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If you are a writer there are going to be days that inspiration just doesn’t come on its own. Here are few tried and true inspirational pieces that help me get the creativity muse working.

Movies

Dead Poets Society (1989) starring Robin William, Robert Sean Leonard, and Ethan Hawke always inspires me to pick up a pen. This coming of age story inspires me because of the character Neil Perry, played by Leonard, who is struggling against what his parents expect him to become. Neil wants to be an actor, his parents want him to be a man of business like his father. But Neil meets Professor John Keating who tosses aside textbooks and encourages his students to stand on school desks. Have you ever stood on a school desk?  It is pretty high up there.

Steel Magnolias (1989) starring Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field, and Julia Roberts plus a supporting cast that is equally as famous. This is women’s lit on screen featuring a complex story of friendship, romantic love, and mother-daughter love. There isn’t an emotion you can feel that isn’t in this movie: love, hate, jealously, and laughter. This movie inspires me because of the various ages of the characters and the emotional and friendship growth that we see over the course of the movie.

Books

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a novel that will inspire any writer to greatness. First this novel has one of the greatest lawyers ever written in Atticus Finch. There is intrigue with both the trial of Tom Robinson and the childhood spook stories of Boo Radley. However what captures my attention and what truly inspires me is that Mockingbird is written from the perspective of Atticus’s daughter, young Scout. It is Scout’s perceptive yet innocent description of events that should give every writer inspiration to look at situations from a new viewpoint to see if it will improve their story.

When I need to be inspired by laughter and humor, I always turn to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Evanovich not only knows how to pack her novels with humor, but she weaves in a good mystery and a lot of sexual tension. The romance is real but not explicit; the kind that leads you right up to the bedroom but then allows you to use only your romantic creativity to fill in the blanks about what goes on beyond the door. So far there are eighteen books in the series and each one is better than the last.

Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter by Josh Gates is the book to read to be inspired about travel and adventure. Gates is a real-life mixture of Indiana Jones, Allan Quatermain, and MacGyver. His travelogue opens up our eyes to the world beyond America’s doorstep. Not only does Gates provide background into his TV show  (of the same name), but this memoir is filled with pop culture references and common sense lessons about our ecosystem, Amelia Earhart, and the existence of monsters and paranormal phenomena.  This book is both funny and heart-warming.  And it makes me want to fill my passport with stamps from countries I’ve as of yet not seen.

Music

Music that inspires me has to tell me a story. Sometimes I need upbeat tunes such as Garth Brooks hit song, “Papa Loved Mama” about a hopelessly in love truck driver and his cheating wife or Barry Manilow’s dance production “Copacabana” about young lovers. If I’m looking for more somber and emotional music, Evanscence’s Fallen album is filled with gems like “My Immortal” and then my long-time favorite R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion.” If you are looking for the king of story-telling in music you have to listen to The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. Just about any Springsteen song is poetry to music however there are a few that I feel make my point very clearly. Listen to “Night with the Jersey Devil”, “Meeting Across the River”, or “Thunder Road”.  In each of these offerings, Springsteen weaves both music and words that will spark your creativity and jump start your muse.

Finding What Works For You

The key to finding your inspiration is keeping your eyes open for new sources all the time. Read new authors, research new topics, tune to new music stations, and continually keep an open mind. Your next great story could be sparked by a slight phrase or emotion. Collect those and hold on tight until you squeeze your best from them.

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