Tips & Tricks: Writer Fodder and Inspiration

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tips & Tricks is an original meme by me where I provide (hopefully helpful) tips about writing fiction. Remember not all my advice will help all writers, so make sure to mold my tips and tricks to fit your personality, pace, and writing style.

Today, we are going to be talking about writer fodder and the ever elusive inspirational muse. What is writer fodder you ask? Well, anything that you can gain a spark of creativity. You know those moments where you hear a line, or you see a scene in a movie, and it makes you crazy with wanting to put pen to paper? That's what I call writer fodder. Anything that seems interesting that might spark a novel, a short story, or a character. 

For John Green, he said that hearing about paper towns, which was the actual way map-makers used to copyright their material was to put "paper towns" or fake towns on a map, to keep others from copying their work. John Green categorizes that as a snippet of writer fodder, and as you can see, he has actually written an entire book that uses the idea of these paper towns.

Life is full of little snippets of interesting facts. History is riddled with them! Even George R.R. Martin got inspiration for the infamous Red Wedding from actual historical events. Life is full of little bits of fodder that will help writers with scenes, characters, themes, etc.

The next question is how in the world can you store all these awesome little bits of amazingness so that you actually remember to put them in your books? 

Luckily, there are a TON of ways!

Your generic choice is to use your Notes app on your phone. That's easy to use and very easily accessible, especially if you have your laptop and phone sync up automatically. Evernote, is another way to always have access to your written notes on the go and on your computer.

If you're looking for something that you won't get work for school or for you job mixed up with, there is an app called Werdsmith (it's red with a cool mustache). It's meant specifically for writers, and comes in a lot of handy, if you don't want to mix business with pleasure.

Personally, I use a mixture of my Notes app on my phone and a journal. I like keeping a Moleskine journal on me at all times, because you never know when inspiration strikes! I also make it a bit fun and decorate the covers to match my style or whatever at the time (I also sell them on my Etsy, so you can check those out if you don't know exactly what I'm talking about). 

Now for those of you who like journalling or keeping a physical copy of your thoughts around you, this is my theory on carrying around a journal:

I took an Advanced Composition class in undergrad, and we read a book called Writing Without Teachers by Peter Elbow. The book was okay, but there was one thing I took out of it and still live by to this day: the Daybook.

I think Peter Elbow had a bit of an issue of being feminized, because his Daybook was just a more masculine way of calling it a journal or a diary. 

Honestly, call it whatever you want; journal, diary, notebook, daybook, secret-pages-of-a-future-dictator, whatever makes you happy, but know that your journal is a free space. No one is going to read it, your ideas will stay in those pages. 
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
-William Wordsworth
I personally, include all kinds of things in my journal. I include chapter brainstorms (I do my best brainstorms by pen, but my best writing by computer, ironically enough), collections of words I want to use more in common vernacular, I write down plots and character ideas, to-do lists, calendars, lines from my favorite movies, poems, drawings, quotes, and yes, even my grocery list for the week. I keep EVERYTHING in my journal. I think including everything makes it more of a free space. 

Your journal doesn't have to be anything fancy. But it does need to be something that you're not afraid of getting dirty and can fit easily in your purse, satchel, or backpack. Carry it wherever you go and pull it out consistently.

Sooner or later, your consistency in writing in your journal will produce a love for it, and then when you're separated from it because you forget it in your car or at your apartment, you're going to cry tears of sorrow because you're so attached. 

I took that Advanced Composition class five years ago, and I have filled 8 journals since then (2 of those were big composition notebooks and the other 6 XL Moleskines).

You should try it out and see what works best for you.

Lesson 2: Inspiration comes from the little things, and when the Muse strikes, make sure you're ready for it!


  1. oh oh this is is so wonderful and true and YES JOURNALS! I have a huge journal collection and have I ever written in them? NO. I have a problem. I really really love beautiful things and I always say "I'll save this journal until I can put something useful in it"...when really I should just fill a journal up with LIFE, whether it's messy or not. x) Now that I like to doodle/zentangle, I'm using my journals for that too. x) I think I collect my inspiration mostly on sticky-notes on my actual physical wall or on my computer screen. OR yes! Notes app on the ipod/phone! lifesaver. x) I always get ideas when I turn off my computer for the night. -_-

    1. Here's an idea: put sticky notes in your journal -I do it all the time, because I live on stickies! I put them everywhere and I write and it's super messy, but in the end I am so thankful that I keep a journal. It helps so much, because I know where to look if I need to find something that I wrote down forever ago. :)

  2. I am like you! I do my best brainstorming on paper, and my best writing on the computer. I can't swap them around. I tried to brainstorm on the computer one time, and it DID NOT WORK. And I stopped writing in books a long time ago.

    I do write my ideas down in a little notebook that sits next to my laptop. I don't take it with me anywhere because it has complete outlines for my books in it, and I would be terrified and mortified if I ever lost it. But I always write things down in it if I have an idea when I'm away from it.

    I love writer fodder. For some reason, I always get the best inspiration on the train! We passed a cemetery one time, and I thought of a really pivotal scene in ym last book, and then I came up with the next idea for a book of mine when I was on the train. There must be something about them, haha.

    I also have to say that that Wordsworth quote is one of my all time favourites!

    1. Thanks, Chiara for stopping by!!! Oh my gosh, I COMPLETELY understand about accidentally losing your outlining journal. That would be SOOO sad. That's why I always put my number and email in the cover, so in case that ever happens. The worst thing that has happened though (where my journal is concerned) is a leaky water bottle a couple months ago, and it soaked the entire book. I was so sad.

      It's crazy when inspiration strikes right? It catches me at the weirdest time, so I always have my journal within reach. Don't you just love Wordsworth? him and Blake and Keats and Shelley. Some of my favorite romantic poets! :)


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