Where do you get your Writing Inspiration?

You can be the best writer on the face of the planet, but if you don’t have anything to write about you’re screwed.
Lets face it, a writers least favourite past time is having a face off with a blinking cursor, but often that’s exactly what we find ourselves doing. (Wait what…? Did I just call myself a writer? I guess I kind of did.. :S Hmm..lets go with extreme amateur writer, that seems a little more accurate.)
There is nothing I find more frustrating than sitting readily at a computer full of proactive excitement ready to write the best prose in history and then stopping short, because hey there’s just one problem. I have no story.

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Perhaps I should backtrack a little. You see, what prompted this spur of the moment post is my Creative Writing class. For my first semester I had to write a 2,000 word short story. I was stuck. Desperately searching in to the depths of my brain I wondered where all my childhood imagination had run off to. I used to have endless ideas zooming around up there but after years and years of not writing anything fiction at all, I felt pretty rusty. In the end I kind of cheated by adapting a vague novel idea I’d had for some time and reshaping it into something much shorter. Hmm.

Here entereth semester two, and guess what? I have to write another short story! 2,500 words this time. *curses and flying pigs*
I have to say in this case I don’t think my only problem is imagination. It’s the constriction. I hate being set word limits and it immediately makes me feel boxed in. I also pretty much have zero experience with short stories, I’m strictly a novel kinda gal! Ever heard you are what you read? I guess that’s why I’m having such a hard time with this…
I’ve always been a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote –

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”

Maybe that’s why I’m having so much trouble. For university I’m not writing because I’m inspired, I’m writing because I am required to. Mind you, before university I wasn’t writing anything fiction altogether, so at least it’s a step up!

I have often heard it said that if you don’t have endless stories buzzing around in your head then you are not a writer. I’m not sure I believe this. Of course it’s true to some extent, you do need an idea but I just disagree with the part that they are easy to come by.

So what I would like to ask you fellow avid readers and writers is when you want to write a story where do you get your ideas from? Do they instantly just appear like when my roommate was walking back to our halls and pizza mysteriously fell out of a tree? Or do you have to really think about them? And if you are stuck in the mud, what’s your equivalent of a hand wipe? (I’m in such a random mood) Do you use charts, spider diagrams, research or long walks on the beach?

I’m really interested to hear your answers! 🙂

P.S. If anyone knows how I can get hold of some famous free short stories online for research, let me know! 🙂

Image Sources:
My own please do not reuse.

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44 thoughts on “Where do you get your Writing Inspiration?

  1. What a timely question! I’ve barely been able to write a blog post lately, let alone any fiction.

    Try looking at an everyday object and just asking “Why”.
    Why is that spoon sitting there? Who left it there? Were they in a rush? Was it a moment of frustration or sadness?
    Maybe the spoon is an alien.

    At some point, you’ll come up with an object/question/answer combo that amuses the hell out of you, and go from there…

    • Haha ooooh I’ve always wanted to be timely. 😛 At least it’s something we don’t have to go through alone, it’s a problem a lot of people seem to have. Luckily as mine is a book blog I can always fall back on writing reviews and I don’t have to come up with a topic everyday!

      Hmmm… that’s an interesting exercise, I might have to try that. Haha yeah, the spoon is totally an alien, I’m going with that one! This could come in handy, thanks 😀 and good luck with your blog posts! I’m sure something will come to you soon.

  2. You know I write stuff down. Mostly the stuff I think of is things that I kinda want to happen to me. And sometimes dreams that I have.
    Haven’t really written lately but I have a couple of things on the go on my iPad that I think you’ve read. Either that or adapting something that is happening either to me or to someone else. Cos one of the things I’ve written is kinda based around stuff that happened to someone but it’s a little different. But all of what I write I get inspiration for the characters and whatnot from the people around me.
    Hope it’s all going well 🙂
    And good luck with this next short story 🙂 Why not think about your Egypt based book that you started when you were younger unless that’s the one that you used in the first term
    xx

    • Haha you’re obviously born to be a young adult/romance writer it would seem. 😛 See I’m not sure I can rely on that because I tend not to look too far into the future in terms of aspirations and situations etc, I’m not really sure why. I definitely agree that dreams make good stories though! But I haven’t had a usable one in quite some time I’m afraid..
      Ohh really? That’s cool, who’s it based around? Or am I not allowed to ask? 😉 I definitely draw on the people around me to create my characters sometimes. Although I tend to find that my lead protagonist always ends up pretty similar. 😛

