Wednesday, 5 October 2011

What inspires you to write? Where does your inspiration come from?
My first book, ‘Though the Bud Be Bruised’, is now a finalist in the Caleb Unpublished Manuscript awards. This book, though a work of fiction, is a true story camouflaged within a novel. I didn’t create the story. It really happened. So I wondered, could I write a real novel?
A few months ago, as I was walking, a story began running through my head. The thoughts were triggered by some of the prophetic words I’d read following the earth quake in Japan. My imagination has always been overactive, but I’ve hidden it within me, often quite embarrassed about the crazy escapades my fanciful hero experiences. What would people think if they caught a glimpse of my brain?
That day, I asked myself another question. What if my crazy thoughts were made into a novel? With sudden clarity, I realised there are many novels within me. With confidence, I sat at the keys to release the story, but my characters aren’t clear. Who are they really? What do they look like? What are they called?
Trying to solve this problem, I’ve sat in public places, notepad on my knee, trying to describe people, attempting to reduce their faces to a few powerful words so my reader can see them.
Walking in the early morning is a good time for me to push my story further. As I pass the beauty of the garden and the wonder of the creek and wander through the mini forest which follows the little stream, my characters run beside me, doing battle with each other, the elements, life’s problems and God.
What about you? I’d love to know where your stories and ideas are birthed. How do you bring them forth?
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 Jo Wanmer is an emerging writer, speaker and pastor. She lives in Brisbane with Steve, her husband of 40 years. 


  1. Loved your post Jo! It gave me hope too. I am essentially a non fiction writer although I've written a fair few short stories. However, like you, I think there are lots of novels inside waiting to come out.
    I can read the writer in you - by the way you described everything. So wishing you well. And well done on getting your book shortlisted for the Caleb prize. That's wonderful.
    I find my inspiration in everything around me - this beautiful world that God has created, many little happenings that occur all the time and also in a wild imagination!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hello Jo. Congratulations on your first book becoming a finalist in the Caleb Unpublished Manuscript awards. I wish you success.
    I too am as yet unpublished. My genre seems to have settled into non-fiction, which means that I have to look no further than my own life and experiences for inspiration. This is harder than it sounds though because I aim to 'find spiritual meaning' in those events, and also I want to respect the privacy of family and friends. Quite tricky sometimes!

  3. Good on you, Jo!
    I get story ideas from many sources, ranging from dreams to news articles to others' stories to people I see while I'm walking. I used to get into trouble at school for being a daydreamer which really upset me, because I hated being criticised, but it's good when we figure out ways to turn apparent weaknesses into strengths.
    PS finding the words to express the stirrings of your imagination is part of the challenge and fun, don't you think?

  4. Anything can spark an idea, a photos, a word or line, a dream, a conversation you overhear (i was not eavesdropping i was on a train).
    Now i have not have big things published none of my novels. But the ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. It's just knowing how to use them.
    I use things that i have struggled with or have expeienced in my life to write my stories. but not everything ,so you don't know what is true and what isn't


  5. Jo, you described that little creek so beautifully that I want to visit it. I most definitely draw inspiration from places I have been, and my home. In particular the ocean and the islands, as I grew up on the beachfront and it forms a large part of who I am. I’ll often place a character in a situation I have been in – like being stuck in mangrove mud- just because I know exactly how it feels (and smells – yuck).
    When I started writing the only advice I could recall about the craft was – write what you know – so I did just that. But now I have many other storyline ideas that take me out of that comfort zone. That’s where I really admire historical writers. They have to rely entirely on research and imagination. Congratulations on being a finalist, and thank you for a great blog.

