Inspiration – where do you find it?

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Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

I’ve been trying to enter a lot of competitions and submit to anthologies lately. My writing group have been sharing the different outlets we’ve found and it’s led to the conversation – does a theme make it harder or easier?

I’ve submitted stories that fit themes and some that only fit a genre. And honestly, I can’t tell what’s better. I’ve entered one competition where there was a prompt word and it took me a couple of months to decide on a story whereas in other competitions the theme has helped narrow down my thoughts. Perhaps it is the genre that helps? The competition I just mentioned did not specify a genre which made the theme word fairly broad. I recently had my first story published in an anthology (WOOO! *does a little dance) and the only specification was the genre was scifi, something I actually wasn’t that practised at when I started. In the end, I picked up a story I had started for a different submission but had gotten stuck with at the time. When I came back at it this time round, the ending was much clearer to me. (So if you’re interested, you can find the book here Spring into Scifi 2019 Edition USA or UK
, shameless plug 😉 .)

This has brought me round to my current thinking of – if you want to submit to things regularly, you need a bank of ideas sat waiting for the right place. The ones I have sent off lately that I was most happy with were conceived before I saw the submission call. Ones I have written when I had the theme already in my head felt harder to finish properly.

So, this takes me to the point of the title of the post – inspiration. Where and when does it hit? For me, it could be a myriad of places. Sometimes a film or show triggers thoughts of what if they’d done it like this, or how would I undo a certain element at the end of Endgame 😉 Dreams have occasionally yielded the odd idea but, to be honest, my dreams can be really weird! (Or about teaching, and no-one wants to read about those dreams.) Usually, it happens in the most random place. One story was inspired by a man I sat behind on a bus, another by a conversation I had when starting a volunteering position using old audio files. I have been known to lose half a conversation because my brain switched to sketching out the plot before I’d even left. This is why, I suppose, the notebook hiding in your possession at all times is one of the most important things everyone tells you to have as a writer. My problem is I end up with a lot of scribbles in different notebooks, some not making sense at all. I need a much better method. Not my phone however, I tried that. It decided to wipe all files one day. I’m sure a best seller was in there somewhere. Now I guess we’ll never know.

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