Sunday, 5 September 2010

Stories and Ideas

Just where do writers draw their ideas and inspiration? And how do these ideas translate themselves into memorable stories, poems and novels?

I think the answer is always, ultimately, a personal one, and so I will answer it personally. For me writing is an expression and exploration of the self. When I am writing anything that has happened to me is open to be used for inspiration, using a healthy dose of imagination to weave the ideas, experiences and thoughts together to form a story or longer narrative. I draw on my own experiences and I then reimagine them, recreate them and allow myself sufficient distance so I can write about them with fresh eyes to make the most out of the story I am trying to tell. This is not to say that I write autobiographical stories, my characters and events are fictional; however there will be an essence of my self, often manifested in my style of writing, that will ring true throughout all my work.

I’m a firm believer in the importance of stories. They help us understand and make sense of the world around us, and our place in that world. Throughout history it has been stories that have formed the basis of our learning and helped us grow intellectually and spiritually. Stories have the incredible power to take us away from our current stresses and strains and transport us to a place where we can escape the mundanity of life. And they also allow us to draw understanding from events that can often feel too random or colossal for us to comprehend when they happen in reality.

For me a good story will often help me put my own life into context, and it will stay with me, a true friend for life. I feel that a memorable story will have the strength to be honest and key into the thoughts and emotions that make us truly human, fallible and able to make and learn from our mistakes. I also feel that the process of writing is deathly honest. Writers need to be honest with themselves and their stories in order to explore and fully understand what their characters are feeling. In order to be true to ones story, one must first be true to oneself.
Stories sustain the spirit, and the very process of writing stories can be expressive, therapeutic and deeply enjoyable. Nevertheless, during the writing process it’s well documented that many people suffer from a conflict with their internal editor, that voice that questions the validity of your ideas and your ability to express them in the manner that you envisioned. It is important for writers to overcome their fear of failure in order to progress with the story they are trying to tell. As the saying goes: an idea that exists and is put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea. And this I think is the challenge for all writers, to turn ideas into stories that stretch our world, to present us with new perspectives and different ways of seeing.

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