inspiration and cake // a guest post by cait

7:00 AM


Yes, that's right. THE Cait. The one and only, the dragon, the Paper-Fury-Cait. If you don't know who she is already, just give it a few days. You'll learn her name rather quickly once she's conquered your world and her face (or, the books in front of her face) are plastered on every surface you can possibly see. i'm just ahead of the curve, sucking up to her before she takes over. can't hurt. Obviously, show her some love. And also cake and your eternal allegiance. That can't hurt.


It could be argued that inspiration is the most important thing in a writer's life. It could also be argued that cake is the most important thing in a writer’s life because you gotta eat to live, kids. But I'm not actually here to talk about the benefits of cake! I'm here to talk strictly about writing! (Hold me to that.) And I'm enormously glad that Aimee asked me to guest post (she is The Writing Master after all) on the topic of inspiration. So today I'm going to list 5 questions about inspiration that you definitely didn't ask, but probably wanted to ask and if you don't, look at you! You're asking them now! Lovely! #MindControl

1. WHERE DO WRITERS GET INSPIRATION?
Obviously this is different for every writer because we are not a collective being. We are like hundreds of little apricots scattered across the seven seas and some of us are stranger than others. But since we're here to talk about me (#nice) here are some places I look for inspiration:

  • Movies and TV Shows // because they inspire me visually and since I have the visual imagination of a turnip, this is crucial.
  • Reading All The Books Of Ever // not to copy but to learn what I can do, how to shape scenes, how pacing works, how to keep audiences engaged.
  • Listening To Epic Music // I don't listen to music while I write, but when plotting? Yes please and thank you! There's nothing like a dramatic soundtrack to give you the idea to make your characters fall in love and then get stabbed, etc. etc.
  • Pinterest // Because there's nothing like thousands of beautiful pictures to spark everything from a scene to a complete novel.
  • Listening To Conversations // I have indeed stolen many a conversation my family has had. If my sibling does something embarrassing, I squirrel it away to add into a book. (Shh, they don't know this.)
  • Letting My Mind Wander // I think it's really important for writers to have daydreaming time. Seriously, just look out the window or lie on your face on the carpet. Let your mind drift. Conjure up all the things that inspire you and smoosh them into a story.
And don't just watch / read in your own genres. Read ravenously from everywhere. So when your inspiration is coming from a Pirates of the Caribbean music score + memoir you read + piece of art on pinterest + your sudden new obsession with parkour + wondering what would happen if the world had 3 suns = BOOM you have something vastly unique and different because of all your sources!

2. HOW DO I GET INSPIRATION WITHOUT ACCIDENTALLY COPYING SOMETHING?
When I say "this book inspired me" I usually mean "this detail within the book inspired me". A book might offhandedly mention children travelling to the moon -- but what if that was an entire book?! When gathering inspiration, get it from ALL THE PLACES. If you find yourself being too heavily inspired by one thing, then you're probably going to end up copying. This is why you have to have a voracious appetite when it comes to being an inspiration gatherer. See above.


3. WHAT IF YOUR INSPIRATION ISN'T THAT ORIGINAL?
I can be super inspired and passionate about my story of an amnesiac spy -- but at the end of the day, fiends, it's still going to be cliche. So then you start asking questions. You list all the reasons your idea is cliche. You turn those reasons on their head. What if the spy is faking amnesia to survive? What if the spy is a ghost? What if the spy just wants to be a lemon tart baker? What if it's set in space? What if the spy can read minds?

Never let your inspiration pause! Keep pushing it further and further until either (A) you get an amazing idea that sends you hollering to the computer to write down because it's brilliance or (B) your head explodes. Aim for the first. If the latter happens, well... I didn't write this post. I WASN'T HERE AND IT'S NOT MY FAULT.
this is the cait, isn't she fabulous?

4. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY INSPIRATION IS WORTH TURNING INTO A STORY?
Because we can be inspired by a potato, but that doesn't mean the potato will make a good enough story by itself. It needs, like, mayonnaise and then it'll become a potato salad and then you can write about it. So I suggest always writing down your smatterings of inspiration. Sticky notes. Documents. Lists in your notebook. Boards on Pinterest. And then you can trace lines between them and stitch them into a story.

My trusty guide on knowing whether the inspiration is good is just: how much does it excite me??? Is it still exciting after a week? Two weeks? FORTY TWO YEARS IN THE DESERT??? Then it's good.


(Note: I do not recommend spending spending 42 years in the desert. Nasty WiFi connection. Little to no cake. Chances of death by camel bites = high percentages.)

5. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO KEEP WRITING WHEN WRITING IS BEING A TURNIP TO YOU?


