Friday, November 25, 2011

Finding Inspiration

Hi all! Welcome to this year's last installment of GPF. Today I welcome Nutschell to My First Book.

Nutschell (pronounced new-shell and not nut-shell) is a middle grade/ young adult fantasy writer who hails from the Philippines and now lives in sunny Los Angeles. She is an SCBWI-LA Board member, and the founder of the Torrance Children’s Book Writers (which will become the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles starting January, 2012). A Jane-of-all-Trades, Nutschell’s interests include photography, travel, sketching, playing the guitar and drums, playing basketball, badminton, billiards, and singing in the shower. She also practices the Filipino martial art of Escrima, and bakes yummy marshmallow cloud cookies.

Take it away, Nutschell!





As storytellers we are creative by nature. We can build worlds that inspire the imagination, create characters that readers fall in love with, give words to feelings that often go undefined, and weave stories that live on long after we’re gone.

People might think of us as magical beings who can pull stories from thin air and spin them into best-selling novels in three days. But the truth is that we are human beings who live normal lives, and have the same problem with time and money as everyone else.

We write whenever we can, wherever we can—and we also write whatever we can. We dabble in poetry, try our hand essays and screenplays, and fill our notebooks with unfinished novels. 

Sometimes, we encounter the dreaded writer’s block and we run out of things to say. We run out of topics and story ideas, and yet we still continue to write. We make lists just to have something to write. We write notes and letters, type text messages, and tweets all because we can’t stop our fingers from doing what we know we were born to do—write and tell stories. 

In order for our writing to be worth our time, and to be of any importance to the world, however, we must come up with stories that matter not only to us, but to others as well. We have to come up with a story that’s worth writing. 

How do we do this? Where do we get these worthy story ideas? 

The great Judy Blume, at the SCBWI Summer Conference, said, “I write on the day something happens.”

In order to come up with story-worthy ideas, we have to leave the comfort of our desks, break the cycle of our dreary routines, and make something happen. Tasting an exotic new dish, trying out a new scent, listening to music we normally avoid, reading books of different genres, even watching movies made long before our time, are all great ways of inspiring our creative minds.   

Local events happen daily—book signings, street fairs, farmers markets, concerts, lectures, parties, random soccer matches. We can invite friends and family to attend any of these with us. They’ll be happy for a change in scenery, and we might get great ideas just by experiencing something new. 

If there’s nothing going in our neck of the woods, we could create our own event. We can pick up a map of our city and explore areas that seem interesting, or that have some historical significance. We could do an activity we’ve never tried before. A visit to a local psychic might yield some interesting mystery or fantasy story ideas. Going on a hot-air balloon ride, or kayaking might spur an adventure story. Attending a renaissance fairs, wine-tasting events, or taking self-guided tours to a nearby historical site (or even around our neighborhood) might give us ideas for that historical novel we’ve always wanted to write. 

We must always be on the look out for sensory experiences that spark electric ideas. 

Conversations heard on subway rides could become dialogues in our novels, the smell of a stranger’s sour breath, or her sweet perfume might trigger a memory in our minds that turns into a story, someone’s unconscious habit of twiddling her thumbs could become a character’s quirk. 

Story ideas come from all around us. We gather them from our own memories, events we live through, people we meet or see on the streets, books we read, movies and TV shows we watch, or strong emotions we feel. The more we experience, the deeper our well of ideas become.

So go ahead and seize every opportunity to discover the joys of life. Make something happen—then write.

The best way to come up with story-worthy ideas is to live a story-worthy life.

***My special thanks to the wonderful Mish having me here today, and to you all for stopping by to read my ramblings.




Thanks for such a fitting end to GPF 2011, Nutschell.

So... Have you ever given something new a try just to stimulate your muse?

Then I have another question. Have you enjoyed GPF? Think I should let it continue next year?



29 comments:

Rachna Chhabria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachna Chhabria said...

What a lovely post..its full of ideas to help us become more creative. I just loved all the ideas :)
Thanks, Misha for hosting Nutschell.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nutschell is cool!
And sometimes we have to break the norm and go experience a little life for inspiration.

nutschell said...

Awww, thanks Alex! We ninjas are cool by nature, so that means you are, too!

nutschell said...

Thanks for your lovely comments Rachna! And thanks again, Mish for having me here!

KarenG said...

I'm glad to know the right way to pronounce 'nutshell'. I like these tips on getting ideas. Live life and then write about it!

nutschell said...

KarenG,
In schmoozes, people read my nametag and call me "nut-shell" and I always have to correct them :)I'm always impressed whenever people pronounce my name correctly the first time :)

Sophia Chang said...

I of course adore Nutschell because she's my friend! A very tireless worker who is ALL about YA and is SUPER INVOLVED in our L.A. community.

It was great hearing all these things and knowing some of the backstory or real experiences she writes about. It's so true - everybody go out and live!

nutschell said...

Awww Sophia, Thanks!
You know I adore you too! The reason I think your blog is so fun and interesting is because you make it a point to go out and experience a lot of new things--which you then write about. :P

The Golden Eagle said...

I don't think I've ever done something specifically for writing--but I do enjoy trying new things. :)

I love Guest Post Fridays; I look forward to finding out who's posting that week, and the topics are always interesting.

Jean said...

Loved the guest post. So very true. Exactly!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Misha and Nutschell - now it's New'shell .. but where did the name came from - seeing as you're related to the Queen? - I bet few know your name as Ann Windsor ..

Great ideas you've expressed here - and you're an example of what you write - always being out there .. living life to the full. Even visiting England for the peoples, places, ideas and storyline attached to the towns, lanes, houses etc ..

Great post - New'shell! Good to read Misha .. thanks for hosting the Lady Windsor .. cheers Hilary

Sharon Hamilton said...

