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A Christian Witch's Top Five Sources of Inspiration for Writing | Fantasy Writing with Sara

See if any of these sources can help you find your next idea to write!

Christian Witch, Christian Witchcraft, Spirituality, Religion, Slovene-American, Slovenia, Folklore, Catholic, Culture

I know, I know: this site and blog and everything are so full of Christian witchcraft that you might've forgotten I'm also a fantasy writer. (Though I hope you didn't, because that's a piece of my identity just as important as anything else.) I love fantasy, I love writing, and I absolutely adore the strikes of inspiration that come out of nowhere (while also hating that I can't stop everything to work on them right away)! So let me tell you a little bit about how I get inspiration for the stories I write, like The Glass Witch.

At one point, I remember working on The Glass Witch for so long that I started to wonder if I’d ever have any new ideas ever again. All I could think about was that one draft I’d been absolutely shredding for weeks on end, one I felt like I knew every detail of. I was stuck in that story; I could see, imagine, or think of nothing else the entire time I was going at it.


There came a few lucid moments in between writing sessions where I’d ask myself, “Is this it? What will I do when it’s done?”


Luckily, though, these questions didn’t stick around for very long. Ideas are cheap, as we’ve no doubt heard a thousand times before, and in fact, fantasy author Brandon Sanderson has much the same teaching in his university courses, where he tells students that “writing is not about the idea, but rather the skillset”—even the worst idea can be pretty decent with the right skill level, and even the best idea can be completely useless with not so hot skills.


And if you’re creative enough to think of one idea, then more ideas are bound to show up eventually. So let's get into my top five sources of inspiration for writing:


Sara's Top Five Sources of Inspiration for Writing:


Music


This is honestly my top inspiration source. In my undergraduate degree, I minored in film, where I took a course on film music; between that and my time in the high school band, music was always an integral part of a scene’s mood and pacing for me, and for imagining scenes in my head. In fact, I’ve crafted entire core parts of novels off of one song, and they’ve tended to be some of my best scenes; I’ll just play a song on repeat as I write and let that song take over.


The atmosphere different genres of music create, or that different artists put out, can instantly switch my headspace. Warsaw Village Band is one of my favorite Slavic folk bands that give me the perfect mood to write the witchy stories I love so much, and depending on the setting, features of my characters, or any other mood I’m trying to capture with them, I’ll listen to music by musicians from all over the world.


Mood music, too, like CLANN, Fleetwood Mac, video game and movie soundtracks, or anything else with the right pacing, beat, and vibe make the imagination start cranking right away. Even songs I don’t expect to do anything other than just fill the space during my work day have the tendency to make me dream something up, and then those ideas get shuffled away for later.


Travel


This one is also huge. My mother’s home country, Slovenia, is one I’ve visited a few times, and each time I go, I’m focused on the natural scenery and relaxing with a good glass of wine, sure—but I’m also out hunting for historical sites, monuments, museums, or other things that might contribute a new idea—be it a name of a country, a story of an ancient people, a folktale to riff off, or any other kernel of inspiration.


In Piran, for example, a coastal city on Slovenia’s slice of the Adriatic, there’s a church of St. Francis that holds two things that captured me: a holy water basin made of a huge seashell, and in the courtyard next door, a throne-like seat carved of a 500 year old petrified olive root. Right away, the questions started churning in my head: in a city so mermaid-like, with Tartini Square gleaming with white marble and the ocean lapping at the docks, the streets small and uneven, almost secretive, what was this big brown root doing here in the middle of it all?


Believe me when I say the answer to that is yet another book I can’t wait to write.


Obviously, though, traveling isn’t always accessible. I’m extremely fortunate to have been able to visit my mother’s homeland and engage with the language, the culture, all of it. However, traveling can be done right in your own state, or even from your own house. Being a tourist in your own state is the perfect way to find new ideas; a trip to the Newport Mansions in my home state of Rhode Island was in itself an eye opening experience, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, countless museums and other places created virtual galleries to walk through, or photos on Google Maps to place oneself in. There’s a thousand and two things to discover at any time, from anywhere, that might be your next source of inspiration.


“What If / Imagine…?”


Sometimes, questions crop up. And sometimes, answers crop up with them. When you’re talking with someone, and you hear a story—about anything, really, be it current events or just a funny story someone is telling you—engage with it! This one is hard to explain, but honestly, if you know, you know.


Imagine if your friend who lived alone was venting about not having anyone to help them around the house, telling you about their struggles. Imagine if you were joking about it, and in your goofing around, recommended they just summon a helper—old school fantasy sorcerer style?


What would happen if you just conjured one? And what if the thing you conjured wouldn’t go back when you tried to send it back?


Sounds like a story idea to me. I swear, they crop up like clovers; they pop out of the most unkempt gardens in my head, and frankly, I have no intention of doing any weeding there.


Reading


Maybe this is a no-brainer, but honestly, as a writer, reading is critical. I distracted myself from it for a long time, but when I’m stuck—and I mean, stuck, lacking not only inspiration but a certain flow and form—reading helps tremendously.


I had a project to start for NaNoWriMo a couple years ago that was puzzling me from the style I was using to write it, and it’s reading through Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale that’s helping me compare the two narratives’ form and seeing where my form is causing roadblocks. (It’s also a fantastic example of a book based in Slavic folklore, specifically Russian lore, and God knows I love that as much as I love reading Naomi Novik’s work, with its more Polish flourish).


There is absolutely nothing wrong with reading a book and finding something in it that lights a candle in your own mind. All stories have already been written, but they haven’t all been exhausted; if you can take a piece of a book and spin it into something entirely new, from asking that “What If?” question and running wild with it, then congratulations—you have a new idea to work with.


Religion & Folklore


And of course, lastly, my own faith is pretty important in how I conceptualize and understand stories. A lot of my current ideas and drafting projects are coming from my direct experiences with my "spiritual team," so to speak—from meditations with God, scholarship about the Bible or about certain folklore and culture, the Bible itself, and encounters with other entities, like pagan gods and infernal beings such as Lucifer and the rest of the Ars Goetia.


Whenever I have a revelation from them during our time—or whenever I see things that I've never seen before in meditation—it becomes another bit of fantastical fodder for whatever stories I aim to write. The scenes you see when working directly with Divinity of any kind are unlike anything you see on earth, so of course they make their way into the writing. And when you read about the many myths and folkloric aspects of cultures you love—for me, this means primarily Slovenia, as I do hope to incorporate my heritage more into my writing—the amount of things you can do, the retellings you can make, the mash-ups you can create, are endless.


And of course, the Church as an institution is so much more than a holy building. Think of all the scandals over the years, or the history of the Church and the way it's weaponized its power to destroy those who deny it. Think about the way the words of their most sacred figures have been twisted to justify that destruction. There's a lot to be said there, too, and those themes certainly show up in my work, like The Glass Witch, where people who read it will no doubt note the Catholic imagery laced throughout.

 

Now It's Your Turn: Go On and Write!


Maybe reading this post gave you a couple new ideas for how to cultivate your inspiration. Or maybe, you’ll find a couple clovers popping up in your own head the next time you settle down with a book—imagining what would happen if a character acted differently, or had a different upbringing. Let them grow! Store them somewhere safe, where you can let them flourish. Soon, you’ll find yourself with a half-dozen little weedlings that, in fact, might not be weeds at all.


They might just be a fruit, ready to harvest eventually.


 

Making Progress: Where the Gods Left Off

Christian Witch, Christian Witchcraft, Spirituality, Religion, Slovene-American, Slovenia, Folklore, Catholic, Culture

Not only did I write Kresnik's interview last week (and did it pretty well, given the notes I had to go off!) but I also got the introduction done. I may come back to it later and revise, but I think we're doing good.


This week, the focus is to get Hades' interview done, and then start on Brigid's. Then, we'll finally be ready to reformat the rest of the interviews. I still need to think of a layout for handling the many other elements that go into this book, because it's certainly going to be one of my heavier design projects—but that'll also give me some preparation for when I design the interior of Discovering Christian Witchcraft, too. It's all coming together!


This project is a milestone for me as a practitioner, and something that can absolutely help others, too, so definitely consider pre-ordering it on my website's store or on Amazon. It's one hell of a ride.

 

Christian Witch, Christian Witchcraft, Spirituality, Religion, Slovene-American, Slovenia, Folklore, Catholic, Culture

Sara Raztresen is a Slovene-American writer, screenwriter, and Christian witch. Her fantasy works draw heavily on the wisdom she gathers from her own personal and spiritual experience, and her spiritual practice borrows much of the whimsy and wonder that modern society has relegated to fairy-and-folktale. Her goal is to help people regain their spiritual footing and discover God through a new (yet old) lens of mysticism.


Follow Sara on Tiktok, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, and explore her fiction writing here.

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