Inspiration is a funny thing. Some people claim to have muses, others don't. Some people "believe" in writer's (or artist's, or whatever) block, other people don't.
In trying to write WDKY26 over the past almost-year (11/7/07, according to the publication date on FFnet), I've tried a number of things to get my tail on the road and writing again. Certain things have worked, other things haven't. I'm sure it's different for everyone, whether they're writing fic, painting portraits, shooting photos, or something else. What works once may not work again, and what doesn't work the first time might work the 367th time, but none of the times in between.
I've actually been managing to write more of WDKY26 in the past few days, but I'm far from satisfied with it. I definitely want some betas to look it over and help me "trim the fat," so to speak. But fat (excess, weird writing) is better than nothing, or better than simple notes from my planner file. At least there's prose, even if it's pointless, non-descriptive prose! A step in the right direction, I think. And what's gotten me here? I wonder if I could make a ranking chart of what's worked well, what's worked only a little bit, and what hasn't worked at all.
I've tried it all:
* Listening to music - works some of the time. It depends on the music. See, I've got a playlist of music for WDKY. A good chunk of it is made up of songs that have directly appeared in the fic, e.g. "Why Can't I?" by Liz Phair, "All The Things She Said" by t.A.T.u, and so on. Those are all chapters in the past, and any music I have for other chapters tends to be UPCOMING chapters-- not the one I'm working on. It's a pain in the neck to be stuck working on one particular scene, but my choice of background music has me thinking of scenes in the not-too-distant-but-still-not-part-of-
this-chapter's-future. Every now and again, if I pick a particular artist or just listen to my whole library on shuffle, I'll get lucky and come up with a scene or prose for my current scene that fits with the music. It doesn't always have to be something lyrical, which is why I might try listening to instrumental stuff or other BGMs, like, oh Yu-Gi-Oh!
? I mean geez, what better to listen to, really.... But like I said, it only works some of the time.
* Working on some other fic project - Rarely works. If I'm working on another YGO fic, I'll see my own author's notes about how WDKY is my major project, how I want to finish that first, etc. I'll see all the fics I've started when WDKY got stuck, and how ALL OF THEM ARE STILL STUCK. It's the same even if it's a brand-new idea that's never made it to prose form, a challenge (see guardian_kysra
's super-belated birthday fic which I can't seem to finagle ANY ideas for!!! ARGH!!), or something else. The guilt will creep up on me and then attack! To be honest, I haven't tried to do much in other fandoms, mainly because my mind just sort of stares at the idea(s) and goes "No comprende
." I've been in the Yu-Gi-Oh! fandom since 2003 and have found it very hard to get out of it completely. I don't think I WANT to get out of it completely until at least WDKY is done, let alone the other 2 stories in the saga which I have planners for, but nothing more.
However, it's possible that working on future chapters of the same story/saga might help. Sure, it doesn't get "what I need to get done" done, but it's something. It might help the muse (or whatever) just to get the prose out, even if I end up scrapping it all later (like I did when I was working on Prophecy Girl and TJOY, two other fics that came along the same time as WDKY). I may have mentioned in the past, I already wrote the final scene for WDKY in Ch. 36 AGES ago. Mainly because THAT ONE SCENE was stuck in my head and wouldn't get out until it's written. Lately, it hasn't been one scene, but more like "acts," or snippets of a single scene. Sometimes it's only a sentence to start off, and I have to try and go from there. I don't like writing out of order, because I feel I end up losing my focus, but maybe if I look at it like "organizing my mind," and sorting things away to where they're supposed to be, it can bring the ideas I truly want forward, so I can get working on them.
