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Finding inspiration...

The Rich Writer: Finding inspiration...

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Finding inspiration...

Rewriting (yep, still doing that) requires a constant influx of creative inspiration. That's when the writer gets to discover the perfect sound to give the reader chills, the perfect smell to fill the reader with warm fuzzies, or the perfect phrase to make a character come to life.

Perfect. Arg. That word can be the bane of any writer...but we still want to get as close as we can, right?
I think the key to finding those perfect sounds, scents, and phrases is to fill up your mental toolbox with lots of choices. It's always easier to pick and choose from a given set of options (think multiple choice) than it is to start from scratch (think essay question). With all the rewriting I've been doing lately, I've had to refill my mental toolbox a lot. Here are some of my favorite places to do so:

  • For the perfect smell, I visit the Demeter fragrance library: If I find one particularly inspiring, I suppose I might buy it--but usually, it's enough to read through the list of names. (Did you know you could buy laundromat-scented cologne? Or baby powder?)
  • If I need to sample some scents, my local natural food store is a great resource. I can wander the aisles and smell fresh kumquats and star fruit; or I can skip straight to the essential oils aisle for a sensation explosion.
  • For the perfect voice, I visit the shopping mall and hang out on the plaza outside the movie theater. Kids, parents, and sweethearts of all ages meet and talk and laugh. Friday night's especially great for eavesdropping on the teen crowd....
  • Another voice pick--check out the pizza parlors or other eating establishments within walking distance of the high school.
  • The perfect sounds can be trickier. My choice here depends what I'm writing. Right now, I can hear goldfinches arguing over sunflower seeds; a chain saw; traffic noise like the surge of the ocean; warbling sparrows; a scolding squirrel. For something more exotic, I'd have to travel--or hit the Internet, where you can look up just about any sound bite imaginable. Ever heard the call of the New Zealand bellbird? (

There are more sources I could list, but there's a fine line between research and procrastination. I need to get back to my own rewriting! Meanwhile, the next time you need a little of your own rewriting inspiration, trying filling up your mental toolbox with a sensory excursion.

:) Cheryl

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