Francesca Capaldi Burgess considers ‘writer’s block’.
‘I don’t know what to do for the blog this week,’ I told my daughter, who promptly replied, tongue firmly in cheek, ‘What about writer’s block?’ Ha ha, I thought, then decided it was actually a good idea.
First of all, I don’t really believe in writer’s block. That is to say, I’ve never suffered from it. As someone who does suffer from time to time with depression, I do often get a kind of fuzziness that makes it hard to work, but that is more of a brain mush. At those times I still have ideas, so store them away in one of my ‘ideas’ books until I’m functioning better.
Interestingly, my other daughter told me a while back that she doesn’t believe in depression, but then she has never suffered from it. I think it often goes with the writing territory, to do with the introspection experienced by many writers.
But I digress. Even though I don’t suffer from writer’s block, I still have ways to get the creative juices flowing. Flicking through newspapers often elicits ideas (especially the tabloids) as do real life magazines, an overheard conversation, a documentary on the TV, music, a walk on the beach, a train journey, family documents, paintings…
A couple of years back I entered the ‘Flash a famous phrase’ competition, where I had to write a 500 word fiction based on a famous phrase. I chose ‘Every picture tells a story’ and extended an unsuccessful flash fiction written for a previous comp based on one of several paintings. I’d picked an 18th century painting, ‘Jean Abercromby, Mrs Morison of Haddo’, calling her instead Mrs Ross of Westwick, and imagined what she was really thinking while sitting for the portrait. It was great fun, as well as gaining me a 3rd place in the comp.
If you haven’t done so already, why not pay a visit to an art gallery, or even a museum, purely for inspiration? Whether you think that the inspiration to perspiration ratio is 1:99, 1:2, 1:3, or whatever version you’ve come across (there are many!), it’s still good to have a place to start. As well as paintings, photographs can inspire too.
Having concentrated a lot on novels the last year, I’ve decided I really need to get back to writing some short stories, which is where I started and where I’ve so far had success. I’ve still got a lot of ideas to work on, but I’d also like to try the ‘Story Cubes’ my daughter gave me. There are nine cubes, with pictures on each side. I’ve just thrown four, and this is what came up:
Hm. Any ideas, anyone?
Portrait of Jean Abercromby, Mrs Morison of Haddo by Allan Ramsay