Title Card - Finding Inspiration In Old Works

Writer’s Corner: Finding Inspiration In Old Works

When you’re writing stories, it often feels tempting to just start anew every time you sit down. Of course, you shouldn’t fight that urge all the time, sometimes writing new material feels way more natural than continuing an old story, and you should definitely run with what feels natural in the moment. Natural writing always comes out far better than forced writing.

I want to touch on a feeling that I’m certain extends beyond just me. That feeling of not feeling motivated to continue an existing story and write something new, but having no idea what that new writing would consist of. I found myself sitting in that kind of hole not too long ago. Instead of doing what I usually do and let my brain dump onto the page, I decided I would go back and visit my portfolio of past works to see what things I had already written.

Now, the purpose of this is not to revisit old writing and cringe at how you’ve written it, but rather see the themes and ideas that were spilled on the page at the time. I certainly don’t hold everything I’ve written in my head, and so revisiting these stories from time to time helps to refresh and remind you of some of the ideas you thought were good enough to at least put down on the page.

Keep an open mind when shuffling through your old works. If you come across an old story that you get inspiration to rewrite, do it. However, you should also be willing to explore the idea that you are able to mix and match themes and thoughts from different stories to draw your inspiration. For example, in my latest writing exercise, I came across two stories I had written which had very similar themes but different overall plot and characters. I took on the mental exercise of seeing if these two stories could overlap in any way and found the ensuing story to be much more detailed than either of the two previous ones. It turned out to be a fascinating worldbuilding exercise, one I will likely repeat again in the future.

Taking entire worlds from your stories doesn’t have to be the norm either. There could be one detail you threw away before that sets off a chain reaction of thoughts that develop into a whole new story. Remember, the main reason you are reading your old works is not because you are wanting to rewrite them, just for prompts and ideas. Chances are, if you’re gathering ideas from plots and turns that you have already written, chances are they will capture your interest again.

Research rabbit holes are also a great way to inspire. Sometimes you will be reading one of your passages, only to find that there’s a hole in your story or logic that you hadn’t previously considered, and the research that ensues infuses new ideas and trains of thought. Inspiration can literally come from anywhere, and it should never be discounted.

What are some ways you find inspiration? Do you have a preferred way of getting into the writing mood?