      Thanks. Ohh wow, you remember that! Haha I think that story is destined to remain uncompleted, and there’s no way that I could turn it into a short story, there would be too much to do in too little time. It’s a good idea though! Thanks, I need all the help that I can get. Nahh I used a different idea for the first short story. 🙂 x

      • I’m not so sure about that :L
        It’s not looking into the future it’s just having that moment with someone or something good happening and me just over thinking and over hoping with everything.
        What about writing about the other evening you had when you text me, you had had a really good evening and you’d just be telling them what happened.
        Haha, yeah, I don’t think I have either.
        Amy and everything that happened with her. It’s not up to date but I started it based around what was going on with her but changed it slightly as the main characters dad hits her and Amy’s dad never did that…
        Haha, yeah I think the main character always ends up being me. Well at least it’s easier to write it as if it’s happening to me rather than anyone else…
        haha, yeah! Eventually. One day you’ll finish it and I’ll help you! 🙂 Fair enough.
        Haha, what was the story? xx

      • Hmm I see what you mean, fair enough.
        Yeah maybe….I don’t think it would work for a short story, but maybe for future reference if I need it. I don’t know…I kind of feel like writing a romance or something seems like it’s a little too surface value for 70% of my grade if you see what I mean? I feel like it needs to be a little more…exciting or have slightly more depth to it. I don’t know….I don’t even know how I’m doing because I haven’t got the grade back for the first short story I did yet either!
        Ohh right I see, that’s interesting. Does she know that you wrote about it? It would make an interesting story anyway I think! 🙂
        Ha ha maybe, it would take a whole lot of research about Egypt to complete it though lol, maybe it can be an ongoing project, although I’m slightly more focused on a different novel idea at the moment, if I ever get the time to write it! I might try in the summer, because there’s no way I would have time while I’m at uni.
        I can send my first semester short story to you if you want? I’d be interested to see what you think anyway. I just hope you don’t spot a gazillion typos or errors, lol.

        By the way, I’m close to finishing I Heart Hollywood, I don’t like it as much as the first one but it’s still really good and so easy and entertaining to read! 🙂

      • Fair enough.
        Yeah, if it’s 70% of your grade then that’s understandable.
        Ahhh, how frustrating.
        I was going to try and I find you this Horowitz competion I entered in like year 9 or something. They basically gave you the very beginning of the story and you had to finish it.
        Yeah, she does. I showed it to her. Not sure how much she’s seen or if I’ve added to it since she read it but she knows about it. If she hasn’t forgotten that I’ve written it that is. :L
        Yeah, well it’s something we can aim for 🙂
        What’s your other novel idea?
        oooo, yes please! Have spent my day getting my book up to date rather than doing uni work, although I haven’t really got much at the moment, so you can read the full story when I next see you if you wish 🙂
        Haha, I’ll try not to. But can change them if you want me to.
        Fair enough. I don’t think Hollywood is that interesting compared to the others. I think I definitely liked Paris though. Vegas I think is a little like Hollywood. Not sure what order they are in so you could have two slightly boring ones and then a good one.
        Can send you some of my short ramblings if you want. Will need to check them and all that first but can do if you wish. They’re nothing special or good or interesting, just romance really. Just my ideas from last year. Haven’t written anything this year yet. As in academic year. :L

      • I’d rather not say anything too specific on here just because I don’t want anyone to pick it! But basically a teenage girl who starts to have visions and has to go on the run because there are two feuding cult type things that want to use her power, one for good the other for evil sort of thing. It’s basically either going to turn out to be urban fantasy or paranormal romance, not too sure how it will turn out to be yet. 😛 It’s a story that will also require some research so I don’t know that many specifics yet.

        I’ve sent you the email so hopefully you should get it! Let me know if you don’t. 🙂

        Haha that’s cool, it’s good to do it when you’re inspired. Work can wait one day right, lol.

