Yes; no, I never could; yes but…
When I used to network as a self-employed business writer, I met many people who fell into one of those three categories.
With the Yes people I enjoyed the most immediate connection, finding out what they wrote, the reasons they wrote and what it did for them.
I always asked the No people what stopped them writing. Sometimes beyond the immediate No came a story about why they didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t write. I didn’t make the mistake of challenging them outright that they should and could write, but sometimes was able to slip in a few words that caused them to reconsider.
The yes but people brought out a variety of reasons they‘d love to but didn’t have the time, privacy, inspiration… you fill in the blanks.
To begin with I was very kind to them. Tried to find ways to persuade them. Over time I became more severe in my responses.
‘Oh that’s a shame’ turned over the years into ‘well why don’t you make, time, privacy and create inspiration. Sometimes depending on the person, I quoted Pablo Picasso at them.
‘Inspiration exists but it has to find you working.’
When they got huffy and talked about it being easy for me, full time writer at that time, I told them about my poor marks for essays in school and my long gaps thinking I wasn’t clever enough to write. When I started writing professionally it was an extension of my administrative work where I’d written reports, brochures, and other business material.
Writing is like any other activity, so called creative or not. We can’t expect to run a marathon if our only exercise is a weekly stroll in the park. We can’t expect to write well without going through a similar muscle build up. And to build up writing muscle there’s no alternative to writing.
Don’t know where to start writing factually?
Unpack your shopping, take one item from it and write about it. The reason you bought it; the packaging if it has any; the colour; the taste you expect; where you first bought it; how you’ll cook it if it needs cooking. In short how would you describe it to someone who’d never seen it, didn’t know what it was and needed convincing you’d chosen wisely.
Want to write a story?
Rather than wait for inspiration pick something from your day. An event; a person; a place you’ve visited. What happened while you waited in the doctor’s, the bank queue, the supermarket. Something to spark memory and from there imagination.
Or pick a phrase you heard and interpret it. One saying I used was ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. I wrote a rather macabre story from that. Never heard that phrase before? Interpret it for yourself.
Or how about ‘The scene in the supermarket car park was chaotic.’
You’ll be amazed at how your imagination will fill in the blanks. If it still refuses write factually about a scene you’ve witnessed and at some point it will kick in. Our subconscious minds store more information about our activities than we can ever remember consciously. Out of that treasure house will come your inspiration.
To find it you have ask its help.