• strict warning: Declaration of FeedsImporter::copy() should be compatible with FeedsConfigurable::copy(FeedsConfigurable $configurable) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/includes/FeedsImporter.inc on line 94.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsNodeProcessor.inc on line 319.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsFeedNodeProcessor::setTargetElement() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::setTargetElement(&$target_item, $target_element, $value) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsFeedNodeProcessor.inc on line 227.
  • strict warning: Declaration of FeedsUserProcessor::map() should be compatible with FeedsProcessor::map($source_item, $target_item = NULL) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/feeds/plugins/FeedsUserProcessor.inc on line 195.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • warning: preg_replace(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1809 in /home/writezil/public_html/modules/search/search.module on line 334.
  • You must include at least one positive keyword with 3 characters or more.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display.inc on line 1877.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_display_block::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_display_block.inc on line 193.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_field.inc on line 641.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_sort_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_sort.inc on line 82.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 585.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 609.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 128.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 25.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 135.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of content_handler_field::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/cck/includes/views/handlers/content_handler_field.inc on line 208.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 843.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 745.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument_broken::ui_name() should be compatible with views_handler::ui_name($short = false) in /home/writezil/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 770.

How to Find Inspiration—Fiction Therapy

https://i2.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Fiction-T... 300w, https://i2.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Fiction-T... 768w, https://i2.wp.com/writerunboxed.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Fiction-T... 2000w" sizes="(max-width: 525px) 100vw, 525px" data-recalc-dims="1" />Whether you’re wondering what happens next in your story, want to write your first novel, or are about to start on the next instalment of your long-running series, there are always times when you’ll need inspiration. And it is often surprisingly close by.
‘Be observant,’ said the dramatist, Lajos Egri, ‘and you will be forced to admit that the world is an inexhaustible pastry shop and you are permitted to choose from the delicacies the tastiest bits for yourself.’
It’s that easy.
Except it’s not.
It’s difficult to suddenly ‘be observant.’ You don’t have time to sit around looking at things. You have to pick up the kids, get to the supermarket, make dinner, finish off that last game of solitaire. And you have to write!
Hemingway noted that it was difficult to be observant, but he also recognized its importance for writers. Being observant, he said in his 1935 Esquire article, Monologue to the Maestro, takes practice. ‘You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice.’
You don’t have to memorize every object in a room. There are simpler ways to get inspiration for your writing from observing the world around you. It can start with your morning shower.
Try to use all five senses next time you take a shower. Notice how the water falls, how it splashes and goes off at different angles. How would you describe the soap smell? Does the warm water taste different from a cold glassful? Does the water feel warmer on your face than on your back or legs? And listen to the sound of the spray and how being in the shower can distort other sounds?
As your characters go about their everyday routines, try to pick similar moments in your day to gather details you can use in your writing.
Eating is another good opportunity to practice these kinds of observational skills. How do you hold your cutlery? How do you cut the food? Do you pile it all on the back of the fork or scoop it up? Stop just before you take a bite. Look closely at the texture, the shape and colors. Notice any aromas. Then, when you put that morsel in your mouth, take a moment to taste it before you bite. When you do bite, does it make a noise? Does it crunch? Do your teeth clack together? Does the food taste different when you start to chew? What kind of flavors are released?
After a while, you can start to make notes of your observations. Wherever you are, somewhere new or somewhere familiar, take time to look around and enjoy what author David Mitchell called ‘free gifts’ in a recent interview with the LA Times.
‘When I go to a place I get a number of free gifts … I’ll get five decent sentences … about the place; they’re textual photographs. If you get these free gifts, use them in the text, use them in the prose, use them in descriptions. Put them in and they’re lovely little things to find on the forest footpath of the story, of the book.’
If you do that, you too could become wonderfully eloquent when giving a simple piece of advice.
You don’t even have to go somewhere new to get your five sentences. Try to write a few lines about the room you’re in right now. Look around, in all the corners, under the furniture, to see if you can find something you’ve never noticed before. Or find new ways to describe how the seat feels under you.
Internal inspiration
It’s not only the external world that can provide inspiration. There is often a whole conversation going in inside your mind. It can be worth taking a moment to stop and listen in.
This is especially useful if you’re writing from a first person point of view.
Try to observe how thoughts arise in your mind. What are your thoughts like? Do you think in words? Do they come in complete sentences? Maybe you think in images. How could you translate them to the page?
Don’t try to change your thoughts. Your thoughts are not good or bad, they’re just thoughts. Sit there and listen. That too takes practice.
Look for moments of conflict in your own thoughts too. When you consider having another coffee, for example. Or should you write one more page first? Try to listen to that to and fro as your mind tries to rationalize the best choice:
‘I’ll get a coffee first, that’ll give me the boost I need to write this next page.’
‘Yeah, but if I write the page first, the coffee could be a nice reward.’
Try to observe this whole thought process and see if you can introduce that into your writing to make your characters’ internal conversation and inner struggles seem more realistic.
Sometimes, when you’re lacking inspiration, it only takes a sentence or two to give you that spark, to set you off again. And those couple of sentences can be right in front of you now. Just take a look.
Where do you look for to get inspiration on those difficult days? Do you have sources of inspiration that never fail? What other tips do you have to fill those blank pages?
Every month, I look at the many different aspects of fiction—character development, plot, story structure, etc.—and offer advice and tips to help you work through the problems in your novel.
I have adapted many of the concepts you’ll see here from proven techniques used in modern psychotherapy. Hence: Fiction Therapy.
If you have a specific concern about your novel, send an email to jim [at] thefictiontherapist.com and I’ll do my best to help

