5 Unexpected Ways To Fuel Your Story

5 Unexpected Ways To Fuel Your Story

Our inspiration for writing comes to us in unexpected ways. In this post, we discuss five unexpected ways to fuel your story.

Driving, running, dreaming – our post reveals the surprising ways we can feed our imagination as writers and storytellers.

Our inspiration for writing comes to us in unexpected ways. Often it is not when we’re at our desk or when we have paper and pen in our hands, but at times when we’re not even aware of it.

When you’re not ‘actively’ writing, your subconscious goes to work and imagination creeps in.

It’s probably happened to you before. The plot knot that has been frustrating you suddenly unravels. A radiant image blooms in your mind.  A mood for a scene takes hold of your heart.

All of it seems to come to us when we least expect it.

However, if you’re aware of the ways that creativity comes to us, you can harness it and use it to make your story stronger.

5 Unexpected Ways To Fuel Your Story

1. Driving

Annie Proulx says did most of her writing on her iconic short story ‘Brokeback Mountain’ while she was driving. In fact, a curve in Owl Canyon Road in Colorado became the curve that killed a main character’s parents.

To be honest, I have some great ideas while driving, but I seldom write these down when I’m back at home. It’s always a good idea to record what your imagination is trying to tell you – or it will slip away.

2. Walking, Running, Swimming

Research shows that there is a link between dopamine and creativity and problem solving. Dopamine is one of the happy chemicals in our brains and it’s no surprise that it is triggered by exercise.

Joyce Carol Oates, when confronted by frustrations in her writing, often goes for long afternoon runs to break her writer’s block. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Talking to Strangers, says he does a lot of ‘free association’ while running – with a lot of useful thinking going on at a subconscious level, he says.

Author of Hideous Kinky, Esther Freud has been swimming on the North Coast, UK at the same stretch of beach for 30 years as a sort of wet creative pilgrimage. Whether you do it in the sea or a swimming pool, taking to water is wildly liberating for a writer.

3. Listening To Music

Music seems to stimulate most writers. J.K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie, for example,  are fans of listening to The Beatles while writing.

Other writers listen to music that mirrors the mood of their stories. Some writers prefer listening to classical scores while writing, because they find the lyrics distracting.

4. Reading

I think we’re the most relaxed and receptive to creativity when we’re reading, either fiction or non-fiction.

Mary Higgins Clark, the suspense writer, read a magazine article about a young man who vanished from his college dormitory and phoned home every year, refusing to give information about why he left or where he was in the world. It became the plot trigger for her bestseller Where Are You Now?

5. Dreaming

Sue Monk Kidd writes down most of her dreams and says she got the ending to her novel, The Secret Life of Bees, from a dream she experienced.

If you can only remember a fragment of a dream, write it down. It’s a clue, it’s a start and you must follow it.  If you’re struggling with your writing, ask your subconscious to solve the problem while you’re asleep.

Feeding Your Story

‘The scraps that feed a story come from many cupboards,’ says Annie Proulx in her essay ‘Getting Movied’ about the filming of her story, ‘Brokeback Mountain’.

So true!  We must just be aware of where this store of ideas and creativity is placed in our world and ransack it when we need to.

LOOK: If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

Anthony Ehlers by Anthony Ehlers

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