Tag Archives: inspiration

November Inspiration

We’re halfway through November, which means many writers out there are halfway through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). Some of you might be starting to feel the mid-November slump and need some fresh inspiration to get over the hump and reach your daily goals. I’ve included extra picture prompts this month, so hopefully there will be something here to help spark your muse.

PICTURE PROMPTS

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Where is this? What significance does the butterfly have? Is the butterfly the main character or does it play another role in the story?

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What is the dragon protecting and why? Is it a good dragon or an evil dragon? Is the dragon the main character or another part of the story?

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Where is this? What significance does the duck have in the story? Is it the main character or just part of the scene? Who might be looking at the duck? Does the rain have any significance in the story?

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Horse
  • Fair ground
  • Hero
  • Moustache
  • Argentina

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Turkey
  • Gunpowder
  • Day of the Dead
  • Lantern
  • Children

GENERAL

  • Saint
  • Adoption
  • Scorpion
  • Citris
  • Drums
  • Soldier
  • Remember
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September Inspiration

Here in the Southern Hemisphere spring has sprung! But if the beautiful spring weather (or the arrival of autumn and all its wonderful colours for those above the equator) isn’t sparking your creativity, here are some prompts to help inspire you.

PICTURE PROMPT

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Where is this? Who is taking the photo and why? What is that black shadow in the sky? (you can click on picture for larger view)

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Spring
  • Father
  • Grand final
  • Heritage
  • Sneeze
  • Rain
  • Chile

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • School
  • Autumn
  • Work
  • Moon
  • Harvest
  • Regatta
  • Remembrance

GENERAL

  • Sapphire
  • Minerva
  • The number seven
  • Basil
  • 30 days
  • Maiden

June Inspiration

Need some writing inspiration this month? With summer holidays starting in the Northern Hemisphere and cold wintry days perfect for writing in the Southern Hemisphere, you don’t want to be stuck for ideas, so here are some prompts:

PICTURE PROMPT

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Where is this place? What does the crow signify? Is the crow the main character? The main character’s pet? Part of the scenery? An omen?

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Fireplace
  • Winter
  • Queen
  • Marathon
  • Football/rugby

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Vacation
  • Beach
  • Father
  • Fish
  • Ulysses

GENERAL

  • Twins
  • Marriage
  • Youth/children
  • Flag
  • Solstice
  • Skateboard

May Inspiration

With NaPiBoWriWee and Short Story Month currently happening, I’m sure there are quite a few of you looking for inspiration this month. Since these events are happening, and since I didn’t do an inspiration post in March or April, I’ve added some extra inspiration in this month, including TWO picture prompts!

PICTURE PROMPTS

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Picture Prompt 1

Where does the road lead? What’s beyond the fog? Who is travelling this road? What does the fog mean?

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Picture Prompt 2

Who does this belong to? What does it contain? How did it come to be here?

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Leaves
  • Autumn
  • Sign language
  • Music
  • Butterfly
  • Revolution
  • Red

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Flowers
  • Sunshine
  • Sneeze
  • Children
  • Maypole
  • Horse
  • Cinco de Mayo

GENERAL

  • Mother
  • The number five
  • Fertility
  • Elders
  • Soldier
  • Nurse
  • Dance

February Inspiration

Looking for some inspiration for your picture book, short story or poetry this month? Hopefully there will be something here to spark your muse.

PICTURE PROMPT
PICTURE PROMPT

PICTURE PROMPT

What sort of bird left this feather behind? Where is it? What is the bird’s story? Or what is the story of the person who finds the feather? What does the feather signify?

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Fire
  • Flood
  • New Zealand
  • Sun
  • School

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Family
  • Pearls of ice
  • Football
  • Groundhog
  • Flag

GENERAL

  • Pancakes
  • Valentine
  • Water
  • Wedding
  • Red

January Inspiration

Although this post is primarily written with those partaking in 12 x 12 in mind, it can serve as inspiration for anyone in need of a writing muse.

It’s the first month of 12 x 12, so hopefully you’ve come into the challenge full of fresh ideas, ready to write and, for some, maybe a notepad full of ideas from PiBoIdMo. But maybe you’re already lost. Maybe you did 12 x 12 last year and you’ve exhausted your well of ideas. Maybe you thought your ideas were great, but now when you try to write a PB, they’re not sparking like you expected. But not to worry, if you need a bit of inspiration, here is a list of prompts (including a picture prompt). Maybe a single prompt word will prompt a story. Maybe a combination of prompt words will. Hopefully there will be something there to inspire you. Good luck!

PICTURE PROMPT
PICTURE PROMPT

PICTURE PROMPT

Who is she? Where is she? What is she doing? Why?

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Summer
  • Holiday
  • Swimming pool
  • Barbeque
  • Australia/New Zealand

 

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

  • Snowman
  • Frosty window
  • Winter
  • Martin Luther King
  • Fire

 

GENERAL

  • Snake
  • Fireworks
  • Doorway
  • Wolf

Photo a Day Challenge

Has anyone else heard of the ‘Photo a Day’ challenge. It’s run by FatMumSlim who can be found on Facebook and Twitter or on her blog fatmumslim.com.au.

