February already! And how are the New Year Resolutions coming on?
Hopefully I can offer some help for this month: my blog below had ideas to get you inspired; the writing article is about suspense; my travel article introduces you to some feathered friends; there are 15 writing prompts plus three new competitions for you to try. Have a good month.
Some writers I know have so many ideas, they don’t know which one to concentrate on. Others are constantly asking what they should write about. We’re all different and we’re all inspired by different things.
For me, it’s largely places, particularly those with historical associations. I wander around castles, towns and villages thinking about the people who lived there. I can remember being particularly affected when visiting the incredible Roman amphitheatre at El Djem in Tunisia. Below the arena are the tunnels where the gladiators, prisoners and slaves waited before going to meet their fate. Just touching the walls they had touched was such an incredible feeling.
For others, it can be meeting a person or over-hearing a snatch of conversation or something from a dream. Taking a walk seems to be a popular way of getting your writing going: you’re away from your regular, domestic environment and suddenly an idea pops into your head.
In my classes, I frequently use picture prompts. (I think I mentioned the snooker-playing nun not so long ago.) And on one occasion last year, I gave one of my groups a selection of people-based pictures, all from different countries. I wanted to get them out of their comfort zone. Instead of basing their stories on their home environment, or a family similar to their own, with their own problems and conflicts, I asked them to do a bit of research about the people and the place they had chosen. Not too much, I stressed. Just a quick Internet search, I suggested, primarily to find appropriate names for their characters and a realistic conflict for that particular place.
And what a wonderful collection of stories they produced! Surviving an earthquake in Nepal; a girl defying her culture to become a Japanese cabaret dancer; elderly Mexicans waiting for a drug dealer; boys left in the rubble of the Amritsar riots; a rhino attack in Kenya; a miracle worker in South Africa and an honourable woman in Thailand. These will all be going in that group’s next anthology.
Then there’s another writer I know who’s taking part in a project where she was asked to write a story based on one painting from a particular artist’s collection. She researched the time and the place, created a wonderful character and made it all the more real by using just a taste of the local dialect. Wonderful!
Another writer finds she gets ideas when she’s doing laps in the local swimming pool: she’s created a whole new fantasy world, populated by mermaids and mermen – perfect!
My men writing friends are just as creative: one is writing a series of amusing stories about the cars he has owned; another is writing a book about a group of ramblers – not that his walking friends will recognise themselves! and another is researching the civil war in search of a character.
As I say, everyone has their own sources of inspiration. But you can always try others. Go on, take a chance, move outside your comfort zone, do some research and who knows what ideas may emerge.