The best way to find inspiration to write.
A question I am asked all the time is this — ‘Where do you get your inspiration or story ideas?’ If I were to answer it with complete honesty, the answer would be ‘Everywhere!’ But somehow that doesn’t satisfy them. ‘How can you get inspiration everywhere? There must be some secret that you aren’t sharing with us.’ Some of them tell that to me outright. And some just convey it by their expressions. I wish I could say that there is a large ‘idea bucket’ in my house, and I just go and rummage in it, and pull out the first suitable one that comes up.I think what most people are actually asking is where they can get ideas from.
Here’s the thing about inspiration and story ideas— what works for one person may not work for another. What I can tell you is what works for me.
The first thing I need is large chunks of solitude. I need time to think. I need to be by myself, alone. Living with a family ( With my husband , my large dog and my two teens) solitude is as rare as caviar. So when I am lying on my tummy, pretending to be asleep, I am actually working. I am thinking.
If you want to find inspiration to write, you need to be able to have the freedom to dream. It is only from these dreams that you can make up stories. You need to ask yourself ‘What if?’ And you need to observe, and ask questions. What if the cleaning lady is actually an under-cover detective employed by someone to spy on you? What makes that clerk at the grocery store be so rude? Why does the lady who sells flowers at the street corner, wait by the same tree for five minutes, before she comes and sets up her shop every evening?
To be able to write, you need to be interested in people, you need to know what makes them tick, what makes them happy, irked, annoyed, irritated, unhappy, sad, angry, furious. You need to understand their emotions and translate those into words on a paper.
I do all of this when I am alone. I think it is also because I feel too deeply that I am able to write. When I read something that happened to somebody, I feel every emotion they went through, or I can relate. Sometimes I think I am a collector of pain. I collect these things subconsciously and later, it comes pouring out in my words. There is a term for such people — Empaths.
I do not know if I am an empath or not. I have been told time and over, while growing up ‘Don’t be too sensitive.’ or ‘You are over-sensitive.’ Each time I heard it, I wanted to curl up and disappear into the earth. I abhorred hearing it. I realised most people just do not understand why I would feel sorry for someone who was not connected to me in any way. So I taught myself to hide what I felt, and express my feelings in the stories I told. Or the art that I made. I hid them all. I didn’t want people commenting on them, and hurting me further.
There are many courses out there, which will tell you where to find ideas, how to write dialogues, how to create plot-points etc. Take those courses. But mostly, listen to your heart. Spend time alone. Ask yourself questions. Go to that place inside your head that you fear. Dig. Deeper. And draw out that which you abhor, which makes you burn, which makes you want to shrink into the earth and never emerge. Hang out those memories.Gather the pain.
And then write.
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