One of the toughest challenges people face is that they want to write...But have no idea what to put on a sheet of paper. I don't mean the more traditional "I know what I want to say, but don't know how to say it" situation that befalls me regularly. I mean the literal "I don't know what to write" situation of someone that wishes to be creative and cannot find something to apply that creativity to.
First and foremost, the question must be asked if writing is, in fact, the form of expression best suited to a person's feelings! Maybe they would be better off painting, or building something out of Lego, or taking pictures, or even just adding some art into a physical activity such as sports!
If writing is indeed what the person wants to do, though, the standard answer is "write what you know." Knowing something is fine, but having a passion enough to write about that something? If you feel like you know it down, pat, and rote, well, you'd better be writing for an audience because you're not going to dazzle yourself with new ideas. Most likely you'll either rehash old ones, or just get bored and give up.
No...Inspiration - at least in my current circumstances - comes from seeing something that already exists and going "what can I do with these ideas that hasn't been done before."
Inspiration for NaNoWriMo Novels
This year, I'm writing a space opera. Okay, so perhaps not a space opera - but certainly not a space by-all-laws-of-physics, and definitely not just a story about space ships blowing one another up constantly. Oh...I'm sure there's gonna be some of that all! But I'm going to be much more involved in the intricacies (or lack thereof) of diplomacy and balance-of-power affairs.
Where does this come from? For most of my life, I've played Master of Orion games. I was introduced to MOOII, which is an all-time great. It amounted to little more than "civilization in space and with awesome player-controlled combat to boot!" I've never actually played MOO1, which is...Probably going to change some day, but not now. And when MOO3 was announced, holy crap, it seemed so awesome...And was! Until those of us who played it realized that the game we'd been promised and the game we got were as alien to one another as Antarans and Gnolams. That is to say, one was always super awesome and advanced, and the other was so -blah- that it was removed from the game, more or less. Basically, it doesn't even work.
Right now, MOOII is my space-empire-game god-of-choice. Un-paid-for-plug? I picked it up at Good Old Gamers' for dirt cheap with full DOSBOX compatibility solutions, meaning it plays flawlessly and is fully patched. I've read interviews by the GoG people and, no joke, they're legit. Check it out and give it a try.
I have always been fascinated by MOO's capacity for customization, as well as ship class systems, and that's reflected in previous writings of mine in the first place. I'm trying to get some of that to shine through in my work, while at the same time trying to make the work itself pretty awesome. When you have a source of inspiration, even one that's second-hand, (Battlestar Galactica helped feed me into MOOII again, for example) it can make writing a lot easier on you because you'll know what your work "might look a little like," although it by no means has to.
So far, so good! I hope!
Obligatory Word Count: 5,632. That's about where I wanted to be, perhaps a bit higher even! I have some time this week to burtn out a lot of writing and while its the easy, early-onset writing, well...Its going great.