Searching for that right idea? The perfect solution to sourcing inspiration? Book Printing UK are at hand to go in deep about how to channel your inner-ambition, find inspiration, look at creative ways to come up with ideas, and we’ve even thrown in a few motivational quotes to keep you going.
Writing. Without question, the most essential part of a book (that’s why you’re here, right?), but undoubtedly the hardest. From finding inspiration, to keeping motivated, to conquering writer’s block, the barrage of hurdles one must jump through to complete a written project can appear daunting and endless.
With only ourselves to rely on to get our thoughts, ideas and stories out into the world, discovering what makes us tick is incredibly important. We all have to start off somewhere, and explore methods to finally see what works for us as individuals, as writers.
Where to Find Writing Inspiration
Finding light in a dark place is troublesome. Sometimes, we write because we feel we must; there is a void that needs filling. It may normally start off that we have this burning desire, and a story to get out, but after a while, that light may flicker and we become stuck, or the momentum dies. Similarly, if one has been writing for so long (months, years) then seeking new sources to drive you forward, be it for passion, rent or livelihood is a challenge.
”There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” - Maya Angelou, taken fromI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
One way to encourage this kind of writing is to brainstorm. Brainstorming words or even just images related to the story you are wanting to tell can produce some surprising and striking results and is one of the most highly recommended methods for kick-starting the whole creative process.
Similarly, playing word association can be beneficial to your process. Take a theme of your writing, or a keyword, and start writing down all the word words and phrases you can think of that are associated. This can lead you to discover more ideas, or even better the ones you originally had.
It may sound cliché, but source out anything creative: listen to music and listen to the words; watch television and try to discover the emotions they’re trying to tap into; listen to the passages of merit from films; attend theatre and feel enraptured by the performance; what is a piece at an art gallery attempting to do, etch away at your mind or your heart; even attend a wrestling show and feel submerged by the drama.
People watching could end up being your new favourite pastime. Even a common phrase from a person who is not a writer can spark a number of fresh ideas in your head. Take Graham Greene’s advice:“The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You’re there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see - every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties”.
To finalise our basics in this first section, here are two very easy, and obvious, suggestions, but never over look them!
Laugh! A positive mood can promote creativity as it boosts activity in the areas of our brain associated with complex cognition, decision making and emotions. Finally, do not wait for a muse, just get started. Whilst this might seem counter-intuitive to the title of this blog (it is something we go into more depth later), one way to find inspiration is to get stuck in without it. At some point your muse will reappear and that’s when your writing will take off.
Giving Your Mind Permission to Write
Whether you are sending your book off to a publisher or are intending to go the route of self-publishing, the thing that is of the first and foremost importance is the writing itself. The creative - rather than technical - aspect of writing comes from an instinctual, almost primal, part of yourself and that is what needs to be tapped into in order to create a work that will is much more likely to be able to touch the heart and soul of the reader.
One suggestion for being able to do this is to sit down and just try to write at least one or two pages with your eyes shut. This is called ‘free writing’. Yes, I know this probably sounds a bit out-there to begin with - and if you're anything like me you'll probably end up writing on your trousers instead of the page - but that doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter if what you've written ends up being legible or not. The technique is apparently just to give your mind permission to write whatever it feels like without the usual barriers clamping down on its creativity. While the writing itself will most probably end up being completely unusable, it may just spark some ideas that will get you where you need to go. Similarly, when you’re stuck for ideas, take a look through your free written pages – you may just find some new inspiration.
There are many ways to light the spark of creativity. Don’t give up after the first few fires fade.
Coming Up with Ideas for What to Write
They say that nothing is scarier to a writer than a blank page, or as G. K. Chesterton once said, “The blank page is God's way of letting us know how hard it is to be God”. Of course, it's not the blank page that is really what horrifies us, it's the blank mind, and the feeling of being sat in front of your computer or your paper without a clue what to write about. For most writers who may have long since mastered the ability of putting words onto the page in an eloquent manner, it is coming up with ideas to write about that is the true challenge, and that's the same for everyone, whether in the self-publishing game or otherwise.
If you're writing an autobiography, of course all you have to do is look at your own life and find something that might be amusing to write about. The material is already there. Fiction however is completely different and can be problematic. What if you're writing something entirely fictional, such as science-fiction or fantasy? The trick here is to look around you, but then look beneath what you are seeing.
That person you pass in the street every day, what if they were a serial killer? What if you got on a train and rather than it take you to your mother-in-laws', it took you into a parallel dimension? The trick is to keep generating these premises, no matter how whimsical, farfetched, or absurd they may seem.
Orson Scott Card famously said “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any”. We mentioned people watching as a source of inspiration already, but go further than just looking at them, create their lives. Play games with those who you are with (be it travelling, or sitting on a bench) where you talk about someone’s life, someone you spot walking past you. Where are they off to? What’s their story? What’s their job? What’s their favourite restaurant? What’s their deep dark secret? This idea can range from being humour to dead serious depending on what you’re after and can be all the fuel you need.
Not all your ideas will work, but one or two might just start you down the road to a great story.
Quotes to Captivate Your Inspiration
If you’re one to seek inspiration in quotes and find solace in passages from wonderful books, or need to k now that what you’re doing is right, then perhaps these quotes that we have scoured the pages of literature may just be your ticket:
”Don’t try” –Charles Bukowski The lasting remarks from the 'poet laureate of American lowlife' that are forever etched on his gravestone. Short, snappy, simple and effective. The meaning is somewhat powerful, and reflects the true beauty of writing. Hank is saying that you shouldn’t force yourself to write, as more than likely, ‘it’ will never come. Your perfectionism can work against you, and can stop you from completing anything, and anything you do write you will not be happy with.
”Start before you’re ready” - Steven Pressfield That said, there’s never a ‘right’ time to start writing. You can’t hold it off and wait until you’re fully prepared. It’s like swimming in that sense, you just have to get into the pool and see what happens. Just start and see where your mind takes you. Never put it off, never say ‘I’ll start writing on Monday’ – start the second you get that desire.
”You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say” - F. Scott Fitzgerald Write with purpose, heart and meaning. The author of The Great Gatsby is trying to convey the idea that writing for the sake of it is a waste of your time – you must always have a reason, and know your story. Knowing what you have to say vanquishes your writer’s block more often than not and fuels your fire.
”Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way” – E. L. Doctorow Jumping off what we just discussed, you need to get started – you need to turn the key and start the engine. So long as you know your story, the finer details will work themselves out as you write; you cannot just prepare and research. Whilst research and preparation is important, you will also notice that if you rely solely on those two aspects, you will never begin to write, for you will never feel ready. Writing is a beautiful journey of discovery – embrace the ride.
”Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere” - Anne Lamott So if you’re ever worried or in doubt, remember these words. Have fun with your writing. After all...
”A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit” - Richard Bach
”The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say” - Anais Nin Written word can evoke such emotion and stir something inside of us we did not expect when opening the cover. Choose your words wisely and create an impact. Be bold, be different.
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass” - Anton Chekhov You need to be original with your words if you ever want to stand out and be known. What’s different about you and how you express yourself and the images you have in your mind? Can the way you write capture hearts and imaginations of others? Take a risk with your descriptions and be daring. With this quote, you’ll always be reminded to never settle for ‘it was night and the moon was full’.
“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block” - John Rogers Put that pen to paper! Much like free writing, the only way to fight fire is with fire. Get writing. You can edit or scrap the bad ideas or parts that you don’t like, but you’re getting the juices flowing, the cogs are turning and you’ll pick up speed and find your voice as you progress. Just remember, you have to start – and you have to start somewhere, it doesn’t matter if it’s bad.