The Inspiration Station…

Where do ideas come from? That’s probably one of the things my readers ask the most, especially if they love writing themselves. And the answer is that ideas are everywhere, in things you see, hear, imagine… and of course, in things you remember, too. They are resources you will always have available. You never need to have writer’s block. If you are stuck for inspiration, all you need to do is look, listen, imagine, remember, and a whole bunch of possibilities will appear.

I never plan to use my own memories much when writing, but little snippets of the past have a way of sneaking in. The abandoned kittens found in a school dustbin and then hid in the art teacher’s stock cupboard in Driftwood? I guess they were inspired by the abandoned dog we found on the school playing field back when I was a high school art teacher. And yes, we hid it in the stock cupboard so the Head wouldn’t find out!

When Dizzy and Finn lie back and look at the stars in Dizzy, they are doing just what I did with a friend long ago. The Elvis party in Sundae Girl? Yup, I was there. The damp basement flat where Indie and Misti went to live in Indigo Blue? Based on one of my student bedsits. The Polish girl trying to settle into the UK in Angel Cake? I met a girl just like her after a school book event, and her teacher asked me to write about how hard it is to come to Britain from overseas and settle in. The cool gypsy boy riding a black horse, bareback, in Scarlett? He rode past me when I was walking along a quiet lane in West Cork, long ago, and I always knew that one day I’d put him in a book.

Memories are triggers for your imagination, your own personal storehouse of ideas and experience. It’s your inspiration station, no special equipment required. It’s all inside your head! Take a memory and daydream around it, and see what unfolds… it might just be a story!

Do YOU have a favourite memory, one that could inspire a story?

32 thoughts on “The Inspiration Station…

  1. My favorite memory is now, when i walked along a beach with my uncle in Great Yarmoth. Less then a year after that, he passed. Thats my favorite memory for now. They change sometimes though.

    🙂 Good post Cathy, nice to see you here again x have a good day.

  2. I lov this post, Cathy! It’s so true. You just have to sit very still and let the ideas swim up from the depths of memory and experience – and then turn them into fiction. Though one of my daughters, (the one Pip in Seriously Sassy is loosely based on) did say when she read the first Seriously Sassy, ‘Mum! You have stolen my life!’

  3. Hi, Cathyxx
    My current tween novel is choc full of memories. As my two central characters have head injuries, I went back to my time as a pupil at a boarding school for disabled people and thought about the people I knew there.

    As well as that, this novel’s taken me back to Christmasses when I was a kid, made me remember a home tutor I haven’t seen for 15 years (showing my age now-oh, dear!) And brought me back in to contact with my procotious 6-year-old self.

    It’s been great fun to write, revisiting everything. I might even FINISH this one, who knows?

  4. My favourite memory is reading my first newspaper, I read it to my grandfather and it was his last newspaper. I’m not sure this could inspire a story, but you never know what the mind can dream up!!!

    Fab Post!

  5. Thanks for the inspiration its fab to get inspirationand writers technics from a great author. Its amazing how you get inspiration and how most of the your memories are part of them. xxxxxx

    • Thanks Ezri! The memories are a kind of springboard for a story – then the daydreaming/ imagination takes over and a story can develop. Often, the final storyline bears no resemblance at all to whatever inspired it, but that is part of the fun!


  6. I have a very funny memory to share with everyone, which has inspired a current story I’m writing.

    We’d just got off a plane, and my mum was desperate for the loo. You know the feeling – you’ve been holding it in for ages and ages and ages and the relief when you get off that plane is immense.
    In my mum’s case – more than immense.
    Lots of planes had landed near the time of ours, and so, reasonably, the toilets were absolutely packed. Now, knowing airports, the toilets are often not even that big. And that means queues. And queues are not good for people (such as my mum) who are desperate for the toilet. What was even worse was the fact that 4 toilets were out-of-order, and therefore there were only three toilets to go round the entire female-needing-the-toilet-nation. This is not good.
    So, my mum finally gets her turn. Everyone waiting in the queue is silent, impatient and waiting to go. Seriously, there’s silence.
    My mum goes into the toilet and you hear this hesitation and suddenly this really, really loud sound from the toilet. And then…
    “AAAAAAAGH. BISTO!” My mum cries in happiness.
    The whole toilet goes silent. Not that my mum notices. She skips out the loo, with a big smile on her face, saying to me, “Aw, that was so lovely, sweetie! The relief! My goodness, I was going to burst! Now that its out I feel so happy, love! Aw, bisto!”
    My mum has failed to realise the 20 people staring at her.
    And staring at me.
    Worst Day Ever.
    And the worst part.
    “Well, love, you know what I say – when you’ve gotta go – you’ve gotta go!”

    Great Post!


  7. Thanks for your advise.
    Its cool how a lot of people make up stories from things that happen around them changing them a little.

    A great memory for authors is like a blessing in disguise!

  8. Memories are brilliant because they shape the world around you.
    If you have a bad memory of someone, then you’ll always remember them as a bad person.
    If you have a good memory of someone, then you’ll always remember them as a good person.

    I don’t really have a “special” memory, but I have a few nice memories, like when I won my first book (on this website!), when I read my first book, when I learnt to swim, when I learnt to run, when I went sledging with my family in Milton Keynes, holidays, and when I first discovered this website.

    Great inspirational post!

  9. Fab post! I have to say, I find it really hard to get ideas! I think I should listen more to people more, and notice things, when I’m out.

    • Cliona, once you start paying attention to what’s happening around you those ideas will never be in short supply again! Being a people-watcher is one thing most authors have in common, and it’s fun, too! Try it and see…


  10. Hi Cathy! LOVE your post! Some things just strike you so strongly you know they’re going in a book! It was really interesting to find out where the idea for Angel Cake came from, I think that is my very fave book of yours. Lots of Love, Kellyx

    • Aw, thanks Kelly… Angel Cake was set in Liverpool, too, which is where I went to art college, so lots of student memories sneaked their way into the story too, and I set it in the area I once lived… it was a fab book to write for me for those reasons!

    • I think everybody feels ‘blocked’ sometimes – the trick is not to give in to it. Why should writers have the luxury of being ‘unable to work’ because they’re not inspired? Best to keep on writing anyway, inspired or not! Glad the post has helped a bit, though!


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