When I saw the topic for the EWG’s first blog topic, I thought, great. Nice and simple. Until I started to write. I drew a blank. I didn’t have a clue what inspires me to write. I’ve written in many genres, from academic writing to the romance story in the EWG’s current anthology, All Mapped Out, and realized that there were vastly different reasons why I wrote each piece. My seniors’ advice column in a local newspaper that I wrote several years ago was responding to a need voiced by seniors in our community. With contract work, I was hired to research and write on a specific topic. The four anthologies published by the EWG each followed a theme. But each project required a different creative angle that would drive the work. What was is that inspired me to take each project in the direction I chose?
With the clock ticking on the date I promised to submit the post and absolutely no ideas, I took the obvious course of action. Procrastination. And dived headfirst into researching what inspires my three favourite authors.
I started my research with Stephen King. If you haven’t read his book, On Writing, I would suggest you do so. I love the twists and turns that King throws into his stories. If you’re wondering how he plots a story; he doesn’t. He focuses on characters in a unique situation. But how does he come up with these unique situations? On his website, King states it is more often looking at a different way two things could interact and then asking that all-important question, What if?
As a writer drawn to using the first person, Dan Abnett, comic book writer and novelist, was next on my list. His Eisenhorn series is a brilliant example of how to use first person. Inspiration for his work doesn’t come from a single source. He is in tune with everything around him. The initial idea and framework for much of his work might come from his publishers, but it’s Abnett’s spontaneous ideas that boost the story to the next level. Those of you who scoff at roleplay games may want to give it a try. Abnett attributes his ability to quickly generate ideas and plots to his role of Dungeon Master as a child.
If you haven’t discovered romance writer Nora Roberts’ blog, Fall Into the Story, you definitely need to check it out. Romance fiction has changed over the years and it’s Roberts that is one of the driving forces behind this change. Her books feature strong, independent woman focused on interesting careers rather than marriage. When asked in an interview what inspires her, Roberts, who also writes as JD Robb, replied that she doesn’t rely on inspiration and couldn’t identify the impetus for an idea. In fact, she doesn’t spend a lot of time on planning it all out, she just writes.
You’re probably wondering why these three writers who work in distinctly different genres could be my three favourite writers. I like the way they write. The words they choose, the images they create, the way they structure their sentences. It all speaks to me. And, yes, I have re-read and re-read my personal favourites of each writer. All three authors are uber-prolific and can’t imagine doing anything other than writing. They also don’t seem very worried about what inspires them to write. They simply rely on their skill as writers to use spontaneous ideas to move the story in unexpected, interesting directions.
Clock ticking, I had even more respect for these three writers, but no idea what inspires me to write. As I re-read what I had written, I realized it isn’t important where I find my ideas. It is these three writers that inspire me to write. I want to write as well as they do. I want to be able to write words that speak to my reader. As Samuel Johnson said, "A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it".
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