        Ahh right ok, thanks for the heads up, I’m definitely still interested in reading the rest of the series, although I’m going to read another book at least in between this I heart one and the next one. I don’t like reading a series all in one go, it’s a weird thing I have. 😛

      • That’s fair enough.
        Well when you have stuff written down then feel free to send it to me and I’ll check your spelling and english :L And the story. Haha.
        I wouldn’t worry about the spelling and that lot cos I make a lot of mistakes when I’m writing as well. I just go back through it another time and sort it all out 🙂
        Yeah, got it 🙂
        Haha, yeah well I’ve ended up not doing much work today either. But oh well. I haven’t got anything to do at the moment. Just work that I could start to take the pressure off when it gets to the summer.
        That’s ok 🙂 Yeah, I know what you mean. I do that some times as well 🙂

  3. I’m not published for fiction yet, so you have to take this with that in mind, but honestly- just about anything can give me an idea. Usually they involve what-ifs that stem from very mundane situations, where I wonder what would happen if something extraordinary occurred. Other times I just have something come up. Or I want to subvert a trope I find irritating, or take concepts that have been explicitly applied to certain kinds of things and throw them up on something else. Like a story I wrote specifically in response to the concept of ‘teenage girl finding she is of mysterious otherworldly heritage’- I basically took that idea and centered it around an old man. Who’s not all that bothered by it. That’s where a lot of my writing comes from- for the rest I just try and force myself to try new things with old concepts. There’s nothing new out there as far as stories go, but there’s always a new way to tell stories that can shed new light on the people and concepts involved.

    • Haha not yet, but I have high hopes for you! 😛
      I know it’s a bit of a random question, after all I don’t really know where my previous story ideas have come from either, they seemed to just be there one day, when they weren’t previously, lol.
      The subverting a trope is an interesting idea though, I’d never really thought of that before. It actually sounds like a really awesome idea for a story, lol! An old man instead of a teenage girl ha, I’d read it.

      What I also find really interesting is that fantasy is my favourite genre, yet I never really write in it, not high fantasy anyway. Whatever I write always tends to end up being young adult, either something that would be classed as contemporary or paranormal romance/urban fantasy. That’s something I find slightly strange. I guess I just haven’t come up with a really good fantasy story worth writing yet, and all the world building seems so intimidating!

      That’s true, there’s nothing new out there, and it’s ok as long as I manage to avoid the cliche. 🙂

    • “Or I want to subvert a trope I find irritating”
      That’s something that really works for me.

      Recently a group I’m in set a challenge of writing a story about a set picture, and one option was to make it 100 words – which sounds absurdly short, but that made it a delicious challenge: how to say something meaningful is so few words.

      Writing a novel, for me, requires one or more ideas that really burn and make me obsess for months / years over the writing. Short stories, on the other hand, just need any idea, whether silly, tongue-in-cheek, deadly serious. I’ve been doing a series recently in which a friend is talking to me about her latest adventure – and the challenge there is to think about how people actually talk about the strange things that happen to them. After all, when was the last time you had a 10,000+ word conversation with someone?

      • Hi Frank! I’m glad to hear that this idea works for you as well, maybe that means that it will work for me too! I must admit, it is not something I have ever considered doing before (apart from the obvious of hating weak protagonists and therefore always making mine competent.)

        Oooh that’s a really good idea! I have used pictures in the past to spark my imagination or when I am having trouble describing something I look for something I can use, but I haven’t tried to come up with a whole story around one. Sounds like a fun challenge. 🙂

        Ahh that makes sense, that’s usually how it works for me too, except I never really get that nagging for short stories, it’s just not a mindset my brain seems to consider. Good point that it doesn’t have to be a serious story, I hadn’t thought of that.
        Whoa, that sounds impressive, good luck!

  4. I don’t write either, but I have a lot of partial stories that flit around my brain – usually while i am out hiking, away from people, noise etc and my brain just goes wild. When I was in creative writing at uni though, I wrote whatever, stories from childhood (real ones but I embellished) and I started one which just went wherever my fingers took it. But lately I want to write something just because and I was going to try a fairy tale retelling. Why not? I would know what the story is, less pressure, and just take it wherever it felt like going. 🙂

    • Hmm, to be honest, I started off when I was younger as a lot more of a writer, I used to write all the time. Then when I reached secondary school I became strictly a reader, and I am only just thinking about trying to write again. It’s a pretty damn daunting prospect to be honest, and I am sooo out of practice. :S Before the blog the only thing I was writing was essays!
      Ahhh hiking sounds like a great way to come up with a fantasy story. 🙂 All that inspiring landscape! Sometimes I do find my creativity is a bit squashed sitting in a uni room. 😛
      You did creative writing too? Ohh you definitely should, sometimes retelling’s are the best kind. 🙂

  5. I guess stories just pop into my head. My mother is always asking where I get my ideas from, but I think they just drop out of the universal ether. Sometimes I dream entire stories (which is good, because I don’t have to think much!) Other times I find myself in situations where I think ‘what if’ (like the time I was sitting at the traffic lights and a police car stopped with a guy in the back who put his fingers through the bars and started ‘signing’ to me – I don’t understand sign-language, but I thought ‘what if he escapes and jumps in my car?’ and an entire story started from that one incident!).

