Writers get inspiration from so many things. For me, and I’d say for most writers, probably the most important inspiration comes from personal experience. Even someone writing fiction will draw on personal experiences, either with the creation of their characters, or with some of the incidents in the story.
For instance, I’m finishing off a book about a football playing alien! I’m not, to my knowledge, an alien, but I think I have a good knowledge of football, so I’ve used that to give the story an element of realism. The inspiration for the character came when I was thinking of football as the subject for a short novel, but there’s been so many books written about football that I wanted to incorporate something very different. A bit of success also guides writers in a particular direction, and as a recent (factual) book of mine about football had been quite successful I thought I’d try and write another, albeit with very different subject matter.
I completed writing a book about a deeply affecting personal experience a few months ago, and my inspiration to write that was loss, and a determination to keep the memory alive of someone very dear to me.
Inspiration will just prod a writer in a certain direction and it’s really up to them whether they want to go there. Writers should always be in love with writing. Waiting for inspiration to write a bestseller may never happen, and though there should be a desire to be successful, it’s always hard to judge what will be successful and what won’t. A writer should use any inspiration as they see fit. It’s not something that can be forced, though it can be influenced. A powerful news story can inspire a writer, and make them reflect on, say, the horror of war. This example can also inspire a writer to think about how someone copes with war, and consequently give them a germ of an idea for a character.
I would have been about 9 or 10 when I first knew that I wanted to write. Influenced by ‘The Wind In The Willows’, I came up with a character called Enoch Toad. I remember writing the story on the back of envelopes, and the story seemed to amuse my Mother in particular. Sadly, or luckily, the story got lost over the years. I loved writing then, and it’s continued all through my life, whether reviewing books, films and music, writing fiction, editorial pieces, mini biographies, or poetry I’ll write about whatever takes my fancy. I can’t write about anything if I’m not motivated, and that should be true of all writers.
If a writer struggles to find inspiration, they’re probably trying too hard. It can be similar to writer’s block. Stepping back from writing for a while can actually turn out to be beneficial to a writer, as it’ll relax the mind and allow for inspiration to come naturally.
Paul Rance co-founded Peace & Freedom Press in 1985, and launched the booksmusicfilmstv.com website in 2005. He is a member of The Peace & Freedom Band, who were one of the first British rock groups to release music in the MP3 format. Born in Luton, Bedfordshire in 1959, Paul now lives in the village of Whaplode Drove in Lincolnshire.
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