I slip off my robe, hang it up and climb onto the bed, covering myself with the provided towel and blanket. Time for a nice relaxing massage. The room is dimly lit by a red light. That’s right, a RED light. How is that relaxing at all? Red is an intense and emotional colour. Red is definitely not calming and relaxing. And, believe me, there was no relaxation going on in my mind.
In fact, my mind was racing with ideas. Ideas for my second book. I came out of that RED room with so much inspiration and so many ideas. I was a little more relaxed and I did enjoy my massage but there was no deep relaxation, especially not in my mind, going on today.
This got me thinking, a question that so many writers are asked is always where do you get inspiration from?
So where do writers get inspiration from?
The answer to this question is often the same, actually it’s probably usually the same from most authors. “Inspiration is all around us” “I get inspiration from day-to-day life” “people watching” and then the usual “news, always keep your eye on the news”.
Does that answer your question? Yes! It does. But I’m sure you don’t feel satisfied with that answer, do you?
Why is that answer not enough?
Did you realize the answer isn’t enough for you? Did you just accept it and move on?
The reason why the answer to the question “Where do you get your inspiration for writing from?” doesn’t satisfy many aspiring writers (myself included) is because you’re asking the wrong question.
What should I be asking?
Good question! You should be asking how do you turn the inspiration from everyday events into story ideas? And how do news articles or people influence you to create stories? How can you turn a simple event into a whole new story idea?
Let’s get into that…
For me, this is the fun part about writing. I have been asked so many times if what I am writing about is “real”, or if it “really happened”. I’m sure it has to someone. Not to me though. As a fiction writer, I pride myself on my imagination. My imagination is my biggest gift. My imagination is what turns everyday life into something completely different.
- A woman is telling her child “Don’t do that, you will fall!” This is where I think; “Ooh, if he fell what could happen? Could he break a bone? Could he die? How would she react? Would she freak out? Would she stay calm?”.
- A woman’s child drowns. Now I wonder, what are the long term effects of this. What psychological issues could this cause her? How does she carry on living every single day? Does she really live or is she purely surviving?
So, the real way to find inspiration is to ask this question.
What if the child did fall? What if the building burnt down? What if the train derailed? What if that boy fell in love with the girl he just walked passed? What if that dog ran after the black cat from down the road?
So, writers get their inspiration from asking the question “What if?” and it’s the best question you could ever ask as a writer. The options and answers you can create are endless. The imagination is an amazing, completely messed up, phenomenal thing.
After today, when I was lying in my red room of non-relaxation I realized how lucky I am to know that I need to ask “what if?”. I am thankful for a very vivid imagination (sometimes too vivid). I am also thankful for times when I don’t expect inspiration to strike. I was lying in a red room where I saw no one and my mind went crazy with ideas (none of them massage inspired) and there was nothing else “really” to inspire me. Other than the question “what if?” and my own mind.
I’m asking you to take 10 minutes and ask yourself “what if?” to a few random scenarios. Pick up a newspaper and ask yourself “what if this headline happened to me?” or “what if my character won the lotto?”. You get the point. It’s a great little exercise. It’s fun too. So go have a little fun with your imagination. All you need is a little bit of time and a wonderful mind.