I’ve seen many people on my Facebook friends list doing this challenge throughout the year and love seeing their takes on the different prompts, so this month I decided to give it a go. (Here is the September prompt list).

I love writing through prompts. Several of my published stories were inspired by prompts. My children’s story ‘Green Nadine’ was inspired by the prompt ‘green’. My recently published short story ‘A Troll for Christmas’ was inspired by the line ‘Troll the ancient yuletide carol’ from the song ‘Deck the Halls’ and is one of my favourite stories to date.

I’m hoping one of the photos taken from these prompts might help inspire a picture book this month for 12 x 12, or at least help get my creative juices flowing by getting my mind to think in different ways.

The great thing about prompts is they are so open to interpretation and can be taken in so many different directions. No two people will interpret a story prompt in exactly the same way (just look at the other two stories in Deck the Halls that were inspired by the same line as my story–they’re completely different to my interpretation.)

In the spirit of talking about prompts, here is a prompt for you:

OUTSIDE

You can use it to write a story in any genre or even as a photo prompt. Be as creative or as literal or as metaphorical as you want. Have fun!

How to Find Inspiration for Personal Writing (Guest Post)

I’m excited to be returning to my blog after a month hiatus. (For those wondering: baby is doing well, though we had a bit of a scare when she went into hospital with an infection a couple of weeks ago.) While I continue my ‘maternity leave’, I will be hosting a series of guest posts over the next two months. Today’s guest post comes from freelance writer Amanda Tradwick. She looks at how to find inspiration for personal writing when you work as a professional writer, but her advice can equally apply to those of us who work in any industry–it’s all about being able to switch from business mode to creative mode.

How to Find Inspiration for Personal Writing When You Work as a Professional Writer

Many aspiring writers find work as professional writers for another content area. For example, maybe you want to write romantic fiction, but you work as a newspaper reporter. Or maybe you want to write dystopian fantasy stories, but you work as a professional blogger. When you spend the majority of your day writing in a professional capacity, it can be difficult to then come home and spend the time and energy writing your own stories. You have been staring at a computer screen all day stringing together words in a purely functional capacity — how do you then switch modes to rediscover your love of joining words for the magic of creating a new world? Here are a few ways that you can stay inspired and keep working on your personal writing, even when you’ve had a full day of writing for pay:

Create a Separate Space

Much of the writing process is intuitive, based on our thoughts and our emotions. Often, we just need to change the way we think or feel to help us get in the mood to write. Creating a separate writing space for your personal projects can help you do this. If you do your professional work in a home office, go to another room to do your personal work. Create a special place to do your personal writing, setting it up with all the things that you like and that you put you into the frame of mind for doing your personal work. Outfit it with your favorite pens, a comfortable chair, pictures of your favorite authors, books that inspire you, or other special objects like pictures or sentimental items that inspire you to write.

Take a Break

Another way to help you create some mental distance between your professional and your personal work is to take a break between these sessions and do something enjoyable. Clear your mind by doing something that is not related to work or to writing. Watch a movie. Spend time with friends or family. Go for a walk. Any activity that does not require you to use a considerable amount of mental effort can help you to feel more refreshed and ready to work when you sit down to do your personal writing.

Set a Schedule

When you get into the groove of writing, it can become easy to lose track of time and to spend hours upon hours working on a project. If you let this happen with your professional writing, it can easily lead to burn out. Don’t allow yourself to spend an excessive amount of time on your “work” writing. Set a schedule for yourself that gives you an appropriate amount of time each day to complete work tasks, to take a short break, and then to work on personal writing. Your personal writing time can be as little as a half an hour or an hour. By scheduling in this time, you ensure that you don’t allow yourself to devote all your time to work and that you have the time for personal projects. Scheduling in personal writing time also ensures that you will spend time working on it, rather than pushing it off in favor of other projects.

Take Small Steps

Starting a project can be overwhelming. There is so much to sort out: character, plot, outline, and more. Instead of allowing yourself to procrastinate because you’re overwhelmed, give yourself permission to take small steps toward your goal. Start by just writing a sentence — good or bad. Or you can just write down a few notes about character, even just a character name. The next day, write another sentence or short note about story or character. Over time, you can begin to add more sentences or more time spent on the project.

Review Your Goals

Why do you want to be a writer? Why do you want to write novels, or children’s books, or other works of fiction? Asking yourself these questions from time to time and reflecting on the answers will help you remember why you are doing what you’re doing, and it will help you find your inspiration. Remember what made you want to start writing  in the first place and reconnect with that feeling.

Writing everyday for pay can lead to burn out and make you feel uninspired to do any other writing at the end of the day. Finding ways to stay inspired is important to your progress as a writer. Setting a schedule, reviewing your goals, and creating a separate space in which to do your writing can help. What other ways have you found to stay inspired to write, even when you spend your days writing for others? Tell us about them in the comments!

