On Finding Inspiration for Writing by J.T. Styles
We absolutely love it when authors willingly share their voices with us. Today’s advice comes from author J.T. Styles. She takes on finding inspiration for writing.
J.T. Styles was born in Ontario, Canada, to creative Canadian parents, and began writing in first grade after she enthusiastically told the teacher, “I want to make books when I grow up!” Vancouver, Canada, is her home where she has worked in childcare for pre-schoolers, later co-establishing provincial programs to improve the quality of family daycare. She has also worked in the Justice System with victims of domestic violence. A winner of literary awards for fiction and poetry, Janni won First Place in the SIWC (Surrey International Writer’s Conference) for a short story called “Blue Shadows.” The year prior her story, “The Musical Messenger” also placed. In 2011 writing became purely therapeutic, a means of coping with multiple losses and trauma that produced the 2013 book of poems,”Spiritshine.” 2014 saw her first collection of stories released in the book, “One More Chance.”
On Finding Inspiration for Writing
Often as a writer I encounter blocks to my creativity. This can look like dealing with real life challenges or just being unable to muster a word others might enjoy reading. And herein live the ironies for me. It was Mordecai Richler, I believe, who said we are an “irony deficient” world. To some extent he is correct. Though I wish he were still with us, I’d love to share my ironic experiences with writer’s block with him.
Real life is a constant source of material for me. An annoying neighbour, a churlish store clerk, a loss, death or events afterward can all contribute to my “inspiration” and character creation or building process. Often it is in the midst of a real life crisis that I find myself thinking of new ideas or plots. Whether financial or health or other challenge has me “locked down” with writer’s block, in the aftermath I am left with a collection of thoughts, plots, characters and ideas that may never have otherwise occurred to me.
From waiting in the doctor’s office for test results to being a passenger in a vehicle being driven too fast or on a city bus full of strangers, in any given line up, coming through a horrible flu or supporting a loved one through a crisis, ideas take root. The irony is these are always ideas I likely would not have otherwise thought of had I stayed stuck at my desk.
Recently in a line up at the movies I witnessed a couple whose dynamic was unfair. The woman seemed stressed at first, she ran back out to their car, then got in line again, then gave the man something, perhaps his change, I don’t know but I do know that in seeing this, I came to the conclusion from his calm and unruffled demeanor that the woman carried all the burdens in the relationship. What I saw may not have been stress but fear. Writing ideas exploded in my head from this one wee observation but I had nothing to write with and spent the next 2 ½ hours watching a movie that drummed it all out of me until just now as I was writing this and remembered that couple.
Nature is my second “go to” for inspiration. If I am just drawing blanks and unable to write, I go for walks to hear the breeze in the trees or water lapping the shore, observe the mood of the skies and all things growing. Other times I marvel at the simple things in catching up on chores: the sound of running water, the soap suds, the rainbow coloured bubbles created while washing dishes is always a marvel to me no matter how many times I have seen these rainbows popping out of existence. Somehow in these spaces of time away from the act of writing, new thoughts and ideas are born and I find myself longing to get back to writing as soon as I can.
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“Allowing space” for new ideas and inspirations is critical for me. Fretting and stewing over the keyboard never achieves a thing, I find. Nor does reading. I have to get up, get out or get away from the hurdle to overcome it with a multitude of new approaches that would never have made their way through to my psyche had I remained blocked at the keyboard.
The irony in all of this is that the very things that block my writing are also the things that inspire it. Trying to be grateful for all of life’s challenges is a monster of a challenge in itself. Though, sometimes in the midst of or after those real world challenges have passed, I find myself feeling so anxious to get back to writing that I know I am just living out the irony of inspiration yet again.
© Janni Styles 16/6/20
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