* Working on some other project - Kinda-sorta works. I recently switched a lot to working on my shrine for RPGClassics, on Star Ocean 3: Till The End of Time. I got a great high out of getting so much done for the thing, but then when I stopped (because it is tedious, is a different kind of work than web design, graphic design, and fic writing), I'd be like "Yeah, but it's still not finished, it's another huge project I've started, and I'm STILL no closer to getting any ideas for WDKY26!" So the feeling of accomplishment dwindled pretty quickly. Plus, actually playing the game might only serve to distract me temporarily, because I'd start getting ideas for that fandom, for more things to do for the shrine, etc. etc. And I'd get frustrated because I couldn't accomplish certain things in THAT game, either (e.g. getting all 100% on Sphere 211's maps, because I'm only 4% away but I can't find where else on the first 5 levels that I could have missed ARGH!!!)
* Looking at related fic ideas/planners, reading previously posted-chapters of the same fic - This seems to have worked the best. I would see something that reminded me of a fic or fic idea, and I'd want to see what I'd written for it. So I'd bring up the file, read the fic or the planner or whatever, and I'd start to think "Hey, this kind of writing style I had back then..." or something like that, and I could switch easily into WDKY26 and start working on it. I might not be satisfied with it, but it's something. But what helped best of all was reading previous chapters. For example, I needed Seto to recall something that had happened in the previous chapter. In order to do that, I
needed to read the previous chapter and find an appropriate line. And THAT really helped, because I knew exactly where I was in the continuity of the story, everything that had brought the characters to the point(s) they were at, and what sort of "style" I'd been writing with in the past chapter. I might just re-read the whole fic to see where that gets me.
* Reading other fics in the same vein (e.g fandom, pairing, genre) - Works well, but not spectacularly. I re-read mmagnet_ff
's "The Night Before," because apparently I missed an update to it late in August, and with a fic involving so many flashbacks, I didn't want to forget "when" I was in the story, so I re-read it from the start. It's still deliciously tantalizing, and, like any good fic, had me hypothesizing about what might happen next. Sure, my idea is crazy and bizarre, but it was fun. Dissecting my idea (whether in the context of the fic or not) was fun, and got me brainstorming about WDKY a bit. This was also true of rose_of_pollux
's "Folgen Sie Ihrem Traum," one of the few mystery-genre Seto x Anzu fics in the fandom. I'm definitely coming up with hypotheses for that fic too, but because it's so different a genre and the characterization works differently than my own in WDKY, it doesn't really help me with WDKY so much to read it. But at least it keeps me "in the fandom, in the pairing," seeing how different authors interpret the same characters. It helps to be able to step back from a fic or a chapter after you've read it to "dissect it," so to speak, the way you might a piece of literature for class. I can ask myself "Why did the author choose to phrase it that way?" or "What impact has the chosen perspective and tense choice had on the story flow?" Thinking about a fic critically can help me analyze my own writing in that same manner. I tend to write as the ideas flow-- not write for my audience, not write so that people will "analyze" WDKY in a particular manner, but still-- I have a point, I have a purpose, I have a story to tell. So I tell it, as best I can, and if I re-read it (or other stories), and it leads me to think "Nah, it can be better," at least I have an idea of where to go next.
* Read other books, manga, etc. - Hardly works at all, but it's fun! I read all kinds of novels, from mystery and suspense-thriller to Victorian England romance novels straight from my Baba's "trashy" collection. *grin* Sometimes you can read a story and think "Oh, this would be perfect in a fic verse, starring Character A and Character B!" But I've learned to stop doing that, because it's rarely original. The temptation is there to more or less inject two characters from one fandom into another fandom-- you lose sight of characterization, which is the only thing that makes those characters who they are, recognizable, interesting, and fun! What's the point of putting Seto Kaiba into Anakin Skywalker's shoes and Anzu Mazaki's into Padme Amidala's when everyone KNOWS Anakin and Padme's story, and there's nothing particularly interesting about it that applies to or changes Seto and Anzu? So I wouldn't do it with the intent of getting inspired to work on WDKY or any other already-started fic. But it's a nice break from a fic that seems to bash the insides of my brain into jelly.
What do you do to try and "inspire" yourself? If you've ever been "blocked," how did you get out of it?