I am always consuming stories. As I work during the day, I always have podcasts playing in the background. Early each morning, before the sun comes up, I read. And when I’ve finished all my work for the day, I either hop over to Netflix or pull up my YouTube subscription box.
Reading. Watching. Listening. Stories. When anyone asks me where my ideas come from, what inspires me, I don’t give the name of a person. I credit the experience of stories that have in one way or another shaped my existence – the way I think, how I behave, what I believe.
Reading, watching, listening to stories already written is what inspires me to continue creating my own. Exposing yourself to someone else’s ideas shows you what is already out there. You see one story progress from start to finish and you find yourself thinking, “I wonder what would have happened if X.”
And then your brain does that thing you can’t ever fully understand: it forms a new idea.
Last week, I read Year of Yes. I listened to a Nerdette episode featuring 20+ minutes of Tom Hanks talking about typewriters. On Saturday, I saw Hidden Figures. Three very different things that all made me wonder why I’ve been so “lazy” lately.
I don’t mean lazy in the way it sounds. I get up, I do my work, I relax. All normal stuff. But I usually spend more time creating than I do consuming – and since the end of last year, that’s flipped. It’s not a permanent change; I’m easing into 2017 with as little unnecessary stress as possible, to recover from a particularly exhausting holiday season. But I’m starting to feel anxious – the way you do when you have a few really good ideas but haven’t gotten the chance to work on them yet.
But I think I would rather feel this way, honestly – humming with the desire to craft something new out of fragments of old things – than overly tired and lost in a brain drought. I read and I watch and I listen because that is what energizes me. The more I consume, the more I want to create. And I can assume with confidence that, at least to some degree, the same goes for you.
Maybe you don’t indulge in all three at the same time or ever. Many people find podcasts boring. Same with TV or books. But there has to be at least one medium you consume – one that inspires you to create things when that time comes around. The time you spend consuming someone else’s story is just as important as writing your own.
No story idea is 100 percent original. We take bits and pieces from things we consume to create our own things. But you can’t do that if you don’t consume. I can’t even take credit for the reading/watching/listening concept – Geek Bomb already coined PWR’D. That’s where my #ReadListenLearn Instagram posts came from. See? Consuming = creating. Maybe you don’t like the word consuming, but alliteration. Stick with me.
What’s your “writespiration”? What are you reading? Watching? Listening to? How did the work you’re most proud of come to be – what writespired you to start it?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.