This really isn’t something that I struggle with usually – the balance tends to be more just deciding which ideas to focus on in my writing time. I do know, however, the blankness of having no idea of where to start – here are five of the places that I get inspiration:
1. Everyday life
Something strange I see, or something bizarre will often spark a thread of thought that ends with ‘that would be a great story.’ Usually I don’t even write them down – but I do carry a tiny notebook in an effort to encourage myself to do so! (phone notes work well too). Leslie Parrie, author of Church of Marvels, illustrated this in the interview I did with her – saying: “Above all, stay curious. Stay curious. Stay curious.”
I am always ALWAYS looking for a story – if I can’t find one in an image or song it means very little to me. But I can usually find one! I have a Pinterest board and a real – life scrapbook (less used) that I can flick through to get ideas. It’ll usually give me a glimpse of a story that I can begin to flesh out.
Visiting unusual and exciting places always makes me imagine what could have happened there, who lived there, what was their life like. Depending what type of thing you like writing you could visit castles, cities, dungeons, fields… spy headquarters? I follow National Geographic on Instagram too as well as reading their magazine – as a substitute for actually travelling – which always has amazing and inspirational places!
4. Concepts or ideas
I got an idea that has shaped much of the book I’m currently working on whilst reading Quiet by Susan Cain. I had a ‘what if?’ moment, which worked itself into a story. Also annoyances: I started a story (probably not to be finished…) in response to how female superheroes tend to be portrayed about a shy, quiet, fairly normal superhero. Then realised I knew only what the big screens show and that in the enormous world of comics it is (hopefully?) more varied. But yes: concepts can turn into stories!
I can remember sitting staring at a screen trying to think of a story to write for my creative writing course at Uni. I couldn’t think of anything at all, so asked my friend to tell me what to write a story about. She said ‘The Sea’ and immediately a story and characters jumped into my head. Often when we have blankness it’s hard but as soon as there’s something to latch onto ideas flow easier. Set yourself a challenge, or write words on bits of paper and pick one, or ask a friend… set some boundaries and your imagination will soar!
How do you get ideas for stories? Have you tried any of the above?