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Inspired Creative Writing 2


Taking the Plunge

This is the second excerpt from Inspired Creative Writing by Alexander Gordon Smith from the brisk and entertaining 52 Brilliant Ideas series. This month, Taking the Plunge.

Second excerpt

Here’s an idea for you...

Stuck for something to write about? Open your eyes and look around you. There is material everywhere. Read old diaries or browse through your notebooks. Read newspapers and magazines for fascinating stories. Sit in a café and gaze out of the window. Listen to conversations, invent stories for the people who walk past and write them down. It may take a while, but if you pay attention to the world around you, then inspiration will come. The trick is not to go looking for the idea of a lifetime. Sit back, relax, soak up your surroundings, listen to the scraps of thought that flutter through your brain and before you know it you’ll be running round the block screaming ‘Eureka!’.

Taking the plunge

Try another idea...

The muse can often be encouraged to visit with a little playful experimentation.



Defining idea...

‘Experience is one thing you can get for nothing.’


52 Brilliant Ideas – Inspired creative writing

Taking the plunge

You may think your muse has passed you by, but it might be that she’s the kind of girl who whispers rather than shouts. Ideas are everywhere, you just need to learn how to spot them.

So, you’ve cleared your desk, opened your notebook or a blank document on your computer, and are ready to write.

But suddenly your mind is devoid of inspiration and you begin to panic. What on earth are you going to write about? While there is more to being a writer than just a good idea, without an inspirational seed for your novel, screenplay or poem you are like a knight in armour with no monster to slay and no sweetheart to rescue.


For many of us, ideas are a lot like buses. You wait ages for one to come along and when it finally does it breaks down. Then, when you’re walking home in the rain, three more turn up and everybody else jumps on board. Of course you may be one of the lucky ones, and already be nurturing the seed of an idea. But for the majority of writers, it’s a difficult truth that it takes more than motivation alone to produce a masterpiece.


If you have been inspired, don’t ignore it. A great many writers turn away the ideas that flit around in the back of their head, begging to be put on paper. Why? Because the idea may not fit in with the self-image they want to nurture, or because they would like to write something more ‘literary’. If you do this, you may be passing up a good thing. Don’t ignore that persistent tug; take the bull by the horns and see where it leads.

The ideas that flutter in the half-light of our conscious mind are those that make us think, that make us laugh, or cry, or scream. Otherwise you would have forgotten them long ago. These ideas may be nothing more than a scene, a single character, perhaps something as small as a phrase. Or they might be an entire plot line, an epic journey that you have been mentally planning for years. But whether large or small, these threads are important to you, and because of this you have the ability to weave them into a work of art.

The writers I have known who have passed up these faint cries for attention have often gone on to pen strained and sterile work because the ideas they eventually work with don’t engage them. Chances are, the ideas you may already possess, even if they are barely visible, have a personal significance. If you give them a chance, you will be able to draw on a wealth of personal emotion and experience in order to produce a literary work that truly connects with its readers.


But what happens if you are champing at the bit and raring to go, but have nothing to write about? Don’t worry. Ideas are the product of your experience, bits of your life, inspiration from books, films, plays, all mingled together in a turbulent alchemical mix. This bubbling cauldron of images, words, sounds, smells and thoughts is constantly generating tendrils and strands that appear as random ideas or dreams. Occasionally these strike a chord in our mind and germinate to become inspiration. This isn’t always a flash of pure genius, so learn to watch out for the little things, the tentative thoughts, the shy visions – chances are the smallest of seeds will grow into an idea if properly nurtured.

What this means is that although you may not have an idea per se, you do have a vast wealth of experience to draw upon. This bank of material is unique – the people you have loved, the places you have visited, the games you have played – nobody else has lived the same life. Start to peel back the years and look at the vast web of activity that is your life, and the ideas will begin to roll in.

How did it go?

Q Fantastic! I’ve thought of an idea. But how do I know if it’s any good?

A There is no easy answer. Different readers like different things, and an almost infinite number of ideas have made it into good books. Perhaps the best way of determining the strength of your idea is to ask yourself (honestly) how you feel about it. It may be clever, but does it excite you? It may be exciting, but does it make sense? It may make sense, but is it original? At this stage, only you can answer these questions.

Q Oh no! Every idea I come up with has been done before. There are no new ideas! Aaargh!

A Calm down, breathe deeply and relax. We’ve all had moments like these. I have innocently penned several stories only to find out after I’ve submitted them that similar tales have already been published – often by famous writers who’ve written them much better than I have. How embarrassing. Of course the millions of books already in print use up an enormous number of ideas, but if you look closely, many bear close resemblance to one another. The truth is that even if your idea isn’t original, your own unique way of writing and your own inimitable life experience will make the finished product one of a kind. If you like the idea, go for it.


The first excerpt

The third excerpt

Inspired Creative Writing by Alexander Gordon Smith is published at £12.99 as part of the 52 Brilliant Ideas series by Infinite Ideas. To buy this book please visit their website at

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