    The best free short stories on line can be found by googling writing award or competition sites because they sometimes have the previous winner’s stories up there 🙂

    • Haha lucky you! To be honest, I think that’s the way it’s happened to me in the past, it’s just now that I am having to come up with them on demand I am actively searching for what would normally come naturally. That might in fact, be half the problem. 😛
      Ahh I love it when you have a really fantastic dream, I think they often make the best stories! I had one in fact that I just had to write down on my blog here: https://beckysblogs.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/on-dreaming-about-books/ because it was so awesome! I don’t seem to be having them often these days though *sad face*.
      Ooooh that sounds like it would make an interesting story! I know a lot of writers take inspiration from the world around them, but quite often I find interesting like that ever seems to happen to me, lol! Maybe I need to go sit myself in some random places that I wouldn’t normally visit. 🙂

      Oooh cool, thanks for the tip!

  6. Most of the time, my ideas just pop into my head when I’m not even thinking about it. I can be sweating in agony down the gym, and a tiny kernel of an idea will just appear. Other times, I’ll see the front of a magazine, see something innocuous in Sainsburys, someone makes a joke on an Internet forum… some of these sparks are bigger than others, but for the most part I don’t actually go looking for them.

    I guess it’s like trying to figure out a tricky crossword clue. You can be stumped for hours, yet the answer suddenly comes to you when you’re mowing the lawn the next day.

    This is a very recent thing though, I never had any ambition to be a writer until a couple of years ago.

    • Actually, I forgot to say a couple of other things: I too struggle when restrictions are set, but with short stories it’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to have a proper ending, nor a complex plot. You could start it off with someone in a prison of some kind, with him wondering what is going to happen to him. Throw in a couple of hints of some kind of dystopian world, and then it ends when a guard unlocks the door.

      Or, choose a time period in history that interests you. The main events are already decided, so you could go with Joan of Arc being burnt at the stake and it ends with the flames licking up around her feet.

      You may find it useful to try and rewrite an existing short story, or even just a chapter. It’s what I did with articles from The Onion before I got started on my blog.

      You liked The Hunger Games, right? Maybe write what you think Effie was doing during the third book, or even Prim. It’s venturing into fan fiction, but it’s a good way to get started and you can change the names of the characters afterwards.

      • Good points Michael, that a short story doesn’t have to be complex. Keep it simple with short stories – one or two characters, a simple situation. Here’s one of my favourites SF stories from Frederic Brown: “Earth was dead after the last atomic war. Nothing grew, nothing lived. The last man sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…” Perfect. Builds a world, tells you who the main character is, leaves you wanting more. Four sentences.

      • Hmmm thanks Michel, you’ve brought up a lot of great advice here! 🙂 I guess my worry with short stories is often that it will read more like a chapter out of a longer novel than a complete story in itself. I guess that’s where the proper ending worry comes up, wit my last story I left it kind of open ended and I worried as to whether that was a good thing or not! It’s funny that you mention a prisoner actually! I actually thought up an idea related to that kind of thing a few days back, about a person imprisoned by possibly the government or something because they have a destructive supernatural power. 😛 In fact, I think it’s the one I will end up using.

        Hmm if only, I only have one current existing short story and I actually published it a while back on my blog if you remember? I wrote it when I was seven. 😛 Yeah, I don’t really tend to write short stories!

        Yuss I did indeedy. That’s true, thanks for all the great tips Michael! This has really got me thinking. 😀

    • Ahh, alright for some eh? I wish ideas just came to me like that, they used to a lot, but now it’s somewhat more rare. I think the biggest problem is definitely that I am looking for them, and that is not something I would normally do. I guess my ideas do generally come out of random everyday things that spark my imagination, but I’ve never really had an enforced time limit and word count before. 😛

      Haha that’s a really good analogy (think that’s the right word) hopefully this crossword will work itself out soon!

      Really? That’s interesting, do you know if there was anything specific that sparked it off? (Apart from sending emails during office hours) 🙂

  7. Oooo, Becky, this is a big one! You’ve covered so many things in your post it’s hard to know where to start!

    Writing to a set limit is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s also a *really* good thing to learn. Writing competitions and journalists won’t be pleased if you give them a 2100 word story when they want a 2000. 🙂 Making every word count is the trick, and it’s quite a trick to master. Try a haiku if you want to put yourself through a trial: a Japanese poem of 7 syllables / 5 syllables / 7 syllables (doesn’t have to rhyme though, luckily enough).

