Follow your inspiration

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10 July 2020
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Writing inspiration will always come from the things you love, which gives you a unique voice

Here at Writing Magazine, we’re strong believers that you’ll be inspired to write best if you write about what you love. If you write following your passions and your fascinations, you’ll invest your work with energy, authenticity and the unique sense that only you could have written those words.

What inspires you to write?

What are you passionate about? Apart from writing? Because this is where you will find the seeds of the stories you need to tell. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, everything we write comes from a spark of inspiration generated by our own engagement with our inner and outer worlds.

What are the current affairs stories you follow in newspapers and online? What grabs your attention, and really engages you? Perhaps it’s issues around identity, race, culture, or gender. Maybe it’s the psychology of social media. What are the interests that motivate you to go on fact-finding missions and discover and learn all you can about them? Is it food, fashion, history, remembering your childhood, taking engines to bits? Perhaps it’s exploring a fantasy world. Maybe it’s a passion for early detective novels, or a deep desire to know everything there is about the history of postboxes. Whatever it is, let that interest inspire you and guide you. Follow your nose, find out everything you can about it. Delve into it. Dig deep. If you're inspired to do so, add your voice to the discussion.

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Write from the inside

You’ll be amazed how these passions and interests inspire your writing. You may find yourself writing about exactly the subject that inspires you, infusing your writing with a sense of enthusiasm and a precise attention to detail that makes your fiction, or non-fiction, come vividly to life. (Remember that telling details embedded into your narrative will do more to convey information in your writing than swathes of info-dumping, which people will be bored by, and skim though.) If you write non-fiction, or journalism, writing about what you love, and targeting publications and websites that cover your subject matter, is a great way to find yourself in print. It may be true that seasoned old hands can write about anything, but not with the freshness, love and enthusiasm of someone deeply into a subject – that’s why the best music writing, for instance, comes from passionate, deeply knowledgeable crate diggers who are inspired by each new discovery and can convey that love and knowledge in a way that inspires readers to discover it too. Enthusiasm is infectious – yours can inspire someone reading what you’ve written to go on a whole new voyage of discovery.

Go off the beaten track

You may also find yourself writing about something that seems tangential – but you might never have started writing that particular poem, story or essay if you hadn’t been inspired to follow your passions or obsessions. For instance, you may, recently, have been following the headlines about Covid-19 – it would be almost impossible not to. And although you might not have been inspired to write directly about your experience of life during lockdown, you may well have discovered a related theme that has been engaging you – maybe loneliness, or community, or grief, or anxiety, or keeping things local - has filtered into your writing, giving you a new slant, or a different angle, or an insight you didn’t previously possess – or even a new direction, or an idea for a poem, storyline, or piece of creative non-fiction.

Curiosity and creativity go hand in hand

In the same way that following your passions is a sure-fire way of finding inspiration, curiosity about new interests can also lead to being inspired. For writers, that moment when you lock into something that provokes the creative brain to go ‘aha!’ is a better buzz than a champagne cocktail. And the more you keep an open mind, the more you’ll allow yourself to follow your inspirations and discover new things. As writers, we need things to write about. We can’t write about nothing. If you get the sniff of an idea or inspiration, follow your nose and dig deep. As a writer, always be prepared to try new things, and see what sparks. This goes for life experiences and interests that fuel your writing, but also for new approaches to your work. There’s a deep difference between finding a groove and getting stuck in a rut, so keep an open mind and let the inspiration find you.

Inspiration gives you a unique voice

Writing about who, or what inspires you adds a unique slant to your work. No-one has your insights, your perspective or your particular angle on things. This gives you the opportunity to write with authenticity. ‘Own voices’ writing is quite rightly valued, and in most cases that means writing from lived experience. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write about that experience, but it means you write from the position of having experienced it, which is not quite the same. Owning your experience and claiming your unique voice is an inspired choice. No-one can write as you. You, your background, culture, experiences and insights are unique. No-one can write from your perspective – which is a deeply inspiring thought.

Inspiration equals investment

If you’re inspired to write about what really interests you, you’re already invested in that piece. This means that your creative energy will be flowing, filling you with ideas and giving you the momentum to get words down. If you follow the love, you’re onto a double winner: writing with love is its own reward but the chances are that work you’ve written from that place will be better, and more likely to catch an editor’s eye, than something you’ve churned out as if it was your creative writing homework and no more.

Writing is the one place you can’t hide. If you’ve written something that doesn’t come from a place of inspiration, it may well fall flat, and editors have a keen nose for whether or not something rings true. So let them see that you’ve been inspired, and what you’ve been inspired to create. It’s not a guarantee that it will get you published or win you a competition, but it will give you much more of a winning edge than a safe, dull, typo-free manuscript. If you follow your inspirations, you’re giving yourself a chance to shine – and shining trumps safe. Every. Single. Time.

Read more about how inspiration is everywhere, if you're a writer!