“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize winner for Literature
Our beloved (pardon the pun) Toni Morrison is not the only one to say this. Apparently, C.S. Lewis, told us in his biography, “I wrote the books I should have liked to read if I could have got them. That’s always been my reason for writing. People won’t write the books I want, so I have to do it myself.” Even author J.R.R. Tolkien proclaimed, “If they won’t write the kind of books we want to read, we shall have to write them ourselves”, stating that he was given that very advice from C. S Lewis. We are sensing a pattern here!
These are not only great quotes but great advice to writers. We wanted to reiterate it here to help get your creative juices flowing when you are faced with a blank page and lost for ideas. We are sure there isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t been stuck for what to write. How do you get over this hump? Here are a few tips to help generate ideas.
1. Get inspired by a song - Have you ever wondered about the story behind a song? Dig into the lyrics. Who are the characters? What’s their situation? Write about it. You could simply try to recreate the song in prose to get you started then use your imagination to add your own spin. With a basic structure you can build on it, change or complicate it into something interesting.
2. Are you a people watcher? - Invent a back story for someone you encounter in your daily life. The cheery postman. Is he really so cheery – is he hiding a dark secret? The grumpy bus driver. Why is he in a mood? Is he just desperate to be back home to binge watch his favourite TV drama? The backstory doesn’t have to be your final idea, but it may get you somewhere to it.
3. Have fun with pets! – If your pet were a person, who would they be? We humans have a natural tendency to anthropomorphize animals by assuming they have their own human characteristics. Why not really have fun with this and take it to the extreme? Write about your dog as a CEO of a multi-million pound conglomerate? Where does that lead you?
4. Get personal – Write about a childhood moment. Something that shaped your future in some way. Or, imagine if things had gone differently. Instead of winning that contest, you lost. Don’t be afraid to write about failure. No one is successful all the time. Let your guard down and relay your struggle. Others may find it inspirational. Equally you might find a new way to look at that mitigates your embarrassment. Give yourself some credit for dusting yourself off and carrying on!
5. Use writing prompts - The Internet is full of writing prompts for people who need story inspiration. Some sources are better than others, but if you’re struggling to figure out what to write about, social media is a great place to start. We have come across the team at 64 Million Artists who run free, UK-wide programmes like The January Challenge and The Weekly Challenge to invite people to kickstart their creativity and wellbeing. It is a fantastic programme full of weird and wacky inspiration.
We know we are making this all sound terribly easy and to some extent it is. However, that is not to say that you don’t still need to put some work into it. Some of these may not end up being your ‘final’ story but they may help to get you going. In writing the book you want to read you still need to think about all the elements in the book you want to read. Is it mystery, menace, sci-fi or romance? This list will become your roadmap to writing the book you want. Finally, if you are not an expert in your chosen topic, read widely. The best way to sound like you know what you’re talking about is to read what you’re talking about. Read about your topic to get a handle on context and terminology. Incorporate what you’ve learned to your writing, and you be off to a great start.
Let us know how the dog gets on, MBP