    Where do I get my ideas? Like Michael, they usually pop into my head. Doesn’t help much, does it?

    Some of them bounce around in my head for years before they hit something else and start some fusion. Some of them reach critical mass and turn into stories or novels, and some of them fizzle. For an example, I was researching Auschwitz, when I came across the suitcase-belongings storage area (The Germans called it “Kanada”). I wondered if someone could survive in there, since the place was immense and lots of places to hide. Just an idea, floating. Then I read something – about three years later! – where the main character was a small child, and I thought “…maybe if they were really small…”. Critical mass, and a short story was created.

    I bought a book “1001 writing prompts” which has some great ideas and I’ve written a few stories from that. I subscribe to photo current-affairs magazines online (The Atlantic Monthly In Focus is a good one – take a picture from there and write a story from it), also have a monthly subscription to BBC science magazine “Focus” which is where I got the idea for “Book Five” from – cities at sea. One I read there this month was, “Why isn’t snow transparent if rain is?”
    I’m part of a writing group that meet once a month. We set each other “homework” and see what we come up with. And of course, reading. I managed to work a short story from Suzanne Collins quote, “Some walks you have to take alone” for instance.

    Observation as well: I was in McDonalds one Friday night, when I saw a woman sitting alone at a table. Nothing unusual, until I noticed she was wearing a wedding ring. Where were her family? Why was she alone in a McDonalds on a Friday night? Ask yourself questions about the people you see around you and try and come up with answers.

    So it isn’t always passive process (for me) of “having an idea”. There’s a lot of input going in, and only a little output is the result, but a lot goes in and flies around before it does come out.

    When I’m working on a novel, I have a work-in-progress board (There’s a blog post about it here: http://tinyurl.com/ahzvl73) which I refer back to.

    Hope that’s helped!

    • Haha it is indeed! I seemed to bring up a lot of issues that were bugging me in a very short space of time. They all came pouring out! 😛

      Haha you’re telling me! But you’re right, it is still a skill I need to develop even if I don’t like it. I always get about a third of the way through and suddenly think I won’t have enough material, and so I double guess myself and then have TOO much material at the end. Agh, what’s a girl to do? Your completely right about making every word count, and it’s a good skill to develop onto full length novels in order to avoid filler!

      Nope, doesn’t really help! Hmmm, that’s a pretty cool idea for a story. I get what you mean about some ideas bouncing and others fizzling. Unfortunately all too many of mine end up fizzling because I don’t seize the idea when it first comes to me, or the idea won’t quite work out in practice. I think my main problem is just that I am so out of practice! Not to mention my main subject Psychology is a science and very strict on facts, so sometimes it is very difficult to bounce between the two.

      Ooooh that sounds like an interesting book, I might have to look into that. I must admit sometimes I search random images on google to kick-start my brain thinking and that seems to work quite well. I did consider doing a monthly piece of fiction writing on my blog just to get some practice in, but at the end of the day, I just don’t have the time. :/
      The writing group is a cool idea too! I think there might be one here and the uni..

      Hmmm are you telling me I need to get out more? 😛 I do actually, the uni campus is great but it’s not the best place to get inspiration, I’m thinking just sitting at one of the busy London train stations would be awesome for some writing inspiration. All that people watching!

      Thanks Tony, it’s good to know that you have to work to shape your ideas even after the initial spark on an idea. It gives me a little more hope. 😀 Thanks for the really detailed comment, I’m off to check out your board.

