Concocting an Inspiration Buffet

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A topic came up for us last week. We were discussing where our inspiration comes from when we begin a new writing project. Dozens of suggestions clamored to the surface and different ones tugged on each of our sleeves.
Primarily for Andrea, it’s her intuition. She tunes in, and the story calls to her.
For Leslie, it’s more visual. It can be a memory tangent or a photograph as the catalyst. It can be picturing the characters in action or conversation. Any piece of art can get her started.
Other times it’s a combination of those two, with additional spices added.
We stay alert to opportunities around us which leads to asking questions that draw out the story. This is about making a conscious decision to fly manually. We come out of autopilot and listen to the world around/inside of us.
It can be as simple walking down Main Street, seeing an always deserted restaurant full of people and wondering what led to this moment. Questions beget other questions, and soon a plot develops. Will it be a mystery? A comedy, drama, or something supernatural? Only time will tell.
We do know that it’s important to be open to inspiration everywhere we go. It could be our next story.
Where do you get your inspiration?

Whys and What Ifs?

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Questions lead places. They don’t stop like words do at the end of a sentence. They’re an invitation to go somewhere potentially new and bountiful.

 

I use powerful questions in my coaching practice, and I use a different set when I write. I ask myself ‘What if?’ and ‘Why?’ plus the rest of the ‘W & H’ questions to get deeper into plot and character development and motivating goals.

 

Let’s say I want to write a short story featuring a ham sandwich. Before or after doing some preliminary brainstorming, whether listing, mind-mapping, or stacking categories/subsets, I would develop tangents that might come from the food and ask:

 

Why is the sandwich important?

How did it enter the story?

When was it made?

What is its composition?

Who will eat it?

Where are they located: the eater and the food?

 

I might write out a few sets of those like reps at a gym, just for fun. Then I prioritize which questions are most central to the story I feel forming in my brain. After I do that, I begin with, ‘What ifs?’

 

What if it’s poisoned?

What if it was stolen from someone who struggles for food every day?

What if the bread is moldy?

What if it has a smell that brings back an important memory?

What if it’s the last food available?

What if it falls on the floor and/or gets stepped on?

What if there’s a paper inside that contains the password for an important account?

 

I could go on quite a while like this, but when I finish for the time being, again I prioritize them. I see which ones have the most potential and are of the most interest to me.

 

Do you use questions in your writing? Have you found any helpful ways to think about them that give you more mileage? We’d love to hear questions, snippets, topics, anything you’d like to share as an example of your questioning strategy.

A question may be simple, but it’s a powerful tool for life and creativity.

 

The Evocative Kernel of Rice

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I ate some rice tonight. It was long-grained Basmati, flavorful enough to bring back images and memories of a small rural village in the Maharashtra district at sundown.

Chanting can be heard over the hills off to the far left as new constellations (and a few old familiar ones) rise and set where there’s a marble Shiva temple on a distant hill. Small fires cook the evening meal in dots along roads of dust and iron grating.

Prompts are to be found anywhere and everywhere. I found tonight’s in my mouth when I suspected I wasn’t even thinking about writing.

This tells me two things.

  1. I think about writing far more often than I realize.
  2. All is food for the beginning, middle, or end of a piece, no matter how short or how long.

What prompts your writing? Think of a piece you wrote, whether you especially love it – or not, and see whether you can trace it back to the beginning… conception.

We’d love to hear any sparks that started an adventure in your writing.

Procrasti…Nation Inflation

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Some days I’m unable to produce. Some days can easily turn into a week gone by, and then it’s holy crap. How does that happen? Very frustrating; as in I’m sitting here staring at a screen. I’m exhausted… from procrastinating!

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Click on the book image for a procrastination resource, which you might find interesting and/or helpful. Check the different formats, as I believe the Kindle version, is considerably less expensive.

In addition there’s the link below for a procrastination page  that we recommend, with tips and an app to help get unstuck. Even though we haven’t been able to find the app to try it out on our Android devices, we do like the page information:

How We Procrastinate at Unstuck Now

 

That’s where it’s nice to have a good writing partner so we can share our angst and cheer each other on. Well, not that we want to give each other angst, but it’s good to be able to bounce ideas back and forth. We don’t feel so alone. It’s fun to write with each other as we talk on the phone and especially when we’re together.

Time magically opened up, and we managed to get together in the same domicile for three days. It was interesting to see how each day had its own personality.

Day 1: Andrea arrived at Leslie’s. She was tired from how long a drive it was.

Expectation: Zero. She was distracted and passed the exit  for the Turnpike. That led to running through a maze of back roads to get back on the highway.

Outcome: It took longer than expected, by an hour. The original was already a long enough trip for her.

Actuality: We got some things done, by saying, ‘We’re not going to do anything today.’ It happened anyway. Surprise and confetti!

Let’s see: what did we do? We wrote business letters, and then Andrea had a brilliant idea of asking our talented artist of a cousin if she would be willing to do  our book cover for us, even though no one judges a book by its cover anymore. Ha!

We got that letter written, using our Art for Inspiration Pinterest board to communicate ideas of how we envisioned the cover so clearly. Our cousin agreed to work with us. She said it might be fun. Yay. That’s one huge concern lifted.

We also wrote three whole paragraphs of Chapter 14 in just under three hours. Record time, but not the good kind.

Reward:  Movie time! STAT! We amazingly got through two and stayed up way too gloriously late.

Day 2: We wrote all day. Not an easy task for a master ADD’er such as Andrea’ Nevermind, she was completely focused that day! Hooray!

Leslie snapped out of her three-paragraph-only capacity and we took off from the stagnation of yesterday PLUS finished the next two chapters. Some days are not like others. We pinky-swore that we would go over it again in the morning and send it to the editor.

Outcome: First pinky-swear in many a year. Lots of writing done. Happy authors. Time for a snack.

That was enough!

Reward: We try to diversify our snacks for health and deliciousness. We decided to do research by watching TV. Leslie suggested a show, which was roundly decried at first, but eventually attempted for lack of choices. We loved it. In case you wish to know the title (and more about our senses of humor writing), it’s called, ‘You’re the Worst,’ on FX. It’s a bit naughty, so we don’t want anyone to be surprised! How did we survive? It was just that funny. A couple of episodes lagged. Yeah, we admit it, we binge-watched, but overall it was very enjoyable

Day 3:  We got our last blog post done and ready. We finalized and did two passes (or was it three?) on chapters 14-16 of the book before sending them off to the editor. Good feeling and time for more snacks! First one to the kitchen is a golden egg!

Also…. we got our first press release out for our funding product! Hooray! That was an accomplishment. Leslie only wishes she’d set it to come out earlier…. How about you, Andrea? Are you satisfied? She’s easy to please about some things. <wink>

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? We’re happy and in any case we pushed on through some difficult pain times.

Reward: Almost done with the first series of our show now, so aiming high, but … dun dun dun: “Walking Dead (especially season opener) takes PRECEDENCE!

Day 4, early: Scene at the door: “Whaaaa…. time to part again.”

Now: Back at our own domiciles and on the phone sharing a screen once more.  Today’s goal: write this blog post!

 

Reward time…A favorite time of day…

 

For you writers out there, we found what we think is a good writing prompt site… just in case you are helped by prompts. Leslie wrote her first novel from one photo of a grocery store with an apartment upstairs.

Enjoy!

 

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Every time you refresh the page, the Writing Prompt in center area will change.

Happy Writing to you and you and you….