This guest post is by C. Hope Clark. Hope is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series from Bell Bridge Books (Lowcountry Bribe, 2012 and Tidewater Murder, 2013 with Palmetto Poison due 2014). She is also founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com and its family of weekly newsletters. You can follow her on Twitter (@hopeclark).
Sitting in the Rain

Photo by Neal Fowler

Writers research like fiends for their magazine features, novels, and how-to books. We often feel the need to travel great distances to get the facts right when we are wending a story. Writers seek grants, chunks of time away from family, vacation time from day jobs, and retreats, thinking where they are, living their routine lives, adds nothing to the spice they seek for a good tale.

However, sometimes we learn how to write better just by going outside and sitting in the rain.

Inspiration Is in the Details

In our writing, we want to get the details perfect. However, that means more than the history, flora or fauna of a place. We can gather great sensory and other details paying attention to the little things that surround us.

Rather than talking about how much rainfall a place receives, speak about the cold, fat drops, the smell of ozone followed by the scent of the loamy mud. That happens right outside your back door, and your readers relate intimately.

As you’re sitting to Sunday dinner, recall the aroma of yeast rolls, the pepper in the turkey gravy, the drip of salad dressing on a great-grandmother’s table cloth, the crooked candle in the Dutch Boy candle holder.

In the doctor’s office, imagine germs on the magazines, note the boredom of the receptionist, the school on the medical diploma hanging in a dusty frame, the swollen feet and rheumy eyes of a weary patient.

The minutiae that you consider to be boring nothingness, holds potential. One of the easiest magazine column sales I ever made came from a landscaper knocking on my door, talking to me like I’d never touched dirt before. I hold a degree in soil science. Entitled “Know Your Client First,” the piece talked about questions a landscaper could ask a potential client before putting his foot in his mouth. This article literally came to my doorstep.

Your Life Is Inspirational

You don’t need faraway places to create good material. Life is wrought with detail that layers fantastic three-dimensional ideas… the sort of phrasing that takes novelist Pat Conroy from school teacher to best-seller phenom, painting stories that coat your mind.

Dave Barry, columnist and humor virtuoso, writes about Christmas shopping, lawn mowing, tornados, and decaf coffee. You have equal access to the same. Many of Stephen King’s stories were derived from personal experiences like the loss of a pet and a snowstorm in a hotel resort.

Stimuli envelope, dance around and tempt you. Your life isn’t too plain to be fodder for some pretty remarkable stuff.

Have you ever gotten inspiration from sitting in the rain?

PRACTICE

Think about this week. And if you aren’t sure if you have anything special to write about, go outside, sit in the rain, and make others feel like they are seated there, too.

Free write about your week, your environment for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to give feedback on a few practices by other writers.

C. Hope Clark
C. Hope Clark
C. Hope Clark. Hope is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series from Bell Bridge Books (Lowcountry Bribe, 2012 and Tidewater Murder, 2013 with Palmetto Poison due 2014). She is also founder and editor of FundsforWriters.com and its family of weekly newsletters. You can follow her on her blog, chopeclark.com or on Twitter (@hopeclark).