"Thanks, Snape!" Writing Fuel for Insane People Like Me

Why do you write? No, really. Why?

What motivates you to sit by yourself for hundreds of hours typing and playing make believe?

What makes you justify having legit feelings for a person that doesn't exist and is someone you actually created in your mind? Isn't there a mental health disorder name for this?

Do the people you create "do things" that you don't expect? Like, do you think they actually have a mind of their own? As to say they exist outside of your creative mind?

Do you find yourself wishing you were with your pretend friends instead of real people?

If you answer YES to all these questions, then you're not only insane, you're a writer!

Why do we do it? And how do we persevere when we get caught up in the realities of day-to-day "real" life? That is today's question, class.

This is why I write: because I like how good stories make me feel and I want to create those same kinds of stories. Simple. Whenever I get too busy with life (which is all the time), I have two things that bring me back to writing: reading and watching Harry Potter movies.


All I need to do when I'm in a writing slump is read one chapter of a good book. Boom. I'm back to writing. It's a reminder of why I do it. It's fuel for my writing soul. That's why I keep reading, even when I don't have the time. Even if it means reading one chapter at night before going to bed...I do it. Otherwise I will run out of gas, and the longer I sit on empty the more likely it is that I will get rusty and end up in the junkyard with the millions of people that say, "I started writing a book once..."

Harry Potter

I know this is kind of a touchy subject for some of you, but I love the Harry Potter movies just as much as I love the Harry Potter books. I didn't get to see one Harry Potter movie in the theater. It's one of my biggest regrets in life because I can't ever go back and do that. I can't ever feel the excitement of being in line for Deathly Hallows Part 2. I often think about what it must have been like for all the Potterheads to be in line at the bookstore for that final book, or in line at the movie theater after waiting for so long. I bet the anticipation was overwhelming. I bet it's similar to how I feel when I'm in line at Chipotle.

I first watched the Harry Potter movies less than two years ago. I remember it clearly. I went to Blockbuster every night and rented the next Harry Potter movie on my list. Then, on the weekend, I waited until everyone went to bed so I could watch Deathly Hallows Part 2 without distraction, and my life was changed. Yep. I'm man enough to say it. I was a grown-ass 32-year-old dude sitting on my couch in the middle of the night just absolutely floored by the story of Harry Potter and how it made me feel. From that night on it was like a new level of writing motivation was activated inside of me. I wanted to create stories that could make people feel emotions like J.K. Rowling made me feel.

That is still my goal.

When I'm in a writing slump, all I have to do is watch any one of the Harry Potter movies and I'm back at it. The feeling of being part of that world is so real to me, and it makes me analyze and think about how great of a story Harry Potter really is.

Wouldn't you love to write something like that? I would.

What do you do to get out of a writing slump? What is your writing fuel? Do have a go-to book or movie that brings you back to the reasons you started writing in the first place?


Aaron, I love what you wrote. And, I, too, love the Harry Potter movies as much as the books. When the first bars of the theme music play, I am swept away. I find my writing fuel in a lot of places and through many wonderful people, but Cynthia Rylant's book, THE VAN GOGH CAFE sums it up best: "There in the Van Gogh Cafe, he (the writer) is reminded of what he is and of what he finds beautiful. His heart swells with the revelation that he is a real writer and not meant to deliver telephone directories or produce diet books. He remembers that the artist for whom this cafe is named sold only one painting in his entire life. And the writer know that he has a book inside him." Thank you for a great post!

I don't have any specific movies or books that inspire me, but it comes down to a fantastic story with fantastic worldbuilding.

I'm the same way with HP films. Adore them. As for books, THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO kills me every time. I also love the Phillip Pullman HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy, and C.S. Lewis's Narnia series, and Susan Cooper's books, and I'm currently reading IN THE NAME OF THE WIND which is mind blowing and yeah. Gonna go read and/or write now. Great post!

I have the exact same feeling about the Harry Potter series - whether it's the books or the movies. No matter how many times I watch it, there's always something new to discover - especially looking at it as a writer. I'm in a writing slump currently as well, but stick on some Harry Potter and I can feel those creative juices stir around a bit!

Recently I've been listening to audio books. Helps me catch up on my reading list while exercising/driving. I'm totally addicted to how it helps me focus on the language and craft in a different way. Great post, Aaron.

I love the HP movies too! It was something I did with my kids as they grew up along with the characters. As for inspiration, almost any book inspires me, even the ones that I don't connect with, because they remind me of the infinite ways that words on paper can bring characters, people, to life.

Lining up with my children for the latest Harry Potter book at midnight was such a mind-blowing experience! Even in the sleepy suburb of Los Angeles where we lived at the time there were so many children, teens, and adults waiting - all chatting and making friends with each other, confident that we had so much to share thanks to our love for Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and their adventures in that aspirational world. How could I not be inspired by that?

But the greatest inspiration came from knowing that it didn't happen by magic for Jo Rowling. It took her years to get the first story written and published - years that were hard and depressing, with so many good reasons to give up. Her tenacity inspires me even more than the stories themselves.

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