  6. Thanks girls for your encouraging comments and sharing what gives you inspiration. Anusha, I always expected to write non-fiction and I did! It is hidden in fiction and I suspect the novels that are inside us are all based on real life experiences as well!
    Debbie, I understand the challenge of writing real life without compromising people. That's why my book became fiction. I blend characters so they can't be identified! Even then, the book has been difficult to write in a way that brings the truth without identification, accusation or condemnation.
    Rose, I look forward to reading about a character stuck in mangrove mud! Maybe I'll have a character fall into a cattle dip! I never did that, but many times I imagined how revolting it would be! It would have to be a character I didn't like!

  7. C'mon, Jo, let your hero fall into the cattle dip! He'll get loads of sympathy from the heroine.Or maybe she'll be so disgusted she'll stomp off.
    Seriously though, just as you say, all those personal experiences, both good and bad, can really work well in our stories and they'll ring true to our readers.

  8. I can relate Jo. I have all these characters in my head, pushing and shoving to have their stories told. My inspiration comes from many things - something will just trigger an explosion of ideas. Especially dreams - I have great dreams. :)

  9. Congratulations Jo,
    On being a finalist!!!
    Jennifer Ann

  10. Rita, you're right! Maybe the heroine should fall into the dip and the hero jumps into save her? Now that would be true love!!!!
    Amanda! dreams! Most of my dreams are boring. Maybe I should drink red cordial before I go to bed?
    Thanks Jennifer.

  11. I try to get my inspiration (for my writing and also for my cover designing and stuff like that - plus new ideas in general) while I put my kids to bed. I have to sit still and relax and as long as I don't fall asleep too I normally come up with something. Had a great idea the other day, now to find time to write it down!
    Jo - even a story based on a true story is still a real novel. Congrats too :)

  12. Congratulations on your book doing so well, Jo! Such a gorgeous area for you to walk in and get inspired. You have drawn a beautiful picture of it with your words - thank you. Unfortunately, I don't get to write many inspirational stories as my path seems to be pointing to topics that need much scriptural research. Having my nose in books or computer based programs all the time means that my inspiration usually comes from my findings. Not as nice as a lovely walk through nature, but the results are just as rewarding:) By the way, your next book may be the finalist... Best wishes along that path!

  13. Oh, I forgot... Can anyone tell me how that "Read more" function is coded? I like it:)

  14. Thanks Margaret for your comments. Study and reading is always inspiring. I admire those who do so much research.
    The read more function is set by a button on the tool bar near the picture button. It is a square broken with zigzag lines. Place your cursor where you want the break and then hit icon. I use it on my blog but was unsure of it's use here. X

  15. Congratulations Jo. What an exciting time for you! My inspiration comes from history. I love to read about Australian Colonial life and the Victorian Era. Stories leap out of yesterday's newspapers and journals... and I get to chase them down :)

  16. Hi Jo, congrats on finaling!! I find ideas come from everywhere, and I tend to percolate ideas and characters for quite a while before I actually start writing. Usually the initial inspiration evolves into something very different to the original idea :)

  17. Congratulations of being a finalist Jo. And of course a story based on a true story is a real novel! All my stories are based on real people from my past and while not everything I write about them will be true - because historical research can only give you so much to work with - the fictional aspects still come from my understanding of real people and real situations. It's been said 'There's nothing new under the sun' and I believe this is true of novels. As writers we just present truthes in different ways, with different characters. I think a good novel just makes these truthes more evident, provactive and inspiring.

  18. Narelle, I love the word 'percolate' How well that describes the process of writing. It definitely isn't an 'instant' thing!
    Carol, thanks for your comments. I never understood before I began writing that everything is truth really ...
    I learn so much from reading everything you all write. Lee, I appreciate this blog!

  19. Great post Jo, I get my ideas from everywhere - I have too many ideas in my head and not enough time to write them... characters emerge from peoplewatching, melded with people who've crossed my path

  20. Congratulations, Jo, on being a finalist in the unpublished Caleb. How you get your ideas is interesting, and I would love to take a walk down through that mini-forest next to the stream. I like to walk a few k's a day and this certainly bumps the creativity along for me.