We’ve all been there. No inspiration to write, but desperately wanting to at the same time. While I don’t always apply the following tips myself, when I remember to I certainly find them useful.
So we sit down to write, using whatever medium seems appropriate, waiting for the inspiration. Some of us might even change from our usual medium in the hope that the change will bring inspiration with it. Actually, I know writers who swear by this method: a switch from word processing to longhand in a notebook or visa versa has produced some wonderful prose and poetry. Sadly, it doesn’t work for me – or many others.
So you get up to make coffee (or tea – or pour some kind of alcohol). Nope. No inspiration in the kitchen. Are you sure?
The whistle of the kettle bought her back to the reality that she was making a brew for one now, not two.
He scanned the wine rack, amazed at the gaps that had not been there the previous night.
Now don’t judge: I wrote those just then. But you can see what I mean. By observing the ordinary around you, you can sometimes get that creative mind ticking.
Okay. You’ve now run out of coffee, so you grab your trusty notepad or laptop and head
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down to the local café or coffee shop. It is surprisingly quiet, but a few people are occupying tables – including your favourite one. Grudgingly, you choose another table. The barista signals that he has seen you and will bring your usual over. While it feels good momentarily, you spy the crook who stole your table. How can anyone write when they are in such a negative mood?
I couldn’t help but stare at the couple who had carelessly taken my usual table. Logic told me that they didn’t know it was my table, but I still resented them. In particular, I resented her. I was sure that was Andrea who had bullied me at school. And her male companion was stunning: she was punching above her weight yet again.
Yes, I know – not wonderful prose. But you get what I mean, right? You have characters and emotion right in front of you. And emotion. It doesn’t matter if you never use what you write in these circumstances. It means, however, that you are writing.
What about the inspiration for stories you say? I could write if I knew what I wanted to write about. How many times do writers say that to themselves, if not to other people? I’m going to give you a couple of examples from my writing experiences. Hopefully, even if the examples don’t apply to directly to you, ideas will spring into your mind of where you can find your own relevant inspiration.
Inspiration One: Genealogy
My main hobby is genealogy – tracing my family history. I love it so much that I completed the Certificate of Genealogical Research, followed by the Diploma in Family Historical Studies with the Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG). As part of the diploma, I had to write a 35,000-word thesis – with one of the topic options being a branch of your family that has been in Australia for at least six generations. I discovered so much intriguing information during the in-depth study of my family that I knew I had to fictionalise the story. This will be my first novel. Since then I have written several short stories based on other family members from different branches.
Snapshot of the Society of Australian Genealogists website
SAG also holds many courses of many different subjects of interest to genealogists: living conditions in the past, occupations, maps, tracing who lived where – too many to mention here. But much of it is useful to anyone wanting to write about a time period before their own memory.
You can also add to genealogical societies: historical societies, Facebook pages that are based on your area of interest, Pinterest – anything that will interest you, as well as provide you with information and inspiration.
Inspiration Two: Writing Prompts
I have found writing prompts very useful. While it gives you somewhere for your mind to start, it gives you the leeway to interpret the prompt to suit yourself and your own genre. I’m sure you could find plenty of websites that have writing prompts, but I get mine from Authors’ Tale, a Facebook-based writers group. This group has even published three anthologies based writing prompts: Once Upon a Wednesday, Heart of a Child and Ink Dreams.
My very first published story – two stories, in fact, are in Heart of a Child: ‘Tell Us a Story, Pa’ and “Goodnight – and God be With You All’. Neither of these stories would have happened had it not been for writing prompts. And it was writing prompts again that got me my next two published stories, this time in Ink Dreams. One story, ‘Where Dreams Die’ was selected as one of the three featured stories. Another story that I would not have written without a prompt (the prompt was ‘I’m the best there is at what I do – but what I do isn’t very nice). The other story, ‘Follow the Light’, was my first published paranormal. The prompt was ‘You are lost’.
Inspiration Three: Your Own Life in General
What? You can’t be serious! My life is way too mundane to write about. Yep. I hear you. I thought so too. But remember that you are only looking for inspiration, not the entire story. For example, we had a tap that randomly leaked. So while I waited patiently for my husband to fix it, I decided to write a more interesting reason for the drip: a little girl ghost kept turning it on.
So – find your inspiration people: it’s often where you least expect it.
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Categories: writer's block
Kerry A Waight - Author
A writer of historical fiction and paranormal stories.