Writers tend to be inspired by their life experiences, the people they meet, and the society they live in, as well as the books and films they consume. But inspiration can come in other from all over the place, including quite unexpected sources.
Here are five unusual sources of inspiration that inspire my writing.
This might sound a bit creepy, but I find Instagram really useful for character inspiration. The character of Natalie Jackson in my novel As Luck Would Have It was inspired by someone I follow on Instagram, and a few of the traits of my protagonist, Rachel, in my upcoming novel Flying Solo were also inspired by someone I follow on the gram. (If you don’t want to feature in one of my books, you might want to block me!)
I know a lot of people give an artificial, carefully curated, impression of their lives on Instagram, but I do find it interesting observing details of people’s day-to-day lives and their habits, and these observations often help me develop my characters.
I’m not a fan of wearing headphones when I’m out and about and the reason is because I like to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. At the risk of sounding like a creep (again!), I love overhearing phone calls on the train, or ‘reading’ in a café while listening to people chat. It’s so interesting to me to hear what people from all walks of life talk about and how they talk to each other. I remember sitting outside a pub in southeast London once and listening to these two burly guys discussing Theresa May one minute and different brands of shaving blades the next. I find stuff like that so interesting. I feel like it helps me understand people better, which enables me create believable characters.
Real life magazines
I love reading read life magazines.
I’d never really thought to look to these magazines for inspiration until I was sitting in my doctor’s surgery one time, flicking through one of these mags. I read a story that made me think and helped me unravel a plot hole in my book. Since then, I read them regularly and often take details of people’s life stories and apply them to my characters, helping me to develop realistic and interesting backstories.
For example, Rachel in Flying Solo, experienced homelessness as a teenager, and what happened to her was inspired by the circumstances of a story I read in Woman’s Own. You never know where flicking through a magazine will lead!
This is beginning to feel like a distant memory now that we’re in lockdown, but going to random events can provide invaluable inspiration. You can find out about all sorts of events in your local area on sites like EventBrite or Meetup. I’ve been to events that I wouldn’t normally choose to go to, from business workshops to village hall coffee mornings. I like learning about random things and mixing with people and communities I might not otherwise encounter – it helps when crafting characters and coming up with interesting stories.
It's so easy to procrastinate and waste time on Twitter, but the site can also be a goldmine of inspiration.
You know those tweets you see that ask people questions about their lives, like ‘What makes you cringe when you look back on it?’ or ‘How did you know your partner was the one for you?’? I LOVE these tweets. I’ll often take details from them to embellish my characters’ backstories or spark an idea for a story-line.
What random sources of inspiration inspire you? Comment below!
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