So, one of my goals on my 22 Before 22 was to enter three writing competitions. I didn’t manage to enter any, but I have recently caught the creative writing bug again, so I decided to include the goal on my 23 Before 23 this year. The other day, I was really struggling with one of my literature essays, and everything was distracting me, but one of the things that distracted me was the Short Story Challenge 2014. This short story competition is unlike any other writing competition I have seen. It is broken down into rounds, and the competitors are split up into groups. The stories that are judged the best in each group move onto the next round. The most interesting part, however, is that the organisers email you three words that act as the basis of your story. These three words are a genre, a subject and a character, and you have to turn these into the story for the competition. The first round gives you 8 days to write and submit 2,500 words, the second gives you 3 days to write 2,000 words and the final round gives you 24 hours to write 1,500 words. I liked the concept of having a starting point and a close deadline for the competition, because otherwise I find it hard to focus on writing a competition entry when I have university work to do. The entry fee was pretty steep, but all entries receive feedback from the judges, and it will seem worth it if I make it to the second round…I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
Since I am preparing for the competition to begin, and I am inspired to so some creative writing, I have revisited my creative writing supplies. I have picked out some of my favourite and most inspiring resources to share with you to get you writing too! We are all writers as bloggers, and whether you write fiction or not, these resources are sources of inspiration!
My first and foremost ‘go to’ book when I am looking for writing inspiration is The Five-Minute Writer by Margret Geraghty. This book is one that you can literally pick up and open at any page to get writing. This book contains 58 activities that have a brief introduction, then a five-minute exercise to write. With such brief exercises, it is easy to squeeze these activities into even the busiest of days! There is a range activities that are all diverse and inspiring.
Another book that I rely heavily on when writing is The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith, Jr. This book takes a very different but very helpful approach to writing. This little book is packed full of diagrams, lists, charts and graphs, which make building a story a very methodical process. While I very rarely plan a story from the beginning to end before I write it, this book breaks down all of the elements you need to consider from structuring your story and building pace to forming characters and dialogue. Almost taking a scientific approach to writing, this book maps it out and plots each stage for you incredibly thoroughly.
Get your copy here: The Writer’s Little Helper
I know I harp on about this book all the time but I have yet to find a book more inspiring, not only for writers but for anyone at all. The Imagineering Workout is a book written by some of the world’s most creative people; the Disney Imagineers. This book is designed to help everyone be more creative in their lives, from presenting board meetings to planning children’s birthday parties; I have yet to find a more definitive guide to creativity. As you can see, I have several pages marked as pages that I regularly flip to for inspiration. It is full of tips to introduce creativity into every element of your life, from visual displays to written references. This book is such a pleasure to read from cover to cover.
Get your copy here: The Imagineering Workout: Exercises to Shape Your Creative Muscles
And now some books that really do get you writing. These two books are full of prompts to get you started on writing pieces. Ready, Set, Novel! is a workbook created by the people behind National Novel Writing Month, and it is ideal for preparing for or accompanying your novel throughout the month, but can be helpful for shorter pieces too. It begins with some activities to get your generating ideas, then it helps you mould and develop these ideas into fully formed characters with a developed family tree, and a detailed plot. The step by step approach that this book takes helps you to form your novel right from the beginning of the ideas forming. 642 Things To Write About takes a different but equally inspiring approach, by giving you 642 seemingly random prompts for very short writing exercises. This is another book that you can open at any random page and just get writing. The prompts are vague, allowing you to interpret them as you want, and let your imagination run away with you. Each of the activities in the book can be completed in a few minutes, and may of them will inspire you to keep going…a few of mine have become longer stories!
Another great source of writing inspiration are writing maps. These colourful little writing maps fold up so you can just put them in your pocket then head off on a writing trip! Some of them focus on writing in the house, others around towns or in art galleries. Others focus on specific areas of writing such as objects or characters. Each map has beautiful illustrations, inspiring quotes and mini writing exercises that you can either do from your home, our out and about. They are ideal if you want a bite-sized piece of writing on the go.
Get your maps here: Writing Maps
Now, this is when it gets personal. The final thing that no writer can be without is their notebook, although even that isn’t exactly true. I’m a notebook kind of person; I have cupboards full of notebooks, waiting for the ideal purpose. The notebook that I have photographed below is my creative writing notebook. It is pretty chunky for a writing notebook really. As a writer, it is important to have access to a notebook at all times as you never know when inspiration might strike! (Unfortunately the best ideas come to me in a state of semi-consciousness in the middle of the night…) I wanted a pretty large notebook though, so that I could fit plenty of ideas on a page and see ideas linking together over a large area. It is about A5 sized and it is a hardback and it is designed by Paperblanks. The hardback part was pretty essential with the amount of things that I stuff in my bag! And the signature on it is William Shakespeare’s…what could be more inspiring than that! However, people have very different approaches to choosing their writing notebooks. I recently ran a short section of a creative writing workshop, and one of the things that I discusses was the importance of finding the ‘right’ notebook. One person responded by saying that they liked school style exercise books, as they could use one for each piece that they were working on, then tear out pages that they didn’t use, and slot them into the other ones instead. One writer said that he didn’t use a notebook at all, but recorded himself dictating his ideas on his phone! So it is just a case of finding what works best for you.
So these are my favourite sources of inspiration for creative writing, and now that I have them out to hand again, I feel ready to tackle my creative writing challenge! Obviously there are hundreds of books out there that are aimed at creative writing, but I have found that these ones work best for me. Do you have any to recommend? I’d love to hear about them!