

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  23. We have one of those wind-farm things here in Egypt -- they are rather alien looking. My school (in Indiana) took a field trip to Chicago. I loved it, especially the Sears Tower! It's great you have so many places to inspire you and even you family helps on the inspiration and teen voice front!

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  24. Hi there, Jennifer! Books--that's my source of inspiration. They make me travel elsewhere to wonderful worlds and let me meet characters I wouldn't have met elsewhere.

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  25. Just letting my mind wander a while can help. It usually brings back a few things. I also tend to think about situations similar to things I just read or watched - for example, if a story takes place in a prison, that's where my mind decides to go for a while.

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  26. News articles, eavesdropping, art galleries, walking along a beach... So many places for inspiration. My kids, however, are too far out to be believable. Today, I had to tell my youngest not to use scissors to close the bathroom door. Honestly. Just... don't ask... :-/

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  27. We're in Tennessee, so we occasionally get tornadoes, but nothing like what they deal with in Kansas and Missouri. I can't imagine... I'd have to have a tornado safe room if I lived in one of those states!

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  28. Well I just survived a week with my in-laws, so..That's something inspiring! haha :)
    Really though, the Rocky Mountains are my favorite place to go when my brain needs to sort through anything. Tomorrow we'll go for a long hike and it will be lovely!

    Visiting folks who liked my A-Z theme to let you know my pick your plot book, Armageddon, is on sale for $0.99 through Monday :)
    Hope you are doing well!
    ~AJ

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  29. We don't have windmills where I am. I've always wanted to see them. I get inspired by water views (plenty where I am) and it does help to work with teenagers.

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  30. I grew up in IL and lived in IN, I'm familiar with the tornadoes. One came through Lafayette when we lived there. My daughter had her window open and the wind was so strong we couldn't get the door of her room open to get to her. Luckily, we didn't get hit.
    Great author picture:)

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