When I first embarked seriously on creative writing I read a lot of books and listened to many a podcast about the craft of storytelling. I’m always fascinated to hear from authors about how they do it. (I still haven’t really got to the bottom of it)..
One of the things I kept hearing from writers is that they’re constantly observing the world around them, watching how people act and react, letting seeds of ideas grow. It was something that seemed to be innate, not a conscious action.
Darn. I hadn’t been doing this. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a writer after all?
I started carrying a notebook around with me so that I could write down flashes of inspiration. I made myself use it a couple of times then it just became the bottom of my bag, buried in receipts and mint wrappers.
Now, a couple of years down the line, I find I am thinking more like those writers, observing the world in a different way, and doing so subconsciously. I walk to work now and nearly every morning I’ll see a person or a scenario that sparks something and makes me ask ‘what if?’.
Have you ever been to a place though that basically assaults you with ideas? This happened to me just recently at Portobello Road on a Saturday market day. The location alone lends itself brilliantly to a story, rows of pastel coloured shops, pink, blue and green with quirky signs in the shape of teapots and curious names like the Print and Map Shop. As soon as I arrived my head started pinging with ideas.
I’m already working on one short story which is inspired by that day and I know I’ve got loads more ideas in hiding if I’m ever struggling.