I live in Scotland, so when it comes to awe inspiring scenes, I’m pretty spoilt. However, as stunning as my environment is, the reality, a mum to four young children, I don’t get out as much as would like.
Instead of daily walks through stunning landscape, sweeping hills, I rush to get children ready for school, complete the house work, and try to fit in as much writing as I can before they return home. The house, nine times out of ten, messy within the hour… again.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t swap my life for anyone, but the hectic schedule, and mundane tasks of day to day living, doesn’t always leave room for seeking inspiration.
Here are some of the things I do to help spark ideas. They may not all work for you, but at the very least, they may inspire you to find and create your own methods.
- My biggest, and most used tactic, is keeping a note book close to hand. I’m not sure about others, but I’m a light sleeper. I drift of dreaming, and wake dreaming, my dreams vividly compacted with hundreds of ideas. So that I don’t forget, I write down the bits I like the most, as well as random ideas that come to me during the day. With your ideas down on paper, you can refer to them later, brainstorm concepts.
- Read… A lot. I love reading, and although I have my favourite genres, I will often read across different types, horror, thrillers, comedy, history, etc. You never know what might offer you fresh insight.
- Note: I do not mean copy another person’s work, but merely, that by filling your minds with a barrage of other worlds, something within them may trigger the foundations of your own world. For example: I read a book about Scandinavian mythology (History), and one of my favourites, Faerie tale, by, Reymond E. Feist, (Fiction, super natural thriller, Fantasy.) This particular story is based around Irish Gaelic mythology. Drawing inspiration from both, I created, A LEGACY OF BLOOD, which is based on both Celtic mythology, and Scandinavian, but the story, world I created, is nothing like Faerie Tale.
- Making time for friend and family, or what I call, ‘Brain storming lunches’. Whether it is my sister, mum, friend, in person or over the phone. I grab my note book and start bouncing my ideas off them. It can help narrow down the, ‘that won’t work’ ideas, and solidify the good ones.
- Music. A lot of writers prefer a quiet work environment, I’m sure I would to, but for me, it isn’t really and option. To drown out the kid’s programs on the T.V, loud play, and petty squabbling, I listen to music. In adopting this method, I have discovered that songs evoke emotion, which is what they are mean’t to do, and in turn this emotion, inspires scenes.
- Listening. You would be surprised and the diversity of conversation that pass your ears as you sit in waiting room, pick up kids, do the shopping, etc. Use of language, dialect, phrases, have often helped me to develop characters.
- Note: I don’t mean spy or hide behind a corner and eavesdrop, that would be weird. I mean, the general flow of conversation that you can’t escape hearing.
- History. You can draw a lot of inspiration from history, whether that’s local or global. It may be a personal quirk, but I Iove documentaries, and often have them playing in the background while I do the housework, cook, etc. I recently watched world war two in colour and was not only inspired to write a military romance, I was unable to wait until my current book was finished and have started it already.
- Nature. Obviously, nature isn’t mundane, far from it. Taking a walk is undoubtedly going to inspire. What I mean, is nature whilst stuck in the mundane, the house. I purposely placed my desk next to the window, so that when I am writing I can peer outside, give my eyes a break from the glare of the screen. No matter what view you have, your eyes will always be drawn to the sky, the weather, birds, seasons as they change. Even if some days the window is the only portal to nature you have, it can, and does inspire.
- Fresh air. Whether it is hanging out the washing, popping to shop. Fresh air helps bring clarity to thoughts. Open a window if weather permits, the doors to the garden. If you pay close attention, you can pick out individual scents which will automatically evoke a memory, and subsequently, an idea. For example, its cold here now, Scottish winter and all, but whilst hanging out the washing I could smell wood burning, probably from the adjoining farm, or neighbours chimney stack, either way, it instantly reminded me of cosying up in front of my fire, Christmas, bonfire night, the countless firework shows I’ve seen, family, camping adventures, childhood. It provided the bases of one scene in, MORNING STAR, and all I did was hang out the washing.
- Use your imagination often. I have mentioned absorbing the product of others imagination, reading, music, etc, but using your own is just as important, if not more so. My children are great for this, their young minds wonderfully brimming with fantastical ideas, play. Writing is my dream job, my escape. It is sometimes easy to get so involved in your work that you forget to take a moment and step back. Make time to play with your kids, read to them. My kids are forever running around the house, lost in another world. If your kids are the same, ask to be a part of it. I’ve been a giant this week, a dead soldier (my son shot me in the head), a unicorn, and wicked witch. Playing the characters, opened up a whole new wave of thoughts, which are where ideas originate from.
- Driving. When you work full time, have a growing and demanding family, driving from one task to another, is often the only form of travel you get. Its easy to take the journey never really paying attention to your surroundings. Try to, safely of course. A lot is happening, for example, taking my son to nursery, getting petrol. I pass fields, little villages, pheasants sprouting up from nowhere, flocks of birds, impressive clouds, sunsets, sunrises, cattle, hills, patch works of different produce growing at different intervals, each one slightly different in colour. Rain bouncing of the pavement, mud, fog so thick you can’t see in front of you. Everyday is different, if you take note, observe, you can draw on what you are seeing, set the wheels in motion, no pun intended.
- Pictures. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so when it comes to visual likes and dislikes, each will vary. Personally, for me, I love landscapes, nature. If I know what I am going to write about, the settings, locations, I try to source images of those areas. I keep them in my picture file, so I can revisit them when I need to, or, if you have the time, ordering them to run as a screen saver. We may have visited the area before, but looking upon them again brings back the memories, gives you a point of focus. Visual promptings, for me anyway, really help me feel inspired. Maps is another good one. I recycled my old desk, covering the top of it with old maps from various locations around the world. I love looking at it, and when I get stuck for names, I often find myself running over it in search for inspiration.
There are many ways to find inspiration in every day life and I am always looking for new idea’s to inspire at home. Do you have any idea’s that have helped you ? Please feel free to add them to my list….