Wattpad & Hilroy #startwriting contest
Here's my entry for the latest Wattpad short story contest. The topic was helping other author's find ideas and their inspiration. It was interesting to write because it showed me how much my own process for brainstorming and idea searching has changed since I first had the idea to write a book. I used to wait for inspiration to strike instead of go looking for it and it wasted so much time!!
It took becoming a writer for me to discover everyone has a secret bottle of creativity within them, its only a question of whether they are willing to uncork it. Being creative sometimes means being silly or engaging in exercises that might seem lame or irrelevant. I’ve found the more resistance you feel, the more you should trust yourself and do the action. A favorite of mine is the Mind Map which is basically a brain dump. You write your main idea in the middle of a page, then fill the page with any thoughts that come and worry if they fit or make sense later. Give yourself permission to write down everything no matter how random because ideas bring about more ideas. Afterwards you will review and pick out what speaks to you. This can be helpful in deciding how to organize the scenes of your story, what to add or cut and the overall flow.
I had already finished writing a book when I decided to learn more about the actual craft. Character ARCs, plotting, themes were all foreign terms to me, and I struggled to allow myself to go back and do development exercises. My brain screamed that what I was doing was pointless and stupid, but I persisted. I ended up adding 4000 words to my novel and changing the ending. Sometimes the simplest exercises can be illuminating. For me everything changed when I was instructed to draw a circle with all my character names and draw lines between the ones who had conversations. The next step was to look at which characters never spoke and consider if it would be interesting if they did. I realized I wasn’t done with my antagonist and instead of killing him off, sent him to prison. Take the exercises seriously, inspiration can come from anywhere.
Every day I remember my ‘Why’. I started to write initially to prove to my aimless teenage son and three little nieces that anything is possible for them. If I could put my ideas together and write a book, there were no limits on what they could do. It is easy to get frustrated and convince yourself you’re blocked when really the only block is the one you put up. Accepting it and recognizing you can control it is vital. Mindset matters and if you tell yourself, you don’t have ideas or you can’t write, guess what? You can’t. Always carry a notepad, I’ve had scenes pop up while looking at cloud formations or wondering what to order in a drive-thru. The key is to just listen to the voice inside that is telling you to write, it’s not lying to you. Everyone has a story inside them and something to say. Getting it down on paper is just the beginning. There are no limits on where this first step could lead you, it’s about deciding to take it.