Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Share with me, what was the inspiration for your current novel? 

Happy Days – My Grandparent’s Farm In Wales
Me (far right), my sister and my two cousins.

Was it a dream? An incident that altered your life or the life of a friend? A trip overseas? Or perhaps a simple observation that, for some reason, sparked your imagination?

The inspiration for my novel – a children’s fantasy – was my grandparent’s farm in Wales. A place I spent much of my childhood and haven’t been back to in decades. A place that represents adventure, discovery, innocence and characters of such eccentricity I have to convince myself they actually existed. Writing the novel has plunged me back into those familiar surroundings, the old farmhouse, the mud-spattered yard, the stables with the wet noses of young calves peeping out, and their warm, sticky tongues as they suckled on my fingers.

By the way, I am really, really enjoying writing this blog.

Stephen King claims the idea for Misery came to him as he dozed off while on a New York-to-London Concorde flight. His dream was supposedly influenced by a short story about a man in South America held prisoner by a chief who falls in love with the stories of Charles Dickens and makes the man read them to him.

The inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels supposedly came from the sleeping giant profile of the Cavehill in Belfast, a 368m hill that looms over the northern fringes of the city.

A manor house in North Yorkshire, that Charlotte Bronte visited on a day trip, is long thought of as a likely inspiration for Jane Eyre’s Thornfield Hall, where Mr Rochester kept his mad wife Bertha confined in an attic.

It’s interesting – the spark, the birth of an idea that captivates us with such intensity we’re driven to invest hours developing it into the concept for a novel. Like a seed, we spend months watering it, nurturing it and encouraging it to grow. The roots, the branches, the rich, green leaves and fragrant blossoms that stem from a strong, solid trunk. And sometimes, unless you’re a meticulous planner, the finished product has morphed into a story that is vastly different from our original idea.

There are so many places we can draw inspiration from: Our childhood, an interesting relationship, an incident we witness or a place we visit, our local community, an historical event. Sometimes, it helps to sit down and brainstorm your ideas. Grab a notebook and pencil, retrieve to a quiet corner and allow your imagination to run wild.

How do you know if your idea is strong enough for a novel? You can read as many articles and blogs as you like, but I believe you have to go with your gut. If you’re passionate about an idea, your writing will be passionate. One question you can ask yourself – is this something I would want to read? Consider the question as an outsider. If the answer is yes, you have an idea that’s workable. And anyway, perhaps – in Jack Kerouac‘s words – ‘It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.’

Back to my original question – share with me, what was the inspiration for your current novel(s)?

Did I mention? I am really, really enjoying writing this blog 😉



Filed under First Drafts, Inspiring Articles, WritingTips

14 responses to “Where do you draw your inspiration from?

  1. Hi. My inspiration came from a series of poems I was doing on abandonment. I kept encountering abandoned churches in my travels and so a story was born. Jane

  2. I’m not really sure where the original idea for Disappearing in Plain Sight came from – but I do think I was inspired by my many years of working with people in various helping roles and my understanding of how people cope (or don’t cope) with stressful situations.

  3. Mine was a hodgepodge of ideas that stewed in my brain for a while. A friend inspired the main character. A long weekend away inspired the setting. My own stress and frustation at work inspired the psychotic break of the antagonist. They all sort danced around each other in my brain and became a story. And yes, I completely agree that knowing this is “the” idea is something you feel in your gut. We can all read tons about what genres and storylines are selling – but only our instincts can tell us which story we can write from an inspired place and thus write well.

  4. I found a story I wrote in high school and decided that I would re-write it and flesh it out as a YA novel using the same characters. I started that, but it never took hold. I decided to pick up with the characters at age 30 and weave in some of the elements of the original story I wrote as flashback. It’s working much better!

  5. Sometimes it’s those first ideas we have that are the best ones – we just need the time to let them evolve! Good Luck with it and thanks for contributing 😉

  6. From dreams and day-dreams. And I agree you have to write about something you would be interested in too.
    Enjoyed your post. L.

  7. Hey Gemma – I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award 🙂

  8. For me, it’s a very small island, just off the coast, that I’ve visited since I was a child. It has such a rich history that it has many stories of its own, hopefully mine will just add another thread to the tapestry.

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