#IWSG: Finding Inspiration in Prompts and the Oddities of Life

woman sitting on ottoman in front of three paintings

It’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day! For those who don’t know, IWSG day is a time when we writers gather together on the first Wednesday of the month to share our goals, our insecurities, our successes, and our fears and offer a word of encouragement to others who may be struggling.

Participants can answer the question of the month or be inspired to post anything related to writing insecurities and triumphs.

I’m fresh off hiatus and fresh off the A to Z Challenge. Apologies for my absence last month, I was busy recounting my days in Egypt. If you missed that series, you should definitely check it out here. I don’t often post about my travels, but when I do, I promise to make sure you feel like you were there!

Now on to today’s IWSG question, brought to you by Joylene Nowell Butler, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Meka James, Victoria Marie Lees, and M Louise Barbour.

May 3 question – When you are working on a story, what inspires you?

Nortina’s Writing Inspiration Well is all about finding inspiration for a story in just about anything.

In my early days of blogging, I participated in a lot of flash fiction prompt challenges. I had a challenge for nearly every day of the week: Sunday Photo Fiction, Monday’s Finish the Story, Friday Fictioneers, and Lyrical Fiction Friday just to name a few. As the names of these challenges suggest, the prompts ranged from photos to opening lines to song lyrics, and they inspired so many stories! They also helped me to find a blogging community of like-minded writers and to sharpen my flash fiction writing skills. Before blogging, I’d never written flash fiction. Now, that’s all I write!

[A slight hindrance in my novel writing aspirations, as I can’t seem to get past the first scene in chapter one, but that’s a post for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day.]

Although I’m not an active participant in these challenges anymore (too many challenges led to burnout), I still enjoy using prompts to inspire my fiction. I post daily Morning Inspiration prompts, which I occasionally use to inspire a story. The prompts are generally random—a word or phrase or thought that popped into my head, something I heard on television, a feeling evoked by a song lyric or experience. Occasionally, in an ironic reversal, I already have a story in mind, and I use it to inspire the Morning Inspiration prompt post for other bloggers who might need a little inspiration.

woman sitting on embankment and drawing in sketch book
Photo by Michael Burrows on Pexels.com

So other than prompts, where else do I find inspiration for my stories?

Well, are you familiar with the saying “Truth is stranger than fiction”? It is absolutely correct. The majority of my stories are inspired by real events.

Take for example the story I posted today for StoryADay May about a really awkward conversation I had with a man who I thought at one point had an interest in me… Now, I’m wondering if he actually despises me, because how do you act like you don’t want to talk to someone whom you contacted first??

You can’t make this stuff up, man.

This isn’t to say that all of my fictional stories are veiled memoirs. Even though they are inspired by real life, 99.99% is still totally fiction.

[I can’t have the cops busting down my door after reading the Buried series and thinking that I had anything to do with any recent unsolved suitcase killings. My only crime is that I may have one or two exes who could be capable of murder, which is why they are exes and also why I am terrified of them—I do not respond to those “Hello, stranger” texts.]

I wonder if this is why God allows such strange things to happen in my life or allows me to make such piss-poor decisions, especially in the dating realm, because He knows it will only feed my creativity and make me a better writer. And maybe in my writing, He hopes I will learn something—like when to recognize red flags or when to say, “Leave me alone!”

But then, if I said that, where would I get my stories?

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