Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Author's Journey - Part 1 The Seed of Inspiration

Welcome back to the very first part of my blog series, The Author's Journey. I am writing this as part of my Master of Arts (Writing) under the subject PWR70002 - Online Writing.

Each week, I will post a new blog topic, covering a small part of the author's journey, using my own experiences, my own mistakes, learned skills, and creative processes to help emerging writers find their writerly self and create their own masterpieces. I will also suggest a writing exercise to get those creative juices flowing.

This week, I will look at the seed of inspiration. That moment when you come up with an idea and what you need to do with that to nurture it and help it sprout. Of course it would be easy just to give you some points, some tips and then just assume it will work for you, but that is not how I work.  I want you to come along a journey with me. I want to inspire you to create your own journey.

As an author, I love to listen to people, I love to hear their ideas. So many of my story ideas come from something someone has said, or perhaps a news article, even a story I read that I thought could have gone in another direction. Inspiration is all around us, it is about finding it.

So how do we find it?

In its simplest form, inspiration is everywhere. The seed of an idea could come from anywhere at any time and this is why you need to always have a notepad and pen, or some other form of implement that will allow you to write down or record your ideas.

Personally I carry a small A6 size note book and pen in my bag, I prefer to jot down ideas but don't forget you can also send yourself messages on your phone, via email or even in a recorded message, however my advice is always to ensure that you keep all of your ideas in the one place. Keeping those pieces of inspiration together means that if you do get stuck, you can flick through a notebook or folder with ease - rather than scrolling through emails/recorded messages etc. Being unorganised with your ideas is just as bad as not writing them down!

So where to find inspiration if you're not sure you have anything to write?

Always remember that EVERYTHING around you is fodder for writing. Yes EVERYTHING.

Sitting in a coffee shop, listening to the conversations going on around you could be the opening scene of your next book.

The two toddlers squabbling over a favourite toy at the park? Perhaps those two little girls later squabble over the running of a multinational corporation in your book.

I was once sitting at my daughter's swimming carnival watching the kids race laps in the pool when an idea came to me. A story questioning how well we know our neighbours. What inspired that? It was my daughter's friends sharing their stories, of the mum who gets up at 3am each day to cook lunches for her children, the other child who was excited to be meeting her father on the weekend. It made me think, how well do we know people and how many secrets do people really have?

Luckily, though I was prepared for a day of water and chlorine, I had also packed a notebook and pen. By the end of the carnival, between cheering for my daughter's sporting house I had jotted out the entire book's premise.

Another moment of inspiration came for me under somewhat tragic circumstances. I was in Sydney, doing the touristy things that people are wont to do, when we came upon a man who was suffering from some mental health issues. I was completely fascinated by his thought processes and his speech patterns. He half sang-half ranted about God and about an imaginary friend beside him. What he said stuck with me, and later became part of one of my storylines. Using examples from life gives realness to stories. People are fascinating and I never miss an opportunity to learn about different types of personalities - especially if they are fractured or flawed.

So, now, I recommend to have a go at an exercise, to find your own inspiration.

Forget about any project that you are procrastinating on. Forget those other ideas and scribbled notes. I want you to go somewhere different to your usual places of comfort. Head to a sporting event, take a walk along the beach, find a high spot on a large grassy hill and write what you see, write what you hear, write what you feel.

I'd love to see how you go with a fresh piece of a paper and an new place of inspiration.

To end this week's blog post, I will use one of my favourite quotes: "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing" Benjamin Franklin.

Thanks again for dropping by, I hope to put these topics up frequently, so I can share my journey with you and hopefully inspire in you an incredible manuscript.

Until next time,


Amanda Howard

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