About Jim DempseyJim Dempsey has worked as an editor for more than 20 years. In 2012, he set up his own book editing company, Novel Gazing, and offers proofreading, copy-editing and developmental editing services. The company works with publishers and self-publishing authors. Jim has a master’s degree in creative writing, and uses his passion for stories – all kinds of stories, fiction and nonfiction – to coach authors, helping them to develop their writing skills. When Jim isn’t editing, he’s still reading, and reviewing books for Bookmunch. Jim is a professional member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.Web | Twitter | LinkedIn | More Posts

"Living gives you a better understanding of life. I would hope that my characters have become deeper and more rounded personalities. Wider travels have given me considerably greater insight into how cultural differences affect not only people, but politics and art."
Alan Dean Foster

Random picks

  • Criticism has never been a more vital and necessary force than it is today. And since its founding in April of 1974, the National Book Critics Circle has worked to uplift, support, and celebrate the voices of book critics.   I am writing today to invite you to join the NBCC or to renew your membership. There’s never been a better time to be part of our organization! Our annual calendar is busier and more exciting than ever, and our members’ contributions and support have been key factors to our success. In March, we hold our NBCC finalists’ reading and awards...
  • In looking at her love for the Bildungsroman, this Guardian blogger suddenly realizes that all her favs were written by Americans. What gives? What these books have in common is that they’re all by American authors (with a high proportion of National Book Awards and nominations among them). Is this merely coincidence, or is there something else at work here? Do American writers absorb Bildungsroman aptitude alongside fluoridated water and Wonder Bread? The titles that inevitably pop into my head when I hear the phrase “coming-of-age story” are Catcher in the Rye and To...
  • As a lyricist (which is how I started out in the music business many years ago), I spent my days playing with words, trying to find the right ones to convey the gamut of human emotions using rhyming and cadence to match the mood of the music or, if I were writing lyrics first, to make them flow in a rhythm that could be put to music. I would tune into the universe Listening everywhere I went for phrases that would make good song hooks and song lines. I carried a pad and paper with me,...
  • Over the course of my writing life, I have noticed that other writers and I cycle through a series of steps on our path toward maturity as a writer. When people come to me for coaching, they often do not know where they are on the path and what they need to move forward. I've identified the phases and given
  • Many blogs have had a profound effect on people’s lives. Blogging can be a tool that will be useful for you whether you want to share information or opinion with a large audience. Keep reading for helpful tips on ways to successfully engage your readers through blog posting. Do not overuse Adsense ads, plug-ins, images or keywords. Overloading your blog with these elements will get it de-indexed from search engines results pages, and then all your hard work will have been wasted. Let your prose flow smoothly and naturally. Blog regularly. A common mistake among new bloggers is...

Recommended sites

Most recent titles

Fast fact about writing

Ancient writing (at first pictographic in nature) is best known from clay and stone inscriptions, but the use of perishable materials, mainly palm leaf, papyrus, and paper, began in ancient times.