It happens to me almost every single time I read a YA book.
As soon as I finish it, I aggressively fight the urge to start writing a new YA book.
I mean, there’s a reason I have neither written nor read as much as I would have liked to at this point in my life. Sometimes I have to take a YA reading hiatus because, well, it’s just going to give me too many book ideas. More than I can handle for the time being, anyway.
Still, it’s not the worst thing in the world to realize you have too many ideas and not nearly enough time.
I always say you should never go looking for inspiration. That doesn’t mean you can’t make an effort to create the ideal environment for it to blossom.
When I was in college, I spent a lot of money on “collecting” used classic books people didn’t want anymore. You know the ones. The Jane Austins and Hemmingways. Stories about white whales and treasure hunts, secret gardens. Christmas.
Some of them, I enjoyed reading. Many I did not. But I read them all — because that’s what I thought you were supposed to do. It was my duty, as an English major — as an aspiring fiction writer — to read the classic stories that had inspired so many novelists before my time.
I felt the unnecessary pressure to read those books. I thought — I hoped — that they would inspire me. But they didn’t. Not because they weren’t good, but because they weren’t the kinds of books I was interested in writing.
While I have nothing against classics, and you should definitely read the ones you’re interested in at your own convenience, I write (eh … attempt to write?) contemporary YA and new adult fiction. If I’m going to use my non-writing time to immerse myself in my preferred genre of choice, I need to consume as much relevant content as possible. Which means reading as much YA as I can.
I joke about the inspiration train smashing through the walls of cour brains uninvited and at the most inconvenient times, but I also know there are many writers out there who go months and months without grasping firmly to any new ideas that excite them. I don’t have all the answers when it comes to writing, but I can tell you this: Reading is one of your most valuable assets as an aspiring author.
If you need to feel inspired, read the kinds of books you want to write. Pay attention to what captivates you most about them. Then go back to your desk and start writing those stories, because when inspiration does finally crash into you, you have to hold tight to it while it lasts.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.