About the author:

Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for CollegeGrants.org. She has a Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on scholarships and grants for college students and colorado scholarships and grants.

Writing Picture Books – 4 Ways to Get Inspired

As I mentioned in my last post, this year I’m taking part in the 12 x 12 in 2012 picture book writing challenge. Some of the participants are using ideas they came up with during PiBoIdMo in November, which gives them a great starting point. I didn’t do PiBoIdMo since I was busy entrenched in NaNoWriMo at the time. This means I’m going into 12 x 12 without a stockpile of ideas to pick and choose from. I was lucky enough this past week to have been inspired by a particularly hot day (actually it was about three hot days in a row). Sometimes inspiration can just strike like that, other times it doesn’t. I’ve still got eleven months of ideas to find (not to mention an extra six during NaPiBoWriWee if I do that too).

So how does one go about finding picture book inspiration?

These are some of my favourite ways to get inspired:

– Observing children at play. I’m lucky enough to have two little muses running around my house and they provide fantastic inspiration. It’s hard not to find story ideas when watching children play as they have such vivid imaginations themselves. You find yourself immersed in their world and you’re brought down to their level. If you don’t have children of your own and you’re not a teacher or childcare worker, seek out places where you can watch children play: a local park; the McDonald’s playground; friends/family with children. Don’t forget to take a notepad!

– Sitting outside. I’ve always found sitting outside and just absorbing the world around me to be a great way to get inspired. Take a notepad or laptop and find a nice spot in the garden/at the park/at the beach/by the river to sit and let your senses take over. What can you see, hear, smell, taste and feel? Try to see the world from a child’s point-of-view. Is that a fairy hiding in the roses? Is that a pirate ship out at sea? It doesn’t all have to be fantasy, of course. A game of soccer could be the starting point for a story about being left out/trying your best/trying something new. If the weather is bad, try sitting and staring out the window.

– Draw on your world (aka Write what you know). I live on a farm and I draw on those farm experiences to find inspiration. A mouse in the hayshed? What if he was trying to find a new home for his family? Think about where you live and how you can draw on it. Perhaps you live in the city or by the beach or in a small neighbourhood; what unique experiences can you use in a story? Look at your world from a child’s perspective; what would they see? What about an animal?

– Go places. Go to the zoo and watch the lions/meercats/penguins. Go to the museum and imagine stories behind the exhibits (Who flew that plane and where did they fly it? Was that dinosaur shy or boisterous?) Go to the beach and observe the people/families/animals. What are their stories?

As you become inspired, just keep one important point in mind: Picture books are written for children, so when crafting your character (whether human, animal, monster or alien) make sure your character has a child’s perspective. Children should be able to relate to the character and the character’s situation.

How do you get inspired? I’d love to hear where you find inspiration when writing picture books.

Picture: omar franc via stock.xchng

Why You Shouldn’t Let Rejection Get You Down

I read a really encouraging blog post by literary agent Natalie Fischer today. She started off by telling this story:

“I’m going to tell you a little story about a boy named Theodore Geisel (shh, now don’t interrupt if you’ve heard this one). Theodore had written a picture book manuscript called THE HOUSE ON MULBURRY STREET. He shopped it around. He sent it to twenty-two editors and, after that twenty-second rejection, Theodore decided he would go home, shred his manuscript, and give up his dream.

On the way home, he ran into an old friend of his, who had become an editor. His editor friend convinced him to let him see his manuscript. The editor changed the name of the book to THE CAT IN THE HAT, and Dr. Seuss was born.”

You can read the full blog post here (it’s really inspiring and encouraging): Don’t You Dare Give Up

J.K. Rowling overcame rejection to become a hugely successful author.

The story about Dr. Seuss got me thinking about other famous authors who were rejected before making it big, like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King (who are now two of the richest and most famous authors around today). Since I’ve just started embarking on the road to publication (I just bought a new printer yesterday so I can start printing out my cover/query letters) I thought I might print out some of the rejection stats of big name authors to stick on the wall above my computer and keep me motivated through any future rejections. These are some of the ones I’ve come across:

J.K. Rowling‘s agency sent Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to 12 publishers, all of whom turned down the book.

Richard Bach‘s book Jonathan Livingston Seagull was rejected by 26 publishers.

Stephen King received more than 30 rejections for his first novel Carrie.

Beatrix Potter ended up self-publishing The Tale of Peter Rabbit because it was turned down so many times.

George Orwell received a rejection letter for Animal Farm stating ‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.’

I hope these stories of rejection, followed by success, will help keep my spirits up during the querying process.

References:

http://adventuresinagentland.blogspot.com/2010/08/dont-you-dare-give-up.html

http://news.scotsman.com/jkrowlingharrypotter/The-JK-Rowling-story.2436228.jp

http://worddaze.blogspot.com/2008/08/september-1-author-rejection-day.html

http://www.writersservices.com/mag/m_rejection.htm

http://www.bethanyroberts.com/rejection_letters.htm#Famous

My 'Don't Give Up' Wall