Weekly Roundup: Inspiration

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As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009.  This week we’re introducing a new roundup post that explores the archives.  Each Monday we’ll gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.  This week’s theme: inspiration.

Jamie Quatro explored the question of how ideas come to writers in her series of First Draft interviews with fiction writers, poets, playwrights, and nonfiction writers.  The answers from the writers she spoke with varied widely.  Some highlights:

  • Timothy Liu explains “I can prepare myself for a poem to come to me, just like a memorable dream, but I can’t force it to happen.”
  • Lia Purpura tells Quatro about stopping in the middle of teaching a class to scribble down a poem as it came to her.
  • Young Jean Lee asks herself “What’s the last play in the world I would ever want to write?”  Then she writes that play.

If reading writers’ ruminations on their process doesn’t inspire you, try Rachel Kadish’s suggestion: panic and musical improvisation.

Speaking of music, James Scott writes about how he uses music to inspire and remember the emotions of a piece in his post “Non-Writing Things That Nevertheless Help Me Write: Music.”

If you need any suggestions for your own writing playlist, David S. MacLean has kindly provided his favorites in his post “Writing Soundtrack: A Step-by-Step Playlist.”

Sometimes the greatest obstacle to our writing is the world’s best procrastination tool: the internet.  Discover why reading on the internet may be eroding our focus in Carol Keeley’s post “The Conceit of Wisdom.”

Follow up with Jamie Quatro’s tips on how to avoid the lure of internet addiction in her post “How Do You Get Past the Sirens?”

Where do your ideas come from?  What techniques do you use to open yourself up to these ideas?  Tell us your thoughts on inspiration in the comments below.

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