Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tip O'Day #460 - Break Out of Your Funk

Guest blogger John Grover on "Finding Inspiration and Keeping the Spark."

For about twenty-five years, I’ve been having a love affair with writing horror. I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pen but I really took it seriously around the age of eighteen and wrote my first serious horror story. After that I wrote a novel. The short story was picked up by a magazine that went out of business soon after and the novel still sits in my closet, unpublished. Did that stop me from writing? Not in the least!

I love writing. It’s part of who I am; it makes me infinitely happy and I’ve written horror since I was able to read the likes of Mary Shelly, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, Shirley Jackson and H.P. Lovecraft. I never have a lack of ideas or the ever-growing list of projects but sometimes I discover that what I truly lack is time and energy.

There never seems to be enough time to write everything I want and there are days when I’m just too tired to care, too tired to put in the time and think to myself where did that young guy go that wrote every single day no matter what?

He is still there. He just needs a little inspiration, something to keep the spark alive. There was a day not too long ago where I was about to embark on a new project, a new book series about the supernatural and I sat stared at a blank computer screen. Nothing would come. There was no desire, no energy, no spark. I knew right there that I was in a funk. I wanted to write. I loved the idea of the story and its characters but I just couldn’t.

So I turned to what I loved most about writing my favorite genres and getting lost in their worlds. I took a break and read horror books and horror stories, read my peers online, put in my favorite horror DVDs, browsed horror art online, and immersed myself again in the passion and emotion of my genre.

I was carried away by words, by sight, by sound, riveted by the emotions these things stirred, no longer reading or watching but becoming a part of it. This was what I wanted to give my readers, but not just that. This was what I wanted to give myself. I broke out of my funk and wrote that book and fell in love with my characters. I think it’s one of my better books. This is the kind of inspiration I try to surround myself with every day.

When I write and get involved in the world of my story, I get into the feeling that I am trying to inspire. I collect horror and fantasy art, scouring all around the net for the frightening, the macabre, the gothic, the wondrous and I keep it in a folder on my desk, like an artist does with swipes from magazines and books. I use them as screensavers and wallpaper and I take them out to get into the mood and to add a visual to the story I might be writing. It really helps me flesh out plots, characters and entire worlds.

Not only do I collect inspirational art but I listen to music in my genre, ambient sound, creepy movie themes, gothic bands and so on. I collect movies and TV shows and have them running in the background as I write. I put my favorite authors in stacks of books beside me on the table. All of these things inspire me every day and sometimes I feel like I never left my childhood and the little boy who told stories in books made of construction paper that were bound together by some staples.

So whenever you may feel like you just don’t want to write or that you’re burnt out or in a funk, take a break, recharge and do what you did when you were young, do what it was that drew you to writing in the first place. Reread that classic book you read in school, put on that music that gave you the best feeling when you finished writing that masterpiece. These things keep that spark alive and keep those creative juices flowing.

You never know when those things may inspire your current project or inspire you to give something different or unique to your readers. Ever thought of including a recommended play list in one of your books — a list of songs that would go perfect with your book that your reader could download? Or how about interior art to go with your fantasy book, concept art that you can keep on your desktop or share on your social media? Cover art that could be made into t-shirts, bookmarks, coffee mugs or some multimedia in your eBook — book trailers, video clues to a murder mystery or sound bites.

Whatever it is you write try to find a little inspiration every day and you’ll keep that creative spark alive and your writing fun.

John Glover is a horror, fantasy and sci-fi author from Massachusetts. He’s been published in various magazine and anthologies and has a few horror novels out on Amazon. His most recent horror novel, The Fetch, was released last month. For more information, check out www.shadowtales.com.

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