Monday 8 April 2013

Inspiration - The Creative Process

A lot of people have asked me in the past, where do I get my ideas? The answer is simple, they're in my head. That's not the answer they want though. They want to know how the answers got into my head and I'm sometimes at a loss to tell them. I can tell you some of the things that inspired me, but I can't tell you about every little thing that gives me an idea and is brought into my writing bubble.

Take for example, my first ever book - no, not BLACKOUT - the other first book. I was thirteen years old and I had a close friendship group. One morning we were walking to school and we all realised we'd had a similar dream the night before. BAM! A book is born. Now you all know that the book in question didn't actually get finished until I was nineteen. Mostly because although I did finish it at thirteen, so proud of myself and thirty-six pages long - wow, wasn't I just a fantastic author! I realised at nineteen that it sucked. It really did suck, like so sucky that I would be embarrassed if the first version ever made it's way into the light. We all know what happened with that so I won't dwell on it.

Anyway, my other first book - yes, now I am talking about BLACKOUT - the idea for that was actually around for several years before I put pen to paper. I can't remember the exact time frame and conversation, but I basically spoke with my best friend about the possibility of "what if life is a dream we have while we're in a coma and when we die we wake up and get to live our actual life?". I know, deep questions for a fourteen year old. I was a bit macabre in those days. There you go, a new story ready to be banged out on paper. I must have been ready to write it though because I wrote it in only ten days - a feat I have ever been able to replicate since.

The idea for the Dying Thoughts series came to me while in the line at ASDA one day and the others all have a story behind them. Maybe one day I'll write a book about how a writer gets their inspiration. Or a writer who is trying to find inspiration. I'm getting off track here. Anyway, my point is that inspiration and ideas don't always come with a lovely story, sometimes the beginning and plot of a story are something we thought about for a while. Sometimes we just start writing and then a book comes out. However, every writer I know has something that helps them stay inspired. Whether it's a book based on people they know, or a person's profession. I personally don't have people I base my plot lines on, but some of my friends have appeared in the books I've written.

Some writers call them muses, some call them inspiration. I don't really know what I call mine. All I know is that around this time - when I'm close to finishing a book - I start to look around me, start to think about what story I can write next. I don't like to not have at least one book on the go. The good thing is I have an idea for the next Dying Thoughts book, it's just finding the inspiration for the next standalone. I write two books at the same time, which I'll talk about another time. I look at what I've written in the past and try to decide where I want to go next. That's the great thing about books - as a writer and a reader - they take you a million and one places that you may never have been before. They allow you to travel alongside them as they tell you their story. It's intoxicating.

I haven't quite yet decided where I want to go next. I have a couple of ideas and I also know for sure where I'm taking Tara next, but that's a piece for another time. I need to decide where I want to meet my new characters, who I want them to be and whether or not I want them to be a completely different genre than I usually write. Don't get me wrong, I love writing in the crime genre, just as much as I love reading it, but sometimes it's good to get out of your own comfort zone and dip your toe in another pond. Maybe that's what book eleven will be.

Lots of writers stick to what they know, and I do the same for the majority of things. The wonders of the internet, however, allow us to research and find inspiration through doing so. You have to know what you're talking about and you have to be confident enough to write it without worrying that you're just doing an information dump. The ideas come and go, sometimes you'll be happy with what you're doing and then the characters take you some place unfamiliar and you're suddenly using Google to find out what the hell you need to do. That's the beauty of writing, the characters, while still your creations, seem to have a better idea of what needs to happen than you, the writer. I think it's a wonderful profession and love being part of it.

Inspiration is not always something you're looking for. Sometimes it finds you. Sometimes you search and search for it and it's nowhere to be found. Sometimes, the old friend "writer's block" comes along and stomps on your inspiration until it's in a million tiny pieces and then you have to put it back together. The ideas though, they never stop coming. The difference between someone who has ideas and someone who has inspiration is one just ignores them and the other develops them into something. This applies to a lot of creative outlets. Artists, designers, crafts, I could go on. They all start with an idea that they then nurture into a creation for others to enjoy.

Now if you'll excuse me, inspiration is knocking at my door and I have chapters to write!

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