This week, our environmental (certainly by comparison with the devices that formerly heated our house) wood pellet boiler stopped. In classic comic timing, it also stopped just as we started to get frost on the ground. Through insight, or possibly sheer luck, we have a back-up stove which is capable of heating our whole house but with coal. Quickly it was brought into action while we waited until Monday to call the fitters to remedy our problem.
Whilst the whole episode was a pain in the behind, it got my old ticker thinking: How do you keep the writing fire burning? I’m not talking about writer’s block but rather making sure the fuel is there in the back boiler of the mind so that the creative burning processes up front are not starved! How does one ensure an ever ready supply of ideas and situations to colour our minds?
Writing, by its nature, can be such a solitary pursuit. Ideas are often rampaging around our heads while the outside world is blissfully unaware of the turmoil inside. So I tried to distil what it is that supplies the fuel to myself. I have come up with three items, which are by no means the only sources available. They just happen to be the uptakes that I require the most.
1. Observation – Just sitting and watching people. A dangerous pursuit to be sure and one best achieved at a distance. The stories of lives generated in my head by looking at people’s actions without knowing their purpose is like my own personal mine. And its being attacked with charges, not pick-axes! Sometimes I can sit for an hour or two happily telling the story of the blank canvas in front of me. It’s similar to when they made the old cartoons. There were different layers in each frame, one of which was just the character on its own. This is what I see and my mind fills in the background. No doubt it would be a disturbing reveal to the poor subject of my thoughts! Little did they realise they were hiding from the spawn of an ancient demon, summoned by a cult of long and twisted history!
2. Read Real Life – There is nothing weirder than real life. If I think of all the bizzare fictional stories I have read, none compare to the weird happenings we get in real life. So sometimes it is justified to read those trashy tales in either glitzy magazines or the obscure “enquirers”. Often when I come up with an idea that I think is either unique, or just !way out there”, a review of things I have read within the last six months shows where that idea came from. There is nothing new under the sun it seems!
3. New Places – For atmosphere and ambience creativity, you cannot beat a trip to somewhere you have never been. It doesn’t need to be exotic, nor popular. This is because it’s the little details that you pick up and use in another vista that matters. Like cartoonists we build layer upon layer with our locations, each frame drawn from something we have seen, smelt, touched, tasted or heard. Like how even the sea air varies depending on which beach you are on. A little change does you good!
These are my three bags of coal, lumps of wood or pellets to burn. What are yours?
Originally posted 29 November 2014 on Blogspot