Don’t Have a Clue? 5 Tactics for Inspiration

Sometimes inspiration flashes like a thunderbolt from the sky…but in my experience, inspiration much more often something you must actively chase – like a tornado hunter.

Many of you aspiring writers might already be cooking already. The boiling roll of inspirational waters has reached a simmering point and you’re on your way. Congratulations!

But for others who are either casting around for a new idea for a short story or novel and feeling uninspired – allow me to share some of my tricks. Because I’ve been there – believe me! Nothing worse than not having a clue of what you want to write about.

PICTURE IT

Visit an art gallery, museum and let the works wash over you. Keep your mind open and then stand before a painting or sculpture that you find yourself particularly drawn to. Imagine yourself as a figure in the painting or the figure of the sculpture – what’s your story? Who are you? Or imagine you are the artist and think about what you were doing the moment you created the work. Keep your notebook handy and jot down as many thoughts as you have in 5 minutes. Don’t edit yourself just keep going until the 5 minutes are up.

Take a look at your notes and see if there’s a nugget of something you can elaborate on.

 ‘Inspiration’ is a word used by people who aren’t really doing anything. Nick Cave

POST IT

I was a member of a writing group for over 14 years – and some of our inspiration for some of our work came from our yearly retreat to a member’s cottage up in Parry Sound. We’d each come armed with pens, notebooks and writing exercises to get the creative juices flowing. One of our members had a fantastic postcard collection of evocative images.

We’d each blindly pick a postcard and then for 10 minutes we’d write a story, letting the work flow without self-censorship. We’d start by writing a first person narrative; then a dialogue and then a third person narrative; then a pure description; and so on.

Many of the work that happened in those 10-minute sessions led to longer works of fiction for all our group.

Try it yourself – use the image below.

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There are little gems all around us that can hold glimmers of inspiration. Richelle Mead

IN THE NEWS

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Literary Vs. Genre Fiction: What’s The Diff And Who Cares?

I’m a reader…a discriminating and voracious bookworm. One that loves a good story, a good yarn that unravels, wraps itself around my body, ties into my brain and then releases into a pretty skein that I can put on my shelf  – wooden or digital – to enjoy another time.

That said, the literary fiction vs. genre fiction debate and which is superior kind of escapes me.

Firstly, I’m not even sure what the difference is exactly…

From what I recall hearing over the years, the adage is genre is plot driven and literary is character driven. That I can’t say is entirely accurate.

Catcher in the Rye (a perennial and personal fave) has plenty of plot – a road movie of a novel if you will – and then there’s characters you won’t ever forget like Danny Torrance in Stephen King’s The Shining or any of the tortured characters in the mystery novels of Michael Connelly or the fantasy/sci-fi works of the wonderful Ursula K. Le Guin (who has brilliantly espoused on the attitudes literary snob types have about genre in her essay “On Serious Literature”)

One other difference I’ve heard is genre is considered fleeting entertainment while literature is supposed to challenge and make you think.

Hmmm. Yup you got it, I’m about to raise a finger here again…

No one can dispute that Charles Dickens’ novels were considered popular entertainment of the day. I think every one of his novels were published serially first for the entertainment of his readership that couldn’t afford to buy books but could afford the “instalment” plan.

Another difference I’ve heard bandied about is: genre is disposable – something you wouldn’t pick up again whereas literature is something that sustains – something you go back to again and again.

Yes, once again I must dispute the notion…

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