The unfortunate fact is: writing is not always agreeable. In fact most of us would agree it is decidedly disagreeable a lot of the time and we want to smack it in the face with 9 bricks and then go talk to ice cream about our problems.

So what inspires me to keep writing when this happens??? The very simple fact of I love dissolving into my writing. I love the idea of being published someday. I love the idea of making some poor unsuspecting reader end up sobbing into their teacup at 2am.

Write a list of reasons why you love to write. Glue it to your face. (Or, well, like the wall is an option too I guess?) And every time you think your ideas are dumb, your inspiration well has run dry, or you're completely stuck on how to even word -- remember why you write.

And don't forget: in order to put out art, you must devour art. Let other artists' inspire you! Let cake inspire you! Let the limitless possibilities of the fact that you can write whatever you want in all the universe inspire you! And if all else fails: pinterest, dude, just go to pinterest.

on a scale of very to absolutely, how accurate is the paper-furious cait here? how do you get yourself to write/find inspiration? SAY ALL THE THINGS. so i can make cait answer them instead of me. i'm kidding, but only slightly.




Cait is the ominous creature behind the blog Paper Fury, where she talks about books, dragons, cake, and her disturbing ability to write 50K in 2 days. She lives in Australia and is very small in stature because she didn’t eat her greens as a child. Find her on twitter where she says funny things and threatens to rule the world.

20 comments

  1. CAIT IS ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT A DOUBT ACCURATE! Writing is often a picky, spoiled turnip to me, and because of this inspiration comes very fleetingly or in incoherent phrases, which makes plotting a chore to do that sometimes I just dive in with zero plot / aka pantsing.

    Cait's answer in #4 is spot-on! I completely agree on the 'how much does the story excite you' part. I often ask this question to myself.

    - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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    1. Cait is always exceedingly accurate. *nodnod*

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  2. YES TO ALL OF THIS! I was somewhat inspired the other day, but obviously I can't write only when I'm inspired so basically YES TO THIS POINT (how paper furious it was)

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    1. Inspiration is the WORST.

      Also the best.

      Mostly just the worst.

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  3. Cait is 1000% foolproof, and we all know that. All her tips are bound to work and her advice should be framed and hung up on the wall.

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  4. Haha, I love this. And it's true. I got inspiration the other day from discussing how irritating I find a trope with another blogger and then I was like 'I could write that' I force myself to write by caring about the story. Also, I'm all for daydreaming. One of the best ways I daydream is when I go running. I also steal lines/situations from my real life. Like my siblings had this whole argument about who was more fabulous, and I realised that it would be hilarious if I wrote it in play format in the middle of a heist. I still haven't written that yet, but I want to!
    Shanti @ Virtually Read

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  5. 0.0 THE Cait posted on To The Barricade?! *applause*

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  6. Woah, THE Cait is AWESOME!! *hugs the Cait because I can* I think this was pretty much spot on. I often struggle with inspiration. But then again I got this teen criminal, four book series idea from a TV show I watch, so yeah, inspiration can really come from like, anything. (I also got this high school with psychopath teachers idea from a movie trailer, so...yeah.)

    I actually don't have Pinterest, but I often scroll my friend's board because I can. And YESSSSHHH! If a story idea is still exciting after FORTY-TWO YEARS IN THE BLOODY DESERT, it's DEFINITELY worth my time lol!

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  7. Cait is 100% correct, haha.
    Awesome post!

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    1. She is quite awesome, isn't she? I'm lucky I could lure her on.

      There was no bribery involved. Definitely not. There was no cake involved. At all.

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  8. I love the way this was written. lol. you're actually hilarious.

    But I agree about all the things. especially about getting inspiration. sometimes I'll just put on music and walk around my room and pretend to be my protag. lol. its a good ol time and to normal people, its super weird. but its the number one thing that helps me.

    Cait, you're great.

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    1. Oh my gosh I'm totally going to try that now!

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  9. Cait, you're everywhere! xD

    This is faaaaantastic, because I needed this right about now to remind myself that writing is HARD. I also probably need to remember that I can blend a bunch of different ideas together to get something interesting. I keep a notebook of title and plot ideas, but sometimes they all sound bland on their own. But mixing and matching is always a great way to go!

    (BTW, that poor unsuspecting reader sobbing into their teacup at 2 in the morning was me while reading The Dead Boy and the Paper Cut. *fake glares at you*)

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    1. I just love mixing stuff together to get something new, y'know? Mashing plot bunnies together is how I've gotten some of my most favorite of stories.

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  10. THANKS FOR HAVING ME, AIMEE, YOU WONDERFUL FANTASTICNESS YOU. <3 <3

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    1. THANKS FOR BEING HERE YOU FABULOUS QUEEN.

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