  8. This is a good post! I’m glad to see you have been writing, even if it is for a class. I’ve thought of some activities that have inspired me:
    1. Research – If your story involves a topic that can be researched, it can help to find more details. I remember I had a science fiction idea and I had an astronomy class around the same time. When I learned new concepts about the universe, I was very inspired and I expanded the idea by trying to fit real science into it. I had a similar experience when I was working on my novel (although I suppose it’s still in progress). My characters travel through a lot of wilderness, and seeing a real forest helped me realize that the forest I had imagined was pretty generic (just ground and trees, sometimes), so I tried to make certain locations unique. Anyway, learning the facts behind an idea can sometimes lead you to interesting details you might not have used otherwise.
    2. Your Real-Life Experiences – I don’t actually use these a lot, because I find it difficult to translate real events into fiction. However, sometimes small things, like a feeling, can inspire you to write a story. Imagine an emotion you have experienced: how would you describe that on paper? What kind of story would allow you to share that feeling with readers?
    3. Reading – I know you don’t have a problem with this! The only way writers learn how to write effectively is by reading the works of others. Books give you a sense of structure, a richer vocabulary, and instructions about how to tell a story. If you’re reading a good book/story, think “What if I were to write a similar one? What would the Becky version of this story be about?” (I’m not suggesting you steal ideas, but figure out how to use a genre in your own way). If you’re reading a lame book, that can also be helpful because (a) it gives you confidence that you could write better, (b) it can tell you what you shouldn’t do when writing, and (c) you can think “How would I do this differently?” which could lead to interesting story ideas.
    4. Writing – This might seem backwards, but honestly, some of my best ideas occur when I’m writing. I will be writing a scene and then realize that I don’t know how to connect two ideas, or I need to give a reason for a character to act a certain way (or, because the character wouldn’t act that way, I need a new path for them). I might be stuck temporarily, but I work on different ideas that could progress the story and usually this not only affects the one scene, but the entire work. Often, a solution for one problem can lead to new ideas for the story. Also, and this is less about inspiration, but writing in general can give you confidence. The more you write, the better writer you become and the less pressure you put on a specific sentence (or story in this case).
    5. Title – This also seems backwards, but sometimes I think of a really good title, and then I think “What kind of story would have that title?” and that inspires me.

    I’m kind of one of those people who is constantly thinking of ideas, but my main problem is finding the right ideas for each story and knowing which idea to pursue next. I also have the same problem as you about limiting myself to one short story. I like the big narratives with exciting conclusions and characters who develop over time, so usually an idea will become a novel before I have a chance to stop it, lol. I could turn a novel idea into a short story, but how much is lost? Would I really enjoy having ten pages of a story when it could be 200? One idea I have heard for this problem is to write a story that takes place in the same universe as one of your novel ideas. You could take a smaller character from one of your bigger ideas and give them a little adventure that wouldn’t fit into the bigger story.

    I don’t know what to say about being required to write for a class. When I took a writing class, I did feel forced to write sometimes, but it also gave me an excuse to write as well. Pretend your a professional writer with a deadline, and luckily you can write about anything you want 🙂 As for the 2,500 word limit, I would ask your teacher how strict he or she is about the limit. Many teachers won’t mind if it’s a little longer.

    Gutenberg.org is a good site for older short stories and novels (they have two F. Scott Fitzgerald story collections, among many others). However, they have very few works in the past century, so you wouldn’t want to read those alone. If there’s a certain author/style you’re looking for (I don’t know what you writing is like, so I don’t know which authors would be similar), then maybe I could help you find sites with those stories.

    Wow, this is a long comment! I probably could have written my own blog post about where I find inspiration, lol.

    • Thank you. 🙂 It was a pretty random spur of the moment thing when I was thinking about how I was going to come up with a short story idea. I’m excited to be writing again!

      Research, that’s a good point, there’s always the potential to find some interesting new mythologies or an interesting fact to uncover. I will definitely use this idea because I need to do a little research on fire. I have now come up with a vague idea but I’m not too sure where it’s going to go!
      I’m similar to you, I don’t often draw from life experiences and observations all that much, perhaps I should. When writing about a characters emotions I tend to draw on my own or the reactions of people I know.
      Haha nope, I definitely don’t have a problem with reading! You’re right, bad books are actually really useful! Like that Devoted one I read recently (although I have no intention writing my own book about the elixir of life, but still) It’s funny you mention that, I don’t think of myself as having a particularly good vocabulary but it’s interesting how sometimes as I write words I don’t even realize I know come out!
      That’s a very true point about writing as well, I think that is a big part of the issue, I need to write a lot more fiction in general to get used to it and have a little more practice, then when it comes to needing to write a short story it won’t seem like such a difficult task! I know a lot of people like to plan out exactly how there story is going to go, but I often find that difficult, and maybe that is a good way of getting round it. 🙂
      Hmm, title, that’s an interesting one! But I like the way you think. I’m thinking of trying to randomly flick through the dictionary and picking out a selection of words to try and fit in, I thought that could be quite a good idea too.

      Haha that is EXACTLY what I’m like! I always come up with novel ideas rather than short story ideas, it’s difficult trying to think of a narrative that short. You see I don’t often get many ideas, as my main topic at uni is a science, I quite often have my logic hat on and I find it quite hard to switch between the two. Over the past few years there has really been a chance for me to be creative, but after a first semester in writing, it’s making me feel really enthusiastic about pursuing it in some way in the future. Hmm taking a side character from a novel idea….that’s quite a good idea, thanks! 🙂

      The word limit is pretty strict, but you can go over or under by 10%, knowing me I will go over, lol. Thanks for the website link, I will check it out! Emmm my writing tends to lean towards young adult urban fantasy and sometimes more contemporary. Any ideas?

