Two enormous sources of inspiration that you may overlook as a writer are you and your immediate circle of friends and family. Especially when I was younger, I tended to think my family, my hometown, my experiences were strictly ordinary and no one would want to read about them. I looked far outside myself to find writing inspiration in things like 1920’s New York City, Sherlock Holmes, and Scotland. But as I grew older, I realized some aspects of my life were not typical and might interest other people. When I married and started a family, my time to conduct research vanished. So mining my own experiences and those of people I knew well helped me make the most of what time I could snatch out of my day for writing. To find writing inspiration from yourself and your inner circle, ask the questions below.
Where have I been? What places have friends and relatives lived in or visited?
Using a place you know first hand as a setting will save a huge amount of time that would be taken up with research. Even if you have to do some research to flesh out the setting, it’s not as much as you would need to do if you’d never visited the setting before. The next best thing is interviewing friends and relatives for places they’ve lived or visited. I have a cousin who served in Afghanistan. I can easily get an American view of the country by asking him. That interview would give me a jumping off point for additional research.
What jobs have I worked? What jobs have friends and relatives worked?
My teen detective Rae Riley works in a library because I know that business. I don’t have to spend hours learning the duties of a clerk in a library. Her aunt is a writer–I know that job. By using jobs I already know, I provide myself more time for research in other areas. My husband works in the utility industry. If I wanted to write a mystery involving a utility, I wouldn’t have to go far to find an expert to interview. My cousin who served in Afghanistan is an MP. I might have the makings of a thriller if I interviewed him.
What are my hobbies? Hobbies of friends and relatives?
Currently, my hobbies are baking, biking, and hiking. And no, I didn’t pick them because they rhyme or are spelled almost the same way. I’ve also taken riding, cake decorating, scuba, and fencing lessons in the past. My love of horses I gave to Rae’s aunt and uncle. Baking is something her grandmother is known for in their county. My oldest did a 4-H project with alpacas. Those fluffy critters made their way into my novel. My husband recently took up beekeeping. I’d love to figure out how to use the bees as weapons in a murder or attempted murder.
What would I like to learn?
If you have the time to do research, use it wisely and investigate subjects you personally have an interest in. I made Rae an amateur photographer because I’m interested in photography. I find law enforcement fascinating and never tire of learning more about it.
What writing inspiration from yourself and your inner circle have you already used?