Wyl Menmuir writes novels and short stories. His first novel The Many was long-listed for the ManBooker Prize 2016 – one of the most prestigious writing prizes in the world. In this video, he shares his top three tips on how to find your writing inspiration.
One of the most common pieces of writing advice that you’ll hear is to ‘write about what you know’. Other writers will advise you to ‘write what you don’t know’.
For me it’s more important to write about what you care about.
If you care about it, you’ll be more likely to finish. More likely to put in the effort it’s going to take to make it a great story – more likely to grab your reader’s attention.
If you’re writing a novel, you’re in it for the long haul and sticking with something you care about is so much easier than sticking with something you think you should care about.
My novel The Many came from one experience that I cared about enough to spend several years with it.
Now, I know where I don’t get my ideas and that’s sat at my desk – that’s where I go to type up.
I tend to use what’s around me.
I live in Cornwall in the UK and in my novel, I used the places that were on my doorstep for my research – the small fishing villages around the coast.
“Sticking with something you care about is so much easier than sticking with something you think you should care about” – Wyl Menmuir
I’d head out and make loads of notes. I’d take photographs and I’d talk to people. I gathered a mass of material that I could use. I wasn’t really thinking of the story at that point but it helped me to get my setting, inspiration for my characters – small events that would make it into the final manuscript.
The more notes I have the more material I have to work with – so don’t give into the temptation of staring at the screen until the ideas come to you.
Read how Wyl Menmuir used an early prototype of Prolifiko, then called Write Track, to monitor the progress of his first novel The Many. There’s a great data visualization of his process in The Guardian and here’s what we can all learn from his experience.
My final piece of advice to get writing inspiration is not to take things too seriously.
“Don’t give into the temptation of staring at the screen until the ideas come to you” – Wyl Menmuir
It’s easy to become overly serious about what you are writing. I’m as guilty as that as anyone – but when you’re playful, when you’re open to listening to the stories around you and to the experiences you have already had it seems to me to be whole lot easier to find that one moment of inspiration that you need: that one idea, the one theme or the one event that will be central to your story.
So, to sum up. Find the thing that you care about. Get away from your desk for research and don’t take yourself too seriously.
Good luck with whatever you are writing.
Check out Wyl’s other two videos: