You stare at the blank screen. You hover your pen over the page. You wonder if you close your eyes and wait a bit you’ll start automatically writing a masterpiece. We’ve all been there, waiting for the muse to hit and our writing to begin.
Popular culture would have you believe that creative inspiration just hits you when you’re out walking or buying a loaf of bread. And sometimes a spark will appear like Harry Potter wandering down a train aisle and into JK Rowling’s head. But usually finding an idea to write about involves just that – ‘finding’. Fortunately, you might not have to look very far.
If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ll no doubt have collected a bunch of exercise books, scraps of paper, notepads, computer disks and hard drives filled with notes. You may well think they’re a bit crap, and they may well be. But they could also hold the spark you need to begin writing.
I’ve been churning out writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil and much my early work is typical of what kids and teenagers write and it’s pretty hideous. But when I decided my next book would be an anthology of short stories, into my cave of wonders I went. There I found enough diamonds in the rough to make up a good chunk of the book with a few new ones rustled up for good measure. I’ve had to do some serious re-writes, often completely but the kernel of the idea or even just a character survived for me to work with.
So if you need an idea, start with what you’ve already got first. Oh and be careful what you throw away!