One of the things that most encourages our team at Najla Qamber Designs is hearing from our fellow creatives. Inspiration is something many creatives are in constant search for. Be it from nature, literature and other forms of media, we seek out what spurs us to in turn create. Which is why we recently asked bestselling author Seven Jane, to share what most inspires her as a storyteller.
I think finding inspiration is all about identifying the things you are most passionate about, letting your imagination grab hold of those ideas, and then getting out of your own way.
Of course, that’s certainly easier said than done.
Sometimes I think that finding inspiration—and, more importantly, keeping hold of it—is one of the hardest parts to crafting any good story. Bruised purple prose can be healed. Suffocating plots gasping for fresh air can be revived. Twisted storylines, untangled. If you don’t believe in magic, you might want to learn more about editing. But inspiration is different. And even more challenging is that it’s two-fold—one not only has to find inspiration, but to be inspired. Being tickled by the urge to write is one thing, but turning that feeling into a steady stream of words and sentences is wholly different. Inspiration gets you started, but being inspired is what keeps you going…and it’s what connects readers to your story, too. Readers also want to be inspired, and part of your responsibility of a writer is to deliver a work that inspires them. After all, maybe your story is their inspiration!
Inspiration can come from any number of places, many unexpected and some downright surprising—music, scenery, photos, experiences, trauma, wishes, dreams. And just as many sources of inspiration as there are, there are likewise innumerable articles that aim to help stumped writers wriggle out of the icy grasp of cursed writer’s block and go out and hunt down inspiration, too. Regardless of where it is, I believe authors find inspiration in different ways and I feel like inspiration, as a concept, is more multi-faceted than we give it credit for.
In my mind, inspiration exists on a continuum of “oh, that’s a neat idea” to the more inspired “I am this idea now”.
And so, off we go to lure in that inspiration. Personally, long car rides do me wonders.
There’s nothing quite like whiling away miles of the open road by letting your thoughts roam freely in the dark, rarely visited places of your mind to tease out new ideas or flush around nascent ones until they become fully-formed little beasties. I have dozens of little snippets of recordings on my phone, all of me blathering some new idea I just thought of somewhere between Mile 0 and Mile 500. If I’m riding shotgun, sometimes there are scribblings, too. If I have passengers, they become a spontaneous focus group.
But that’s finding inspiration. To write, I need to be inspired, and that takes more than a road trip. The trick is not only to know where to find your inspiration but to know how to catch it. All that time spent hunting down inspiration takes you away from writing, but finding a stream of inspiration, hanging out and getting to know it, lets it become a part of you, and not something you glommed onto.
Inspiration, then, is a bit like taming a feral cat.
Know where it’s going to be, snare it, and then spend lots of time coaxing it with treats and talking sweetly to it until it becomes your best friend (my cat is going to hate me when he hears this).
Dreams are one of the ways I can hold onto that fleeting tease of inspiration—and I’m lucky since I’m a pretty avid dreamer.
My habit after a particularly good dream is to first write it down the moment I wake up before it slips away, but then to go back and revisit it every evening when I lay down to fall asleep. For me, it works. More important, it helps me get out of my own head and stops me from trying to force the story. This method was the inspiration for The Isle of Gold (Black Spot Books, 10.2018). It’s no big secret that I’m obsessed with pirates (I’m pretty sure I am at least half-pirate, actually), but I first met the characters that would become Winters, Merrin, and Tom Birch in a dream on a particularly rough night while out at sea somewhere in the Caribbean. In that dream, a woman was stranded on a rock in the middle of the ocean, and the tide was out. Her would-be rescuer—a man with wild, flaming red hair—called to her from a nearby ship. If she ventured into the water, it would rise up and swallow her. If he tried to sail to her, it would swallow him. Alone neither of them could survive the water. Together, somehow, they could—a truth neither of them was too terribly fond of. I was though, and this dream began the story about love and loss and identity and fated destinies at the mercy of the sea that began in the first of the Daughters Jones Trilogy and will continue (the sequel is coming in 2020!).
Not just a vehicle of inspiration, dreams were also the subject of my recent addition to the Havenwood Falls Universe in Of Salt and Stars (Amazon Bestseller in LGBT Fantasy). In this story, Maris dreams of a woman beckoning to her beneath the water, and that dream takes anchor within her, pulling her into her destiny as she looks for the woman in the water. Much like dreams sustain me creatively, they sustained the bond between Maris and Noelanie in a very literal way, too.
And so, I think the lesson in all this is to be open to finding inspiration where it exists for you, even—and especially—if it’s in your wildest dreams!
About the Author
Seven Jane is a bestselling author of dark fantasy and speculative fiction. Her debut novel, The Isle of Gold, was published by Black Spot Books in October 2018. She is a member of the Havenwood Falls collective. Currently, Seven is collaborating as the lead author on a franchise project with a top veteran Hollywood director and an award-winning screenwriter.
She is represented by Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management and supported by Smith Publicity. A nomad at heart, Seven has spent time living everywhere from the South to the Pacific Northwest and New England. She is a recent transplant to Juneau, Alaska.
Learn more about Seven's adventures in writing at http://www.sevenjane.com
F, T, I @sevenjanewrites