Inspiration can come from anywhere. It is our life experiences that sculpt the writers we become. This can happen in several ways. Our education and childhood will have an impact on the mechanics of writing. Our parents and friends will shape our beliefs, which will affect our writing.
Whether you write personal stories or not there is still a place for personal reflection. Most articles, regardless of the topic, benefit from some personal stories.
Let Inspiration Spark When it Happens
I didn’t write my first book until I was 30. At the age of 30, I accompanied a friend on a one-day writing retreat. During this, I came up with a killer first line that never left my head.
‘Black coffee and paracetamol were not going to be enough to cure the banging in my head.’
From that whole line, a book emerged. Characters came and introduced themselves to me and over the next month I wrote and wrote.
The importance of First Lines should never be overlooked. This first line started my writing career. With no clear plan of where to take this book, no plot outline, I kept writing.
It is the manuscript I finished last month. It is now going through editing and beta-reading. The book has taken many re-writes, there is little resemblance to the book I first wrote. Through all the edits, the first line has never changed.
As writers, we have to be open to inspiration where ever it happens. I have an ideas folder which is jammed with single sentences that intrigue me. Observations whilst I was sitting in a cafe and the strange things I have seen on television. All these everyday occurrences have inspired my writing.
Journaling Develops Your Voice
Journaling is my passion I have done it since I was small. My first journal was given to me by my grandma. An amazing woman who I have written about before. I was eight years old when it came into my possession. At the time I called it a diary, but I have journaled every day since then.
Journaling taught me to develop my voice. If you use a system called freewriting you will be surprised at the benefits. The process involves sitting and unloading your brain onto the page. No worrying about spelling or grammar, uncomplicated writing.
This method has several advantages. It allows your writer’s voice to develop. You establish the topics you like to write about and the way you prefer to do this.
If you are writing down things that worry you, it not only improves your mental health. It also stops these worries infecting your writing. I have lost count of how many article ideas have come from excerpts I wrote in my journal.
Structure Your Articles
For ten years, I was caught in academia. My only writing consisted of assignments and research projects. I still wrote a daily journal, but that was it. I can’t remember a time when the teacher told me the work was amazing or when I stood out. The only prize I can ever remember winning was a drawing competition and my drawing is awful.
What academia can teach all writers is how to structure an article. The basic structure for any piece of writing is the same. Both assignment, articles and to a certain extent fiction.
You start with an introduction to state what your piece of writing is about. You then structure your argument within some paragraphs. Finally, you write the conclusion where you summarise the points for the reader. A clear structure is essential to a successful post.
Imagine Your Characters As a Film
My first memory of wanting to write was when I was eight years old. Sat on a hall floor, crossed legged, listening to an author called Nigel Hinton. I had gone to bed seeing a movie run through my head. Nigel Hinton sat there and stated that a good writer will see the action in their head. As they write they then transfer this to paper.
The movies at nighttime then became potential books. They have remained like this all my life. Seeing the images in your head is the easy part, getting those movies onto paper is the real struggle starts.
As writers of fiction, we need to visualise all aspects of our story. Otherwise, we are left with words on a page. Imagine your characters in full, use this image to describe your characters in words.
Being a Student Taught me to Take Criticism
As a teacher, I have always known the importance of being supportive. One good teacher can change your life, one bad teacher has the opposite effect. Within my coaching, I try to support my writers to be the best version of themselves. Criticism of their work is always given with positives and ideas on how to sort a problem.
I had an awful GCSE English teacher, he was tough and unfair. Instead of helping me become a better writer he spent his time destroying any love for English I had. Most assignments in the class he returned ungraded. It was at this moment that my love of English Literature took a real hit.
His criticism did teach me how to take negativity with regards to my work and to keep going. His inability as a teacher not only shaped my writing but my career. As a teacher for twenty years, his example of what not to do has stuck with me.
Don’t Under Estimate Your Support Network
Support in whatever form is essential if you want to become a writer. Not only support from writing colleagues but from your family also.
I am lucky to have made some wonderful friends since I started writing. The biggest support, however, has come from my family. They are the ones who have to pick up an extra shift so I can write. When you have two children under 3 that’s a big ask of your partner.
I wasn’t always lucky enough to have this support. When I was married my husband used to laugh at the fact I wanted to be a writer. This all changed six years ago when my marriage split and my new partner walked into my life.
The strength she has given me and the confidence in writing I can never repay. Since she has been my cheerleader, I have written a crime novel and a children’s novel. Not to mention daily articles on a range of platforms.
Writing hasn’t always been a positive experience for me. I have made some mistakes along the way, for example, thinking I was published, for it to turn out to be a vanity publisher. Regardless of this, I have never given up.
My life experiences have inspired many articles. It has also given me the passion and determination to write. From a young child sitting on the hall floor, to a writer with my own coaching business.
No experience is a waste. Every turn we take in our life can lead us closer to our dreams and aspirations.
I’m hoping the next year will bring me more success, in the form of a publishing deal. If this doesn’t happen I know I will not stop writing. The biggest joy I get from writing is the simple process of writing itself.