What do you do when the flames in your fireplace die out and you are planning to stay up for the night? Obviously, you have to add wood.
Same goes with your creativity. If you feel it’s burning out, you must add some fuel.
Now… What kind of fuel you use matters more than you think.
Do you know that it is possible to light fires in all colors of the rainbow thanks to chemistry? If you use boric acid, your fire will be green. If you use a non-toxic potassium compound, your fire will be purple. And if you burn plastic, it’s not going to burn well.
Why am I talking about it?
Because your fuel choices for writing should be dictated by the type of inspiration you are trying to obtain. If you want to feel inspired for fantasy – you must use fantasy as a fuel.
One of the reasons why people can’t finish their books is, they use the wrong fuel for inspiration.
They have purple fire in the fireplace, but instead of buying fuel for purple fire, they use the fuel for green fire. Obviously – the fire becomes green. Instead of being inspired for fantasy, they inspired themselves for non-fiction. This will very likely make them abandon the fantasy topic and start writing non-fiction.
If you fuel with recipe books, you can’t write a crime! Unless your master chef chooses to stab his victim with a kebab skewer. Which I guess wasn’t your main idea.
Now let’s talk about plastic as a fuel for our inspiration.
Plastic is a topic that sounds nice and maybe even appeals to us, but when we try to write it, just doesn’t work.
A pacifist reads a gripping murder mystery, which inspires them to write one, too. They plan the story and start researching poisons and weapons. However, violence grosses them out so much, that they actually can’t turn their heroes into murderers.
This is my case. Kazutaka Kodaka, Gōshō Aoyama, Joe Alex and Agatha Christie all make me want to write a murder mystery full of plot twists. But… this inspiration is plastic, cause I can’t write crime novels, and besides, I’m more for writing that promotes peace.
I think I will write a crime novel one day – I have plot and character ideas in my head that just won’t let me go. But right now, reading or watching anything with detectives is only fueling my creativity with plastic. It’s not gonna “burn” into writing, cause there are too many things that block me – for example, lack of skills required by the genre.
Now, let’s discuss creative fire.
Yes! There is such a thing as creative fire! It’s the opposite of the creative burnout.
Creative fire happens when you have added so much fuel to your creativity furnace that you are itching to start writing, and once you start writing, you will be writing until physical tiredness. The creative fire will keep on burning, allowing you to write massive amounts of high quality text in short periods of time.
Making creative fire is easy. You just need to refuel a lot with the right type of fuel and prevent yourself from writing for some time. After a while, you will be faster than a novel writing machine – I promise!
I will tell you now, how I learned the lesson about refueling creativity properly.
When I was 11, I was a fan of Code Lyoko. It’s an old French cartoon about kids who were fighting a computer virus in digital world. I used to read a very popular fanfiction about it. This fanfiction had over 150 episodes, or maybe even more. The author wrote very often, almost every day, or every three days at most. I wondered, how she author managed to stay inspired for such a long time, and then I noticed that newest episodes were showing up each day in the afternoon, after Code Lyoko was aired on our local TV. I developed a theory, that the author was able to keep writing her fanfiction for so long, cause she was constantly inspired with the right kind of fuel.
Later, I observed other fanfiction writers. I’ve noticed that it was very easy for people to write about a certain topic if:
- They were genuinely interested in it;
- They found other people genuinely interested in it;
- Those other people also wrote fanfictions about it;
Problems started when the topic became stale to most people who were interested into it.
I will give you another example:
D.N.Angel was an anime about phantom thieves with wings that gathered quite a lot of fans. However, since there wasn’t a second series of it, many fans abandoned it and turned to other things that inspired them.
As long as you can find something that will replace your original source of inspiration, that had already run out, you don’t need to worry.
My fanfiction about D.N.Angel is still somewhere in my writing folder, unfinished. I remember I really loved this story and I let it go with a heavy heart. If I could turn back in time to talk to my older self as a more experienced writer, I would just stay: “read books about angels, girl, and the inspiration will be back in an instant.”
And this is the thing that I want you to remember from this post.
Learn to use different sources to refuel your writing inspiration; use sources that are connected to what you want to write, and when a source stops inspiring you, find another one. And it will be fine.
I hope this helps.