      Haha, you probably could have, but I’m really glad you replied with so much useful information! 😀

  9. … a pizza fell on your friend? That’s a story you definitely have to share! Actually, you could write a story about that from the perspective of the pizza itself. How did it end up there, what did your friend do with it… sentient inanimate objects are fun. 😉

    Personally – and don’t hate me for this! – I’m the type of person who has ideas buzzing around my head all the time. I never have trouble coming up with a story idea on a whim. Though I do understand what you mean about constraints; I hate definite word counts with the passion of a hundred suns. My fingers tend to fly over the keyboard and before I know it I’ll have churned out more than is required. Commence operation delete words. =[

    • Haha a slice of pizza. I know right!? So weird. Ha true, although that seems a bit too out of the box to submit for something worth 70% of my grade, they might not quite get it. But true, it could make a pretty interesting story!

      I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!!!! Lol, kidding. 😛 That’s fair enough, some people just get more ideas than others I guess, I wish I had your mind, it would be useful right about now!
      Ahh yay another word count hater! It sucks doesn’t it? I definitely tend to go over word count rather than under.

  10. I thought about applying for a Creative Writing postgrad course, but I didn’t go for it. That’s cool, that you get to study it at college.
    My problem is I’m bursting with ideas but don’t have the motivation to get them down on paper/the computer screen and follow through to a conclusion.
    If you’re struggling, go listen to inspiring music or read one of your favourite books or watch your most cherished films. You’ll be brimming with inspiration and ideas after.

    • Oooh that’s cool, what did you do for your undergraduate course? It is pretty interesting and I have some charismatic lecturers for it which makes it even better. Although to be fair, none of the things that they have taught us so far have been enlightening, most of it just seems to be common sense really!
      Haha ohh I hate that! Quite often in the past I’ve had a fragment of an idea but I just can’t seem to make it into a full story, and even though I have ideas they rarely make it to paper! 😛
      Thanks for the advice Emma, I’m going to try the listening to music idea. 🙂

  11. I always have stories buzzing round in my head but I’ve got a few suggestions you might like to try. Sit in a cafe and listen to conversations. You will only hear partial ones so try writing the background story of what you heard or tell the story of what happens next. Observe people, who do you think they are, what do you imagine they do, if they did the job you imagine what would happen to them if they woke up one morning and something were to change their life? Listen to stories your mother told you about when she was young. Use it and elaborate. Look at pictures. Tell the story behind it. Listen to songs, elaborate on their messages and invent characters around what the song is about. Imagine you are an eye witness to a major incident, who are you and how would you react, what are rhe consequences of your actions?

    Is any of this helping? I really hope so. Good Luck!!
    Fran
    http://franclark.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Hmm, that is an interesting idea, I always find people watching really fascinating but strangely enough I never tend to listen in on their actual conversations, I more just observe what they are doing. Definitely something that I should try and you never know what I may discover! Imagining what would happen if their life was disrupted is also an interesting idea, I often find that they are the best kinds of stories. I might try listening to songs as well! These are some really good ideas you’ve brought up here, thanks a bunch!

      P.S. Just popped over to your blog as well, good luck with your own writing! 🙂

  12. My favorite thing to do when I’m stuck (which thankfully isn’t very often, but it happens) is to go my local grocery store or just for a walk, and study the older people in my neighbourhood (I’m not young either, by the way). I study their faces, and wonder what their lives were like when they were young. What struggles did they go through? Do they have a secret? Soon, my over active imagination takes hold, and I have almost a whole story attached to that one study.
    If it’s too cold to start the car, like today at freakin’ -30C, I’ll just fool around with poetry or quotes. I hate poetry, but it gets my creative juices flowing and gets me writing anyway. Or I read…reading is a great creative block cure.

    • Haha well I’m glad to hear that it doesn’t happen to you often! Hmm, that’s an interesting idea, you make it sound so easy! It just seems a lot harder these days to get my overactive imagination going. I never used to have a problem but rigorous education has been trying to squish it out of me it seems! I just need a bit of practice to get it back into shape me thinks. 🙂
      Lol, I hate poetry too! Interesting that it makes you feel more creative though, I might have to try that. I definitely read a lot, so I can tick that box!

