Inspiration is everywhere – I’m a firm believer in that. You don’t have to go far for your next piece of inspiration, whether it be a character, a name or a place that fills you with ideas.
Today, in fact, I had a sprig of inspiration from an unlikely source. A guy came to the door, involved with the charity the British Red Cross. He talked a good game, knew all the right things to say and he was funny. He didn’t mind the dog screaming at him from behind the living room door, either, which usually puts a lot of people off. In fact, the dog was the first conversational piece. He thought it was a pack of dogs – a common misconception because he makes so much noise – when I told him it was only one, he couldn’t believe it. Enter – conversation about my dog, a peek around the corner at him and returning to the real topic, the Red Cross.
There was lots of diverting from the issue, since a casual comment or word brought up another topic. Eventually, to fill out the forms, I let him into the hallway, to sit on the stairs. Letting him into the living occupied by the one-dog-pack would have been impossible, but he didn’t mind. He sat, I stood and he clapped eyes on my massive DVD collection. Enter – conversation about films, books, that I write, and funny stories.
Basically, he spent about twenty minutes or half an hour in my hallway, as we talked. It was an easy conversation, but let me just say now NO – do not think romance or sparks. There was no attraction on either side, let me assure you. It was just one of those moments where you meet someone who is engaging in conversation and easy to talk to. You know you’ll never meet again, so you say things and get distracted, because it doesn’t matter. At least, not in the grand scheme of things.
It was, however, a pleasant diversion from my usual day. And he gave me an idea for a character. = Relevance.
I’ve now got an idea for a character called Stuart, who (though my visitor wasn’t gay, this character will be – Sorry, if you’re reading this!) gets tangled up in a work-related mess. I’m not sure how or what he works as, but since I’m a romance writer, it will eventually lead to romance. I have the character all set in my head, now I just need the finer details, so I can get started on my plot.
Another great source of inspiration for me, is the book I’m reading right now. It’s called ‘The Commons’ and is book 1 in The Journeyman series, by Michael Alan Peck. It’s one of those unfortunate books that has been sitting on my TBR list for months and months, while I fight off these annoying illnesses and juggle real life with my books coming out so quickly in succession.
One of the characters, Zach, is autistic and he’s an absolute gold mine in the book. The way his character is written is just so inspiring. I wish I could write like Michael Alan Peck. He’s got a real talent there, for getting inside the head of his characters and that’s something I really want to improve on. Zach is a major source of inspiration, not only for his personality and the way he’s written, but also for his silent insight into situations and the other characters. The MC, Paul, is also a really great character that I love. He’s strong, while being insecure and smart, while being naive. It’s a great mix, that makes for really interesting reading.
Though these two characters haven’t inspired me to write anything, they have inspired me to improve my writing. And that’s as important as any story I could come up with, thanks to their influence. That’s what my 2015 year is all about – building on what I have and making it better. With each book that I write, edit and release, I gain a deeper understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, as well as a clearer idea of how to tighten and edit my work. I can only imagine how much deeper that gain will be in 5 years or 10 years time.
I find ideas popping into my head for the strangest reasons, in the oddest places, at the craziest of times. Sometimes it’s a song lyric, a word, a phrase written on a t-shirt or that I saw in an advert, on a TV show. Or even just a name, a quirk that someone displays; there’s something out there that will inspire you, even when you think you’re stuck.
After all, the one thing that is equally frustrating and cherished by writers, in their own personality, is the inability to shut it off. I know that my brain never stops contemplating stories. When one ends, it’s on to the next, or the one I was writing, before another story pushed its way to the front of the line.
When Writer’s Block hits, sometimes all I need is to go away, do something and a moment of inspiration will strike – even if it’s not for the story I’m currently working on. As long as I’m writing something, anything, then I’ll be happy. And I’m pretty sure that I’ll be writing until there’s nothing left to inspire me.