Thursday, June 14, 2012

Close The Door On "Unspiration"!

"Goodness, this unspiration is killing my writing buzz!"

Writing is fun! But every once in a while writers (most, not me) will go through bouts of what I like to call: "Unspiration"! What is unspiration? It's like the opposite of "Inspiration" you dummy! Like uninspired, but without the "in"! Stop using so many letters!

But anyway, let's talk about unspiration, since you brought it up.

Unspiration is when you tell the same story that has been told before. Your story could be about infidelity, familial relationships, or a classic coming-of-age tale. When you, not me, but *YOU* do nothing to make it new and unique from thousands of other stories, you have succumbed to unspiration!

Unspiration is the death of new. Unspiration is recycling. Unspiration is [insert something else here, I can't think of another example, I'm not unspired or anything I'm just like tired].

Going Green is bad when it comes to Writing! 

I've read a million articles on inspiration, unspiration's prettier sister. And that's great. But we also, I mean *YOU* also need to be better at spotting when you are unspired.

Because unspiration is insidious. You think that you're writing some great stuff because you're writing - you're actually writing! That's why unspiration can sneak onto the page!

"So the Zombies chase these survivors into a mall. Wait...am I unspired right now?"

First off, don't stop writing when this is happening. Inspiration and Unspiration sometimes feel like the same thing and you'll never get anything done if you keep thinking about which is which!

When you're done writing, take a break! Sleep a little! When you come back it will be easier to see whether your work is inspired or...you know.

Ask yourself: "Have I seen/read this type of story before?" Ask yourself: "Are these the most interesting characters?" Or: "Is this the best word I can use here?"

And then if you find that your work is, in fact, unspired, you can go about making it the opposite: inunspired or whatever!

Think: What if I changed the protagonist? How can I play with reader expectation? Can I say something new with this story?

And if you can't do those things, what the hell are you writing this story for?

I'm not saying everything you write should be entirely new. Someone important once said that there are like ten basic stories in the world (I personally don't believe this). I'm saying that everything YOU write should strive for something new and surprising, something that you haven't imitated from your favorite books or movies.

Okay. I confess.

Unspiration happens to me too (no - I'm serious!).

I wrote a spec script of an episode of "The Office" a while ago. And I was damn proud of it. I thought it was hilarious. I even sent it out to contests. It wasn't until I rewatched some episodes that i found that I had lifted basic plot points and ENTIRE LINES from other episodes without realizing it. I had been unspired and I didn't even know it (usually this is the case)! And it's because I let my arrogance cloud my vision. Getting my writing done was more important than feeling original. I'm seeing that tendency more while working on my novel and I'm trying to find ways to stop unspiration from taking control.

It's hard but I'll get there. And so will you.

Now, friends, let's write something new!