Inspiration and writing

I was writing a short story yesterday – well trying to write one actually – and it was like wading through treacle. There was nothing actually wrong with it, I mean the words were OK, but I was not enjoying it at all. I got to 800 words and realised I didn’t know how to end it, and that’s when I realised that actually there was no plot – this has happened to me a few times lately.  OK, so plot isn’t a major problem, I can quite often engineer one and insert earlier signposts into the story. But yesterday this didn’t work either. I just couldn’t understand why I was having this problem.

And then it hit me in a flash (sorry for cliche) what the answer actually was   I was not inspired. I was not inspired because I didn’t feel anything. I had no emotion on which to hang the story.

I don’t know about you, but I always have to be emotionally engaged to write a decent short story. Or to write a decent anything come to that. As soon as I realised this, I abandoned the story I was writing and went back to one I was emotionally engaged with, but that I hadn’t finished. Oh the difference was amazing.

And yes, I’ve just finished it.  And yes I’ll go back to the other one some time, but not before I find a way of becoming emotionally engaged with it.

So, how do you find inspiration and hence emotional engagement with your work. Here are three of the ways I do it:

Music – borrow emotion from music – put on a tune you really connect with, feel the emotion and transfer it to the page.

Other writers – last night I went back to my writing class after the Christmas break. Listening to other writers and reading my work to other writers is amazingly inspiring and very motivating. If you don’t go to a class, then maybe you could do a story swap online with another writer, or hold a manuscript evening at your house where everyone brings something to read.

Read – reading something very, very good also works for me. I’m the type of reader who gets motivated by other writers’ brilliance.  Every time I read a brilliant short story I think, one day, I’ll be able to write something as good as that.

How do you get inspired? I’d love to know.





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13 Responses to Inspiration and writing

  1. Penny says:

    Good post! And hmm, yes, well, I’d say… just force me to take weeks off for charging about the holiday motorways in an effort to see all branches of the family, and what do you know? I can’t wait to get back to the desk. Never mind Inspiration, it’s just nice to sit and THINK :-))

  2. Della Galton says:

    Good point, well made, Penny 🙂

  3. A short story is not “ready” until you are positively itching to write it, having worked it all out in your head. I never have a problem with writing one—-but I do have a problem with getting into contact with short story markets online to sell my compilations. I am a twist in the tale specialist, by the way, and by all accounts these should be quite popular. Any advice gratefully received!

    • Della Galton says:

      Hi John,
      Yes I agree with you. Itching to write something does work for me – but I guess that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like it to – as I write quite a bit. Also, I’m not brilliant at working things out in my head – as even when I try that, I still find my characters and plot wander off and don’t co-operate. Yes twists sell well, but you say compilations, which I’d think are much harder. Is there a market for compilations even? You could always put them directly online yourself, formatted for Kindle or Smashwords?

  4. Gail Crane says:

    How re-assuring to hear that you have this problem, Della. I’m stuck part way through a story at the moment. I have the emotion – what I don’t have is the plot. Thanks for opening my eyes.

  5. Hi Della, I have just realised my protagonist cannot do what I want her to do. The job is too much for an eighteen year old to take on (smuggling in the 18thcentury ) although she could be on the fringes.
    Research… what research? It is good I am only just starting my first novel!

  6. Della Galton says:

    Well, at least you realised it before you had written it – lots of novels get written that turn out to be unbelievable because writers don’t realise at all (Like some of my early ones 🙂 )

  7. Wendy Clarke says:

    I have stories that I love, with characters I love and who I get carried along by and then I have the stories that are like pulling teeth – I hate these ones but always struggle on until a solution suggests itself (usually while walking my dog). It’s interesting to note that I have had sales with the difficult ones as well as with with the ones I connect with. I agree with Penny that a complete break away from all stories is often a good thing.

    • Della Galton says:

      Hi Wendy, interesting what you said about selling the tricky ones as well as the easy to write ones. That’s my experience too. And also getting a solution while walking the dogs – that happens a lot too. Do you live anywhere near Dorset? We could go for a story solving dog walk 🙂

      • Wendy Clarke says:

        ‘Fraid not. I live in lovely West Sussex but have had many happy holidays in Dorset. If you knew Bonnie (her antics are duly noted on my blog), you might not want to walk with her!

  8. Susan Jones says:

    Hi Della, I thought your wrote with your eyes closed. I’m still waiting to sell my first womag story, this is the year, I’ve decided. Positive thinking works for me, and imagining the place first then the people. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong:)))) Ooops, positive thinking. I’ve got your toolbox book, so working through that. Also the selling short stories one as well.

  9. Della Galton says:

    Hi Susan,
    I wish I could write with my eyes closed – or even easily would do. It’s not easy that often. I’m sure it used to be easier 🙁 Anyway, keep going, you can do it. And thank you for getting my books. I hope they help. xx

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