I came across this blog yesterday, written by a gal named Molly (a.k.a Tick Tock), under Freshly Pressed. Molly is a thru-hiker, which means she hikes entire trail systems…for fun. Mexico to Canada—sure! Georgia to Maine—why not?
While I enjoy the occasional destination hike, to a waterfall or rock outcropping with a view you can’t experience by car, I am not a hiker or even very outdoorsy. My husband jokes that my idea of camping is a hotel without a jacuzzi tub. And he’s not wrong. I laugh when people suggest I explore the joys of sleeping in a tent. No. Just no. The last time I did that I was ten, and my dad pitched it in our living room because it was cooler than a pillow fort.
Molly’s blog only caught my attention because in Book 2, my protagonist has to spend some time out of her comfort zone traipsing around the woods looking for a vamp. Because I am unwilling to, like a method actor, take up camping to get to know my story better, I am researching the subject from the comfort of my air conditioned living room.
I am familiar with the more touristy parts of the area my protagonist will be hunting from first hand experience. For the past week, I have been scouring boring trail descriptions on the internet, studying maps and pictures, and feeling more depressed with every passing day with the prospect of writing about any of it.
Then enter Molly. One twenty minute jaunt through her posts about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail—which I didn’t even know was a thing—gave me enough inspiration for two new characters and at least as many chapters. Why? Because her telling of her experience made it real for me. I could feel the mud in my shoes (ick), the stares of the tourists and even the desire to be by myself instead of crammed into a shelter with a dozen other hikers. Which is totally a testament to her writing ability because, did I mention I am not a hiker?
I don’t know why it never occurred to me to use blogs in my research. Maybe because I’m new to blogging myself. Maybe because I still do research in a library. I read blogs all the time about writing, editing, and books, but I never thought to read any about the stuff my character does or the places she goes. Am I the only one that forgets other people experience the sh*t we only write about?
So if you are struggling with inspiration, I encourage you to go check out the Freshly Pressed, step out of your comfort zone and find a new muse.