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Saturday, 2 April 2011

Just-a-walking the dog.

Where do ideas come from? It's a topic that always comes up when doing a school visit or an author talk. One of my answers being, when I'm walking the dog - and I know I'm not alone in this. Writer, David Calcutt told me that whatever writing dilemma he's trying to work through, he's usually got a solution by the time he's come back from walking his dog.

Today, my dog-share dog, Lola (she's my daughter's dog really) and I went for our regular walk to the park. I was thinking that I needed to come up with a short story for the Coventry Writers Group Short Story competition which the group are organising, with the deadline just a month away. The aim is to publish the entries as an ebook anthology and as a print-on-demand book - the theme being Coventry Tales.

Considering I've just has my non-fiction book, Children's History of Coventry published and my latest fictional book for young readers is set in Coventry, I had no excuse for not having a go at a 'Coventry Tale' for the competition.

Setting out from home with Lola I hadn't a clue what my story was going to be about. Halfway to the park a little spark of an idea began to flicker. By the time we'd reached the park I'd got the opening line, the main character and the last para. Throwing the ball for Lola I could see my character talking. I know her name and her age, and I know how she's feeling as she tells this tale.

The interruption from a gorgeous, bounding, floppy-eared Spaniel who wanted to play with Lola stemmed the flow for a while, but that didn't matter. I'd got my idea - that spark which provides the excitement needed to start writing. Maybe some expert might be able to explain how simple physical exercise or activity can unlock the creative side of the brain but I've no intention of looking any deeper into how it works. For me, just-a-walking the dog is the perfect solution for when you need to come up with a new idea. And as for Lola, there was a nice tasty treat for her when we got back home.

I wonder what methods other writers rely on when searching for an idea?


  1. Ann, I'm very much like you in this respect - walking often does the trick, though sadly I don't have a dog. Inspiration sometimes strikes during mundane tasks, too, like hoovering or cleaning the microwave!

  2. Great writing! I want you to follow up to this topic!?!