Life Experience or Imagination? Choose the Source of Inspiration


imaginationWhenever I read novels, I always ponder over whether the author experienced some of the moments themselves (or by their family and friends) or if they discovered inspiration from their own creative imaginations. Personally, I deem it to be an amalgamation of the two that ignites my need to write.

As I advance on this journey of discovering my path to writing short stories, articles, novellas—you name it—I want to highlight a few points that churn my writing juices.

Life Experience

The older and more mature I become, the more I comprehend that my experiences affect my writing style and content. I see that this is a crucial component of my own writing process, especially when I am searching for ideas for creative writing.

I have also come to recognize that it is hard to go by my experiences sometimes, because even if they do bring back happiness and joyfulness, some experiences that I have had can be sensitive or distressing. But if I really do want to demonstrate that I am authentic and real, I steel myself.

  • My Childhood

I try to reminisce over my childhood memories, themes, and maybe singular moments that can initiate some writing inspiration—some of them have been good, others bad, but I find this resource infinitely beneficial. That is how it was like for Roald Dahl when he wrote “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, for example.

  • Trips and Vacations

I have not taken many journeys outside of the country, but even domestic trips have been very advantageous for me. By focusing on unusual or interesting snippets of those trips and vacations, I get immense inspiration—this is definitely better than researching and looking at pictures online!

  • Past Work History

Not all people were born writing at the age of 10. You realize you want to write and then get published at a much older age, actually. With that, you probably have to depend on your experience, pre-writing days.

It is in the workplace where I see myself finding inspiration in my writing, especially if it is about setting and character. I list all the jobs I have had, even including summer jobs. I get surprised at how long the list goes. I even write down some of the memorable people I have met for each job and what makes them stand out. It dawned on me that I get the most diverse characters from this source.

Imagination plays a great role in my writing life. If I am writing a story, I have to imagine it first before I begin writing. It is not hard, since whenever I read, I create the scenes, the places, and the characters in my imagination—no matter if it is in the Renaissance era in a far-flung planet, for example. The main difference of writing from reading is that with reading, I can just imagine but not create. But when I write, I not only imagine, I also create! I also find that writing from my imagination is a really superb exercise to improve my writing holistically. I am not alone with this — check out this video.

To grease the writing engines, I start inventing a new world, complete with the place, time, and feel. It does not have to be completely foreign to me, but it is quite entertaining creating a fictional place from scratch.

I cannot say that I get more inspiration from my experiences or my imagination. It is a good blend of both.

How about you? What inspires you to write?