WRITES: The Great Inspiration Hunt Begins...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I'm one of those writers who always likes to have a good cache of ideas in the background. Even now, while I'm really immersed in my third novel, a SF thriller, I need to know that there's another couple of stories waiting in the wings - or at least seeds of stories.

To remember everything, I keep a running list on my laptop. I don't write everything in detail, just a couple of words as prompts.  I find that this keeps my imagination fluid until the moment when an idea becomes too compelling to ignore. Sometimes, the entries can linger on the list for years - other times I have to explore the thought immediately.  Quite often, I have a character/setting/theme in my head that hangs around on its own for ages until it falls into place.

At the moment, I have three strong contenders in the queue, all YA - a ghost story, a historical (probably with paranormal elements) and a fantasy. These are all sketchy, and promising, but the one that stands out the most is the fantasy. One image keeps on haunting me, and its connected with something I absolutely love so I'm thinking that this needs to form the basis of the next book.

So what next?

My early creative process goes something like this:
  • Collect images on Pinterest. I tend to use the secret boards for this.
  • Read books, watch films and documentaries around the subject - preferably non-fiction. This usually kickstarts lots of other, connected musings.
  • Write a few shorts to explore character/setting - ideally 3-6 months in advance of starting the novel properly. I've done this with all my books so far and although the final version has always been very different, it's been enough to spark the wider plot.
  • Visit new places and take lots of photos. My recent trip to the Beyond Limits scultpture exhibition at Chatsworth House was a brilliant source of inspiration. My favourite piece was Lens by Unus Safardiar - beautiful and otherworldly. I'd love to use this in a future manuscript.
Lens - Unus Safardiar

 How do you store your ideas? Do you keep a notebook or carry them around in your head?What happens when they start to call? I'd love to know!


  1. I have a stack of index cards next to my bed as inspiration often strikes in the middle of the night or within dreams, so I jot new ideas down as soon as I wake up!

    1. That's a great idea, Katrina! Think I might have to pinch that one :)