As a person who is constantly trying to immerse herself in the writing world, I keep hearing about how important it is to write every day. Well, this hasn’t been so easy for me because I usually suffer from writers block. If I feel blocked, I get frustrated easily and end up doing something else entirely. This is certainly not the best way to begin a writing career!
So in my desperate need of ideas, I’ve “cheated” a little bit. I’m guilty of going to one of those websites that generates an idea for you to write about. They look something like this-“Write about two strangers who are in a restaurant. The tone is mysterious and the activity they are doing is studying.” And I’ve even downloaded apps that give you ideas of what to write about. I’m not trying to bash these forms of inspiration. These may work for you. But they don’t do much for me.
Just this morning I got an email from a writing idea website I subscribed to. I opened it and was ready to be inspired! However, none of the ideas spoke to me. I find this happens to me very often. Prompts are fun to help get me started but they seldom lead to any meaningful and fulfilling writing projects. I’ve realized that the stories I write from prompts, aren’t really from my heart. And so, I have a hard time finishing most of them. I’ve become so use to turning to these cheats, that I’ve silenced the stories I already have inside.
So…I’ve been trying to use less prompts! A couple weeks ago, I was at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles for my sister’s graduation. While I was waiting in the lobby, the decorations were so beautiful and the artwork on the ceiling and fountain made me feel inspired. I took pictures of my favorite parts of the lobby and knew I had an idea brewing. A few days later, I sat down and wanted to write something new. I remembered the pictures of the 92 year old hotel I took and began writing a short story about a character who had to stay there. I finished writing it in a couple hours and actually, I’m pretty excited about it. And guess what? I didn’t use a generator or anything! Something about the hotel touched me and I had to write about it. I’ve found that to search within yourself for a story is exciting! It could be a memorable event from your past, a piece of a conversation you heard that has stuck with you or an experience or person that has touched your life.
I think that writing prompts have their place in a writer’s life, but we shouldn’t rely on them too much. Instead, we need to look at ourselves. Prompts are an easy way to get an idea and they are certainly easier than searching within yourself for a story. But I really believe that to be great writers, we should listen to the stories that we already have inside of us. Whether you are a poet, novelist, short story writer or some other creative being, I think it’s so important to write what’s in your heart; what has touched you the most. Those ideas will make the best pieces of writing. So learn a lesson from me…don’t always resort to quick ways of inspiration, look inside yourself first.
Where do you get your writing inspiration? Have you ever tried one of those prompt generators?
Something I love doing is going to the beach. I haven’t gone in about two years, so a few days ago I decided to pack up my things and go. Every time I do, I have a fantasy of laying on the sand, with the ocean breeze blowing in my hair, the sun lightly kissing my skin, enjoying the hypnotic sound of the waves hitting the shore….
I would have my notebook, a few pencils (in case one of many of them happen to break in some freak accident) a few pens and my imagination. Then I’d take a sip of lemonade, take a look at the beautiful ocean and begin to immerse myself in my story world.
But the reality is whenever I write at the beach, something always distracts me. That horrid sound a seagull makes when it wants your bag of chips, the loud group of high schoolers next to you who decided they would bring their schools entire football team to the beach or simply the great atmosphere is enough to be distracting.
This time when I went, I was able to read a chapter of a writing book I recently purchased but that was all I was able to do. This time it wasn’t a seagull or a loud group of people. It was the ocean itself. I ended up leaving my stuff on the shore to go and play in the water. Feeling the cool water on my skin felt wonderful and seeing the sparkling waves all around me was so relaxing. I ended up leaving the beach with a head full of sand, a face full of salt and an empty notebook. It wasn’t at all what I had planned when I decided to go to the beach to write but it was still a lot of fun.
In the meantime, the place where I feel the most comfortable and creative is in my room at my writing desk. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll be able to live out my beach writing fantasy 🙂
Is there a special place you would like to escape to write?
Do you like your writing time to be in a quiet place or do you mind a little chaos?
Her grey hair was pulled up into a tight bun. Her clothes were nice and neat and she wore thick black glasses that sat on the tip of her skinny nose. Her presence was that of a teacher you once feared or a deceased grandparent you respected. I watched her reading my story and knew exactly what she was going to say. When she was finished, she threw it at me. The pages slapped me in the face and some fluttered around my desk. In a very loud, intimidating voice she yelled,
“This isn’t good enough! No one is going to want to read that. That doesn’t even make sense!”
I’m talking about her. My inner editor. When she isn’t yelling at me for creating work that no one is interested in, she’s busy telling me how my ideas are stupid or that I might offend someone if I write a certain thing.
Well this weekend, I decided to shut my inner editor up. This weekend all I did was write. I wrote exactly what I wanted to write and didn’t care if it was publishable or not. I just wrote because I love writing. I allowed myself to get lost in the world I was creating and enjoyed spending an entire day playing with my characters.
At the beginning of the year my personal goal was to send out a certain amount of stories each month to literary magazines, hoping that I would be published in one of them. Since I had the mindset to produce work to send out, I got lost in the process and my writing suffered because of it. Writing felt like a job instead of a hobby. I dreaded editing my stories because I wasn’t in love with them, they weren’t special to me. They were shallow pieces I quickly put together in order to make the literary magazine deadlines. So this weekend, I decided it was time I wrote for myself again.
I’ve heard that when you write, you should do it with someone in mind, for a certain audience. The audience I often picture never likes what I have to say. What I write is never good enough. On Saturday, my only audience was me. Just me and my imagination, writing whatever the heck I wanted and getting lost in it. And you know what? Its the most fun I’ve had with writing in a while! I’ve been writing for fun since I was 7 years old but I’ve been writing seriously for only a couple months. Its amazing how the desire for perfection overwhelmed me and chocked my creativity so much! I went back to that 7 year old me and just wrote for the fun of it. And have decided that is how I am always going to approach my writing. Write just because its fun. Write something because you would enjoy reading it. Write without boundaries.