From where for you draw your inspiration as a writer?
I guess there are as many answers to that question as there are writers! It always intrigues me when writers say that they don’t know what to write about. I rarely have that problem. I can see ideas for writing all around: in the every day events of life, in the experiences of life, in the environment, in the fascinating people we come into contact with daily, in the newspapers, in things we read, in films, television programmes and so on and so on. So writers just need to open their eyes to the whole world of ideas for writing out there just waiting for a poem, a story, an article or an essay to be written.
In recent weeks I have written about my impressions of attending this year’s Adelaide Writers’ Week held as a part of the current Festival of Arts. During one of the sessions I couldn’t find a seat in the big marquee, so I sat in the shade of one of the beautiful trees which are a feature of the Women’s Pioneer Memorial Gardens where the sessions were held. It was a lovely day: bright sunshine, not too hot, gentle breeze and wonderful speakers to enlighten and entertain us.
I looked up into the trees above.
I just had to take several photos to share with you here. I will use these photos, and the wonderful setting, as inspiration for some writing. The only problem now is to decide whether I write an article, a short story, a poem – perhaps a beautiful sonnet – or a blog post about those lovely trees, the sunshine filtering softly through the leaves, the birds singing overhead in the branches or some other response.
Be inspired – and use that for good writing.
Last year I bought a copy of the Garry Disher book called Writing Fiction: an introduction to the craft. It was the required text for the fiction writing unit in my Master of Arts course.
As I read the first chapter I underlined the following: ‘…new writers… believe that the best writing grows out of powerful feelings and intense passion.’ (Disher, 2001, p.5) While this can be true I have found that it is not always the case. Sure, intensely experienced life events can be a wonderful source of writing inspiration, but if that is all we had to write about we’d never have much to say. Most of us lead such deadly dull and boring lives that we should restrained from hoisting that on our readers.
Disher goes on to say that ‘even the most mundane incident, can give rise to a story or novel, and the best writing and creative insights often come from writing calmly and with detachment… day after day. Don’t sit and wait. Start writing, and write regularly – for the practice, and to find what it is you want to say.’ This has been another benefit of doing this and other writing units in my course; the regular enforced writing exercises and the requirement to hand up finished works.
While it is writing under intense pressure at times, I believe that it is excellent discipline for the aspiring writer. To succeed, the aspiring writer must become a perspiring writer. Over the last three years I have, in part, developed the skill of writing on demand. This was in relation to my blogging. I set myself the difficult task of writing – on average – three articles of 300 – 400 words each per day. I haven’t succeeded entirely, especially last year while studying, but I came close to it before commencing the course. I have learned to very quickly come up with ideas, plan and then write rapidly. The more I’ve done the less editing and rewriting is required, so my skills are definitely developing.
Later in the chapter he says: ‘It’s pointless to wait for inspiration… Write whether you feel like it or not.’ (Disher, 2001, p. 12-13) He suggests setting definite goals with writing, say a 1000 words per day. When I was blogging solidly over recent years I had goals for each day regarding word count, number of hours of writing, number of articles written. I also had weekly, monthly and annual goals. All that discipline has helped me during my year of study and will be of great help in coming years as a writer – especially if I ever have looming publisher deadlines.
Disher, G, 2001, Writing Fiction: an introduction to the craft. Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest.
I haven’t written about blogging on this blog about writing for some time now. Of necessity my blogging activity has been rather limited over the last 12 months because of my studies. Getting my Master of Arts in Creative Writing has taken precedence over blogging. Despite that, my three blogs continue to tick along quite nicely.
In the previous 2 years I was blogging daily. In fact, I was almost a full time blogger, which kind of hindered my other writing. Writing an average of one article per blog per day over two years has had some interesting flow on effects on my general writing.
- I am now far more disciplined in my writing life, especially in the amount of writing done each day.
- I am far more productive, turning out far more words per day than ever before.
- I can write ‘on demand’ and rarely wait for inspiration. The act of writing generates its own inspiration and I can also write a lot faster with fewer mistakes.
- Searching for ideas for my writing is no longer a problem, because constant blogging generates a momentum of its own, with one article often generating many more.
- My writing skills have vastly improved. One of my lecturers commented many times that she can see that my blog writing has helped my other writing develop too.
- I have gained a great deal of satisfaction from the comments of readers and the interaction between readers.
There is no doubt in my mind that blogging can vastly improve your skills as a writer. I’m not the only one who thinks along these lines. Jenny Cromie has written an excellent article as a guest blogger on ProBlogger. It’s worth reading.