New year and a new writing lesson

Happy new year – the phrase you’re probably hearing, slash seeing for the hundredths time between today and yesterday. Gosh even I’m starting to get tired of the phrase and I absolutely love this time of year.

It’s very possibly my favourite time of year. January just has that energy you know, where people are slowly rolling their shoulders and straightening their backs so they can charge this new beginning. There are kids who are excited for going to first grade – or in other words the “big kid’s school”. There are young adults who are finally planning a year that doesn’t involve school and who looks forward to meeting new people in university.

It’s also a time where people set goals and create lists and let themselves start to dream about the new year and all the things and places and people they’ll see during it.

I myself have been a complete sucker to the whole experience this year. You see what I didn’t write about in December – like I should have – is that I’m walking into 2017 with a new hairstyle, wardrobe, mindset, and goals with a decent holiday behind my back where I did a bunch of exciting stuff that range from spelunking, to swimming and movie marathon-ing and many more things.

New Year new me – that’s the other thing I’m getting tired of hearing; but I love it anyway.

So with all the excitement of it bumbling inside me I decided on a proper topic for this month’s blog posts and that is… inspiration.

This is becoming the ultimate cliché for me to write about because I’m certain I’ve written a blog post series on it nearly every year for the past two years.

Who cares – I’m doing it again. This time, a little different.

No ‘you can do it’ inspirational speeches. No ‘how to gather up inspiration’ tutorials, or anything else like that.

Instead I’m going to make this first post really simple and about one definite topic.

How to find inspiration in the world around you.

Life isn’t always easy but there are lot of story ideas hidden around you if you care to look for it. (Yes this whole post is writing related)

So let’s get into how you can search and find those ideas and inspirations.

Mindset: Positivity.

I don’t know if those who know me would agree with me on this – but despite the fact that I struggle with positivity, I like to think of myself as a positive person who sees the bright side in most situations.

It’s an important skill that, like most others, I taught myself.

I mentioned this right off because I believe that being positive is part of why we manage to see inspiration in bad places.

Somewhere in the past two years I was feeling really anxious to that point where my lungs seemed to close off and I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. I clutched my head and sank to the floor as I tried to dislodge the twisted thoughts running through my head. Then suddenly I found myself smiling amidst the bad feeling. Not because I was feeling any better but because it occurred to me then that at least I can write about that specific feeling as well. If my characters felt scared or anxious I had real life experience to draw from. That’s pretty cool isn’t it?

So I’ve been cultivating this sense of positivity so whenever I’m in a bad situation I can actually see all sides to it and then later exploit it for a creative base.

Not to mention, being positive actually makes you enjoy the happy moments more too. You’re mind is more likely to notice all the details of a moment when you’re positive about it than when you’re negative.

(Please note that there is a difference between being positive and ignoring all your problems. Please let me know if you want to delve deeper into this topic)

Action: Sight seeing.

The second part of seeing the world in a more inspiring way is to actually go out into it.

At home I come up with about three story ideas daily. That may sound like quite a lot but it’s not really anything compared to what I find when I’m away from home.

This holiday I’ve been on so many great places; I’ve seen mountains that look like giants, oceans that smell so strongly of salt that I can nearly choke on the air just standing on the beach, horses that gallop along muddy tracks, rivers that cut deep paths though the ground and many more wonderful things.

Sure you can read four to five books about owls on the internet but it’s not the same as going out and seeing an owl face to face.

The more input you get from the world around you the more things you have to add to the inner world of your stories, it’s as simple as that.

Input: Read a lot.

Let’s say it again.

Read. A. Lot.

Anything and everything with words on was meant to be read and so you should go right ahead and do just that. Read books in the genre that you want to write in – this will give you an idea of how to write. Read books outside of the genre that you want to write in – this will give you insights that your genre can’t give. Read magazines and brochures. Read those pamphlets at the doctor’s office; even if they’re scarier than the doctor himself. Read advertisements and wonder about how much work and study is behind it – was there an artist involved? Any psychology?

Read with an open mind and let it sweep into you and your work.

This will not only add to your skill level but also give you more ideas. It give you things to think on and show you that funny books is just as good as depressing books. You’ll find ideas that you wouldn’t have even thought about before.

Lastly: Talk to people.

People are these complicated bundles of stories, passions, sadness, hopes and fears.

There is this joke among writers where we say we’re going to put people who cross us into our books and then kill them.

Violent? Yes. Funny? Maybe.

More to the point though, putting fragments of people and into your stories isn’t technically a bad thing. You want your characters to be people and not just clichés.

So talk to people and actually listen to what they have to say. That funny story that they tell every time you hang out with them might actually be perfect for your next book (even if it is simply back-story)

The heart of a story (or at least mine) is in the characters and so you want people to relate to them. Pay attention to the people around you so you can integrate that human aspect into your characters. Each person you meet has their own story to tell and so have potential to be a character.

There you go then, I’m done. Now remember to keep a phone or a little booklet with you at all times so when these ideas strike, you can jot them down without any hassle.

On my phone I have colour note for this (although if you have any other apps to suggest go ahead) and in my handbag I carry a notebook at all times. (A tutorial about setting ne up will be coming out next week)

Now you’re going to go out there and enjoy this New Year with all its energy for change. Go and write that thing you’ve always wanted to write and most of all enjoy the journey.

Tell me where do you get most of your inspiration?

Any and all comments welcome!

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