When I was a little girl, everything around me became a potential story-source. I viewed the world in a wholly unspoiled lens of imagination. Throughout each day, I would prattle on and on to myself, family, and friends my countless character ideas and story points. It was a magical time. Many writers might mourn the loss of their childhood simply for the ideas they mislaid in aging. When you’re a child, you hardly think of rushing to a notebook to write down every spare snippet of your imaginative fruits. You might not have even known how to write at such a time!
As an adult, it can be more challenging for your mind to fire up its imaginative furnace for the sake of invention. We are busy. We have “lives”. What are we to do with our often inspiration-murdering schedules and commitments? That’s a hard question to answer and the solution might be different for each writer. Still, “necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention” and authors are particularly good at finding imaginative sparks in the oddest places. We must, if we’re to write and write well throughout our adulthood.
Like many authors, I tend to find my inspiration in other stories. For instance, the idea for my first novel, Night Bells, came from watching an anime called “Black Butler”. I watched it in Japanese (my love for languages knows no bounds) and I found the stiff character of a boy noble to be an intriguing impetus for a story. Now, if you’ve watched “Black Butler” and read my book Night Bells, you’ll know that the resemblance between the two ends with the fact that they both happen to feature a young noble and a male servant. For some reason, however, the anime sparked the conception of a novel in my mind.
When I fail to find new ideas in the dregs of other stories, I must find it elsewhere. Don’t laugh. I mean it! One of my favorite “thinking” places for story ideas is in the bathtub or shower. When I was a little girl, those were my favorite places for dreaming, because bathing was one of the few activities that afforded me exclusive privacy and the ability to talk to myself without receiving odd looks. Like many authors, I work through dialogue and story points by “talking it out loud”. As a rather eccentric child, I was aware of the fact that many adults found my intense imaginative experiences “cute” or “smart”. But I knew them for what they were: serious, serious moments of business.
Water intrigues me. It carries with it, in every drop, its own story and magic. It is no wonder, then, that I love the ocean and dream up stories every time I visit a beach. Water calls to the depths of my heart—most any heart—and as a child, I knew its value. If you wanted to come up with a good story, you did your most important pondering near a body of water. If a beach, river, lake, or creek was unavailable, you did it in the bathtub or shower.
Even as an adult, I still do my best thinking when I have water running over my skin. Somehow, that childhood habit became a lifelong sanctuary for creativity. It is in the water that my best characters and words originate. It is there that I feel I am totally exposed to my own imagination. We greet each other there, fond friends, and get to business. Writing is a passion, but it is also an unavoidable impulse for most authors. I am drawn to the water when I am in most need of inspiration. If I cannot manage to unearth a single seed of thought in other places, from other stories and sources, I go to the water and I let it cleanse me of unproductive thoughts and worries. In the water, I find my center and can see clearly again.
It is often so difficult to manifest a new idea or creative spark—especially when life has handed you a rather intense season of stress. That is why it is of the utmost importance to be able to find inspiration and creativity in the odd places—the places you wouldn’t naturally think of as “inspirational”. For you, it might be that coffee shop you visit each morning on your way to work. The lives of the workers and patrons might supply you with countless ideas. It might be a strip of street as you walk your dog at night. Whatever it is that provides you with ideas when you need them most, cherish it. Give thanks for such a place or activity. Visit it often—not only when you’re upset or your imagination tank is empty.
Some days, it is nigh impossible to put words on the blank page. Your mind is spent. It has nothing left to give. When those days come, put aside the work and research. Put aside your cares and worries. Divest the clothes and shoes. If you have no idea where to find new inspiration, head to the water. Chances are, you’ll find healing, rest, and a fount of treasures awaiting you there. If not, find another place. Find it in your family gatherings or your exercise routines. Find it in your laundry days or dish-washing. Inspiration can trickle into your system from a variety of pools. You simply have to find your source for it.
Don’t be afraid when you lose your spark. Such times are bound to happen to all of us. The trick is to remain resolute and available to receive the inspiration whenever it sees fit to reveal itself to you. Don’t scorn an idea that comes to you at an unexpected time, from an unexpected source. Give thanks, rush to write it down (after all, your adult mind has an awful lot to remember each day), and ponder its potential. Writers are made of imaginative stock. Remember that the next time you stare at the blank, white page and cannot seem to snatch up a new story. Calm down. Go out into the world and observe. Go about your daily routine. Chances are, your mind will begin to turn its cogs and gears while you’re not even paying attention to it. Sometime soon after, the voices of newly born characters will emerge in your consciousness…the bare bones of a story will beg for your attention. Don’t be surprised if you look up at the grocery store, realizing you have not a can of fruit in your hands, but a tiny story blooming in your palm.