The Writing Mood

Writinginspirations

Jo Seated on the Old Sofa from “The Most Beloved American Writer” Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937 oil on canvas, 32 x 25 in. Collection of George Lucas

My flash fiction writing has preferred to flail lately. It’s also worthy of note that I haven’t spent much time on this blog. Generally speaking, I haven’t written much of anything. All this has left me pondering my writing inspirations.

The first truth is, I rue not learning about flash fiction sooner. I discovered it by Googling ‘techniques to help you write’ about two years ago, but undoubtedly these existed pre-internet. Even so, despite my interest in writing at school and (early on, at least) selecting subjects in this field, techniques to prompt creative writing remained untaught. We were simply told to ‘write a story’ and predictably I’d fall into an idea vacuum and choke on the panic of ostensibly having nothing to write about.

Rather than learning to write, I trained myself to dismiss ideas. I didn’t launch into flash fiction as soon as I discovered it either. I stood back sceptically for a good six months and marvelled at the flash writing of others before attempting a few challenges myself. I secretly believed that I was incapable of creating anything from them, especiallywords/images that might as well been pulled from a hat.

I admit, I’ve surprised myself. Of course, I’m hardly a flash fiction/writing prompt expert. I’ve completed barely a dozen writing prompt challenges, but writing prompts have shown me it’s easier to work with (and grow) ideas if you have a focal point. An enforced focus from flash fiction challenges, be it an image or words, works especially well for someone like me who’s far too quick to throw out my ideas than wash and rise. The advantage is they absolve me from the original idea and make me work and persist with something I may have otherwise rejected. Rather than ‘nothing’ to write about, there is everything to write about – it’s a matter of finding that spark.

Reading others’ creative writing also inspires me to write, especially if I find the writing particularly powerful, emotive or beautifully phrased. Watching films can do the same. They make me want to write something; practise capturing moments with words.

Then there’s mood and music or is it music and mood? I never know what comes first. I use music to manipulate my mood and assist the tone of my writing. I couldn’t say how those musical choices are influenced by the mood I’m already in. For better or worse I write more and (arguably) better when I’m in a darker/confused/conflicted/sadder emotional place. When someone asks me how I am and I answer, ‘I’m really good’ the voice in my head invariably adds ‘I must be, I’m not writing much’. There are a couple of levels to this though – when I am ‘good’ writing less is more a consequence of doing more non-writing stuff. I also have a life-long habit of writing when I’m down because it helps me process all my ‘sads’.

What inspires you to write? Is there anything I’ve missed?

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