C.T. Charles

Official Author Website

Picture a Cure for Writer’s Block

Photo © CT Charles

Photo © CT Charles

Want to know a great way to kick writer’s block to the curb? Motivate your muse? Create characters with real character?

Find a great photographer’s website, or even a photo sharing site like Flickr, and peruse the images you find there.

As writers, we are encouraged to read, read, read in order to find inspiration and hone our craft. Emulating the greats, like Hemingway or Steinbeck, can only lift a writer higher. Reading other writers’ works teaches us technique, inspires us to do more, and sparks our own ideas.

As a photographer, I find looking at other photographer’s photos works the same way. A great photograph inspires me, moves me, teaches me technique, and sparks ideas for my own photography.

A great photograph also sparks ideas for my own writing. A picture is worth a thousand words. Or more. Literally.

Take Tom Hussey’s Reflections series, for example. Each powerful photo could be a novel unto itself. Several novels. What story each picture evokes in you will be different from the one it evokes in me. If you’re a writer, you will look at one of those photos and think of a story. It’s almost impossible not to.

Go further to Tom Hussey’s website and browse his portraits. Each person he has photographed is a very unique character. So many possibilities! Perhaps one of those faces could be the hero or heroine in a novel. Maybe a secondary character. A villain. See the lady in curlers with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other? She’s old Mrs. Grady, the eccentric landlady at an apartment complex in a seedy side of town. At least, that’s who she is in my short story, Aftermath.

There are many other photographers whose works might cause you to begin typing one hundred words a minute. Ansel Adams and Clyde Butcher are favorites of mine for evoking a mood or a setting. Perhaps Mathew Brady could be an inspiration for a historical or Civil War era writer. Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York is another great source for characters and stories. The world – and web – is full of great photographers, famous or unknown, professional or hobbyist. Even your own home could be a treasure trove of muse magic. Have you looked through that box of old family photos lately?

Photographs are also great for those of you, like myself that use Story / Plotting Board and Inspiration Board techniques for plotting and motivation throughout the novel writing process.

Just a reminder, the photos you find online are usually copyrighted and not in the public domain for use on your website, blog, etc. without permission. Look at, enjoy, and utilize those photographs for your own inspiration. And if a photo (or several) particularly inspires or moves you, why not let the photographer know? They’re artists just like you and enjoy receiving feedback, too.

I guarantee you, if you try this technique, writer’s block will melt away and your muse will come swimming back into your imagination. Your fingers will fly across the keyboard and magic will happen.


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