Inspiration, creativity and the 9-5

A few years ago, I participated in a writing course.  At the time I was working in family law, and when I told this to the group, one member commented that it must give me an extraordinary amount of source material for my writing.  After all, working in family law, I got to see the very best and the worst of people.  I heard stories of unimaginably horrific and abusive family situations.  I have been exposed to all of the hurt, anger and bitterness that is often the consequence of family breakdown.  I have been moved by incredible courage, strength, positivity in the face of adversity and love.  It definitely sounds like rich pickings for a writer, doesn’t it?

But I have never used my work as a source of inspiration.  Not once. Not even a little bit.

Part of the reason for that is a question of ethics.  People come to me and trust me with intimate details of their lives.  It would feel like a betrayal of that trust if I used their stories as a basis or inspiration for my own.

It’s more than that though.  After all, 99% of the time my writing is just for myself.  The other 1%, I may share it with a small group.  If I am writing something that no one else will ever see, why can I then not use my work to inspire a story?

The problem is that I just don’t feel creative when working.

Until that comment was made, it genuinely never crossed my mind that I could have source of inspiration in my 9-5.  I am a lawyer.  My job is to listen to problems and find solutions.  That is fine – it is the career that I chose for myself and it is one that I like to think I’m good at.  However, it is a challenging job, which can be mentally exhausting and I find it does sap  my creative energy.  I know that this must be down to work, because whenever I have a couple of days off, I can feel it coming back to me – characters and scenarios that I thought long abandoned pop back up and demand my attention.

I need to find a solution to this.

Between the hours of 9am and 5pm, I am a lawyer.  Achieving outcomes for my clients is the most important thing during that time.  However, I need to find a way to switch into creative mode from 5pm and not have to wait for a couple of days off before feeling able to pick up a pen.

My writing challenge.

One of the ways that I try to kick start my writing is using little writing exercises and prompts.  Every now and then I will trawl through the hundreds of books on creative writing on Amazon (which I suspect is just another form of procrastination!) and order something that I think will inspire me.  A few months ago, I purchased “What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers” by Bernays and Painter.  I haven’t yet really made any use of it.

I am going to try to overcome the feeling of a lack of creativity by setting aside 30 minutes each day to get something, anything, down on a page using the writing exercises in this book as a guide.  In that way, much like Pavlov’s dogs, I am going to try to train my brain to switch into creative mode as soon as I leave the office.  To keep me focused on my goal, I will post the results of each exercise into this blog.  There are 83 in total, and I will do one each day (though the results may take longer to appear on here as I do prefer to write by hand).

I’m really looking forward to starting this challenge as I think if I can be disciplined enough to keep it up on stressful days when I’m tired and can’t be bothered, then this could really work for me.

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Posted on August 19, 2013, in My writing, The Blog and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Thanks very much for the pingback:-) That’s not a book I’ve heard of but I look forward to reading what you make of the exercises it offers…good luck with the challenge you’ve set yourself!

    • blankpagesandbooks1

      Hi, Thanks for your comment! I hadn’t heard of the book before either – it just turned up as a recommended read on Amazon so I thought I would give it a go. I chose it because it had a lot of different exercises in it, so hopefully it will be useful for me 🙂

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