Also helping me out is a clear idea of what I don't want to write. I find a lot of creative inspiration in B-movies and cult films, which sounds like a hipsterish thing to say, but hear me out. A movie like Project: Kill, for all its warts, is much more inspiring than Shawshank Redemption (which I also like) because the latter had every advantage going for it - money, equipment, star power, etc. It's hard for me to root for something that has so many blessings. B-movies are made from what's left over; older, has-been stars, veteran character actors, grotesques, and new actors who haven't met the right people yet. It's a much more interesting dynamic than mainstream Hollywood movies where everyone is blandly pretty and often rich to boot. That doesn't make me want to create the way The Warriors or even Surf Nazis Must Die does.
Oh, and I'm closing in on the end of Kafka On the Shore, so I'll post a review when I get there. The book itself is very flawed, but it's hooked me on Murakami's writing.