Sometimes to find inspiration, we need to look hard to find the treasure. I’ve been battling a large writer’s block this past few months and in my efforts to crawl out of it, I found that taking a break was very helpful. I treated myself to watching the Indiana Jones series, and I found a few things about each film that got me back in action.
I hope they help your writing as much as they’ve helped mine.
5) You gotta get out of the library.
Indiana: “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you gotta get out of the library”
– Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I think this is true of all artists. I spent a great deal of my time reading and researching different ways to write my story, but I was getting bogged down with ideas. I put so much pressure on myself that I forgot to get out in the world and live a little. This past month, I made it a point to do a bit of travelling, taking in a bit of culture along the way. This rejuvenated me and helped me get the fresh air experience I’ve been avoiding for months. I have a story about some old historical homes I want to start writing, so I plan to get out and tour some of the turn-of-the-century architecture we have locally. Seeing them first hand will no doubt give me perspective I wouldn’t normally have when writing.
4) You shouldn’t be in it for the Fortune and Glory.
Men have wasted their lives in the pursuit of riches. Obsessed with trying to do well in several screenwriting competitions, I lost sight of why I wanted to write in the first place. Again, the pressure I put on myself to succeed far outweighed just trying to tell a good story. People obsessed with being the best will lose sight of the things that matter most. The pursuit of a good script should have been my focus, rather than the pursuit of a successful career. Once I dropped the high expectations I had for my future, I could finally concentrate on just writing.
3) You must choose, but choose wisely.
Much like Mr. Donovan in The Last Crusade who chose a cup that did not realistically represent the holy grail, I too chose to pursue a story that would be way too over-the-top. In my pursuit for a prize, I found that my creative process was no longer fulfilling. Whenever I write something that doesn’t completely suck it comes from a place of heart, rather than trying too hard to impress others. The prestige of wanting to be a great writer consumed me, and I forgot my humble beginnings. Choosing a story that will “fill your cup” is far better than a story that will “decorate your cup.” After all, it’s the substance you need, not the bling.
2) Friends are a great treasure.
Throughout the Indiana Jones series, Indy relies a great deal on his friends to help him out of danger. I was under the belief that he worked alone, but the evidence is quite the contrary. Keeping your problems to yourself is never a good idea. I kept my writing and emotional problems a secret for several months, which only fuelled the nightmarish fog I was living in. Much like Short Round in the Temple of Doom, my friends helped me snap out of the daze I was in with a little tough love. There isn’t much power in living with absolute solidarity. It only makes you a miserable human being with clouded judgement. Your close friends can offer you a perspective on your own life you wouldn’t have on your own. Bouncing my ideas off of people, and sharing my creative passions with great conversation, I successfully reignited the writing spark I once lost.
1) Never give up.
Marion: “You’re not the man I knew ten years ago.”
Indiana: “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”
– Raiders of the Lost Ark
Regardless of any situation Dr. Jones is thrust into, he always makes it out alive. Why? He never gives up fighting. He is always looking for an opportunity at every turn. He doesn’t plan either. He goes along with whatever is thrown his way. I think this is a great philosophy to have toward your writing as well. If Indiana Jones gave up when things got tough, he wouldn’t make any grand discoveries. As writers, we always need to find new ways to tackle the same challenges. Leave no stone unturned and leave your fears behind. There’s always a way out of a problem, we just have to look hard enough. Sometimes we have to fight for what we believe in. Sometimes you have to take big risks. Sometimes we have to battle an endless barrage of negativity in order to get ahead. Take a page from Indiana Jones’s book, and never give up. You’ll never know how close you got to a great story if you don’t go looking for it.