      By the way, the name on your link isn’t working so I can’t look at your blog, if you have one? I just thought I should let you know. 🙂

  13. (WARNING: Brace yourself, long comment coming up! :D)

    I totally, totally get what you’re saying. Academia can be so stifling which is why I see a Creative Writing course at University as a paradox. So I empathize with you there. Writing should, first and foremost, be an enjoyable pursuit. But when you’re forced to do something, all the fun of it goes out the window.
    I don’t usually have a problem with ideas. They usually do come in leaps and bounds to me. But every writer is different. If this doesn’t happen to you it doesn’t mean you’re less of a writer. If you look at Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell, they only wrote one novel each in their lifetime, yet they’re considered as some of the greatest writers in Literature.

    So don’t despair. The ideas will come to you. However you’ll find that sometimes they come to you in the oddest of moments or when your mind is occupied with something else, like reading a book. Ideas usually come to me while I read, mostly non-fiction but even while I read novels as well. If I read about some mystery that happened a long time ago, the first thought that comes to my head is: what a great story that would make! But of course my thinking doesn’t stop there. My head goes off on some adventure and next thing I know a whole hour has gone and I’m still sitting with the book in my lap, without having made much progress.
    The only advice I can give(and you don’t have to use it, only if it helps) if you’re looking for ideas is read up on real-life stories and events(past or present), even the newspaper. Fact is always stranger than fiction and can be a great way to kick your imagination into gear.
    Hope this helps 🙂 xo

    • Haha funny enough so do I! That’s why I would never take it as my main subject, I just wouldn’t like it, it would probably be more likely to put me off than get me inspired. But I’m only doing it for one year so it should be okay, at least it gets me thinking, and it’s made me realize again that I do want to write more. In fact, that’s the same reason I wouldn’t want to do writing as a job because it would probably make me hate it. :S
      Aghh damn, there seems to be a recurring theme in these comments! It’s a little worrying. :/ Yeah that’s true, there are all these theories out there about how a writer should be, I find it quite annoying because you’re totally right, each person is different! Hmm, I wouldn’t mind only writing one book if I got even half of their popularity, lol, imagine!

      Hmm that is true, I often come up with blog post ideas at the most awkward times when I’m supposed to be doing something else! Perhaps I just need to shift my mindset so that it happens with fiction instead. Ha ha ha! maybe that’s why your always saying you’re such a slow reader! 😉 Because you’ve got the head of a writer.

      Hmm, that’s an interesting idea I never would have thought of that, thanks. 🙂

      Thanks for all the encouragement and ideas Nisha, it makes me feel a little better!

      • Ah so you figured it out as well, a few weeks ago I sat back and kept asking myself: why do I take so long to read a book? The truth is, when I was younger, I was a very quick reader. But then I realised something, I never used to write back then, I read and got immersed in the story but now…oh dear God. My mind goes off on a tangent! And I have a strange confession, after I started writing fiction, about 3 years ago, I stopped reading novels completely for awhile. I started to become over-analytical about everything the writer wrote. I didn’t do it consciously, it just happened naturally. Very difficult to explain but I wasn’t enjoying anything I read(and this had nothing to do with the books themselves).
        Things are different now though, I’m not so over-analytical but my mind does still wander 😉
        I know this might not sound helpful but I feel that maybe the fact that you’re stressing about the lack of ideas is what’s causing that dreaded writers’ block. Relax, take it easy, believe that, not just one, but MANY ideas will come to you and they will.
        Good luck, you can do it! 😀

      • Hehee looks like I did. That’s really interesting! I’ve found I’ve become a lot more critical of books since I’ve been blogging, but I don’t think I’ve ever really done it from a writers angle – not yet anyway. 😛 I think it says quite a lot of positive things about your state of mind though, once you were in the writing zone, you were really in it! I’m a little too good at getting distracted. I’m glad you’ve managed to find the balance now though! 🙂
        I’ve heard of a few writers that also don’t really read when they are writing, especially not the genre that they write in, because they find that they start to imitate the author’s style and they don’t want it to influence their work. I think I might do that a little bit.

        Haha you’re probably right! It’s so funny, I was just taking a midday nap earlier (I seemed to be suffering with a touch of insomnia lately, save me :() and the very small short story idea I had suddenly started to form more and more in my head, so I abandoned the nap and started scribbling ideas which I’ve stuck up with blue-tack on the inside of my cupboard door, like something off CSI, LOOOL. 😛

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