Goodreads asked J. Leigh Bralick:

How do you get inspired to write?

J. Leigh Bralick This is a huge question. I mean, you could answer it as, how you get inspired to write in general, or this particular story, or a particular scene. Because writing, I find, is really a string of small and large inspirations, and inspirations can come from anywhere, at any time, as long as you have your eyes open.

You can watch the news, and maybe it's just something someone says, or the look in their eyes when they say it, and that inspires you to write an entire story. Maybe it gives you insight into one of your characters or maybe the news story itself gives you an idea for a scene or a plot turn. You can find inspiration in old photographs, in the smell of new-turned soil, in a stranger's smile, in familiar old haunts or brand new landscapes. Sometimes the thread of emotion that tugs your heart in the changing chords of a melancholy song is enough to spin legends.

But sometimes you have to actively seek or create your own inspiration. When I'm really struggling with capturing the complexity of characters, I go back to my Dostoevsky. When I'm fighting the words to express a powerful emotion like grief, I'll scour war-time photography and try to paint a verbal picture of what I see. If I feel like I've become too complacent in my own little world, I try to travel some place new...preferably some place completely different than anywhere I've been.

But then, sometimes inspiration is really mundane, like a good cup of coffee that just wakes you up enough to remember what inspired you to write in the first place. :-)

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more