December 30, 2019

Keeping an Inspiration Journal

This week’s #worldbuildingMonday post is all about how to use what inspires you to pave the road to your world in your mind.

Inspiration certainly isn’t an exact science – I hesitate to even call it an art. But inspiration is certainly critical; without it, your world does not get to evolve or flourish. For some, inspiration is similar to how a sculptor treats a beautiful block of marble: the world is already there, you’re just carving and manipulating the stone to where it was always meant to be. And for others, it’s a blank canvas, with each burst of inspiration like sections of an elegant tapestry which unfold and intertwine over time.

But naturally, what inspires a worldbuilder can be totally different for another: perhaps it’s images, names, music, sounds, movies, games, architecture, conversation…anything really. So regardless of whether you’re that “sculptor” or “painter” – or something totally different – what’s important is the degree to which you’re in-tune with the source of your inspiration.

To offer another analogy: inspiration is the fuel of the vehicle which takes you to your story world. And you just need to be good at finding the gas station.

To that end, the next few times you feel inspired – and aspects of your story world get brought to life in your mind – write down not just what those new and exciting developments are but how they came to exist. Were you listening to a specific song? Having a discussion with a friend? Watching a specific scene in a movie? Seeing a piece of art? Watching a sunrise? Keep a inspiration journal of sorts and over time, you’ll start to see patterns emerge and you’ll become more in tune with your creative process.

Worldbuilders who have a strong connection to the forces which inspire them can have a better degree of control over their flow which, in turn, helps productivity and overall satisfaction with the state of the story world. If it’s music, you’ll be able to build playlists around the type of music that gets you what you need. If it’s nature, you can saturate your computer with imagery and/or plan trips to be a part of the great outdoors. If it’s art, you can search online or visit museums…whatever it is, just being on the trail of even one of your inspiration sources can have a hugely positive impact on the worldbuilder’s creative process.

So, worldbuilders: keep that inspiration journal, you’ll be glad you did!