You did great! Points well taken. Just like and old pro.

We've been friends online for months now, but it's nice to finally "meet" you. Now I know why we connected.

This site is new to me. Great job.

MISH said...

Thanks to Misha for hosting Nu'shell.
Thanks for sharing these excellent points on how to remain inspired.
It's so true - we have to move beyond our comfy little world and seize the moment... the ideas are all around just waiting to be discovered!

Carol Riggs said...

Thanks for having Nutschell inspire us, Misha!! Those are great ways to get connected with events and things that may inspire us. Ideas are literally everywhere!

LynNerdKelley said...

What an inspirational post, Nutschell. I really enjoyed this. And I love this line, "The best way to come up with story-worthy ideas is to live a story-worthy life." You did a great job on this first guest post.

It's so true that as writers we need to experience new things all the time. I finally got up the nerve to go on my first upside down roller coaster ride last week. I had to close my eyes as we started up the loop. Going upside down has always seemed scary. Well, I did it and won't be doing it again! Haha!

Misha, thanks for hosting Nutschell. I say, yes, you should continue your Guest Post Friday!

Anonymous said...

FYI: Nutschell[correctly pronounced as new-shell] IS OF multiracial background:WHITE-ROMANIAN-FILIPINO-SPANISH BLOOD.SHE COMES FROM A LONG LINE OF COMPASSIONATE, COMMUNITY INVOLVED,"JACK OF ALL TRADES" KINDA'WOMEN... SHE IS VERY VERY OPEN MINDED AND IS ALWAYS INTERESTED IN LEARNING NEW IDEAS, DISCOVERING NEW THINGS AND EVOLVING. I AM SO PROUD TO BE ONE OF HER AUNTS......HER GENEROUS HEART IS ALWAYS A WARM WELCOME... 'ATTA GAL....!!

Anonymous said...

FYI: Nutschell[correctly pronounced as new-shell] IS OF multiracial background:WHITE-ROMANIAN-FILIPINO-SPANISH BLOOD.SHE COMES FROM A LONG LINE OF COMPASSIONATE, COMMUNITY INVOLVED,"JACK OF ALL TRADES" KINDA'WOMEN... SHE IS VERY VERY OPEN MINDED AND IS ALWAYS INTERESTED IN LEARNING NEW IDEAS, DISCOVERING NEW THINGS AND EVOLVING. I AM SO PROUD TO BE ONE OF HER AUNTS......HER GENEROUS HEART IS ALWAYS A WARM WELCOME... 'ATTA GAL....!!

Rekha said...

I use real life experiences, people and places watching to create fictional stories. Anything and everything can be an inspiration..rightly said Nutshcell.

Lydia Kang said...

Love her name, as always. Such good advice to always keep an eye out for opportunities to live, and write. :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Fun post.

"In order to come up with story-worthy ideas, we have to leave the comfort of our desks, break the cycle of our dreary routines, and make something happen."

This is SO true! Thanks for reminding me.

M Pax said...

Experiences do make our writing richer. Nice to learn more about you Nutshell.

nutschell said...

@The Golden Eagle: I love trying new things too. It gives me a finer appreciation for life's beauty, and also some wonderful story ideas!

@Jean: Thanks! I loved my first ever guest blog post experience.

@Hilary Melton-Butcher: It's so great to see you here! I always love reading your comments. My trip to England was certainly one of the best experiences of my life, and--it's only made my writing better. If you ever decide to come out to the US, let me know. I'll take you around!

@Sharon Hamilton: Thanks Sharon! Its always a wonderful feeling to connect with fellow writers like yourself. I'm looking forward to your own guest blog post. Let me know when it comes out and I'll be the first to read it :)

@MISH: Yes, thanks Misha for hosting me! Ideas are certainly everywhere. I find they're sprinkled all around just waiting to be plucked like magical fruit. :)

@Carol Riggs: Thanks Carol! I'm looking forward to hearing about your own adventures soon!

@LynNerdKelley: Lynn, thanks ever so much! I love, love, love hearing from you, and I'm so glad your blog is doing so well. :) Oooh Rollercoasters!I've tried those, and I don't really like them. I just scream my head off until I'm hoarse. Kudos to you for facing your fears!

@Anonymous: thanks Tita Ba! I'm sure that's you!

@Rekha: Your poems certainly show a lot of heart, and I think it's because you put a lot of your real life experiences into them. :)

@Lydia Kang: Thanks Lydia! My name is both bane and boon, but I love it nonetheless.

@Donna K. Weaver: I'm always glad to remind people to go out and live life to the fullest. It will surely reflect in their writing.

@M Pax: THanks! It's nice to share a littl bit about myself here as well. :)

Lauren @ Pure Text said...

I love Judy Blume's quote, and I have to agree, I write on the day something happens too, rather than writing "every day," though that approach works for many. I just never put it into words, but I like seeing it spelled out like that.

Speaking of words, I loved this too: "...give words to feelings that often go undefined..." :) As a poet, this is one of my aims.

Great post.

Christina Farley said...

It is so important to leave the daily routines to keep ourselves sparked with creativity. Great points!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I haven't had to try anything new to stimulate the muse. She's always got something to say 24/7. :D

Great post. I'll keep that in mind in case she goes on an extended vacation.

Al said...

I am always going somewhere, but I don't know about trying new things.
I did enjoy the guest posts, keep them up.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I love your ideas to stay creative! I do tend to read a different genre a lot to shake things up a bit.

Julie said...

Great post, Nutschell! I love your suggestions for sparking creativity, I am going to keep some of these ideas in mind when I hit a dry patch. And, I'm so glad to learn how to pronounce your name, what a pretty name you have!

Thanks, Misha, for hosting and sharing Nutschell's post!