Any writer who has been around for a while is likely to have found a good rhythm for their writing process. Some dive right in, some are meticulous planners, some do a combination. While I’m a bit of both, I’m closer to the planning end that not, which is how this series is happening. I’m a firm believer in a good process and I’m happy when I realize I have one.
With a good process, you gotta start at the beginning right? That, for me, starts with collecting inspiration. As someone who writes mystery novels and will definitely be writing more in the future, inspiration comes from real life a lot of times. Let me tell y’all, people are twisted when it comes to crimes. Part of writing novel is taking some of the sensational things that happen and rooting them in a person or a story that feels at least partly believable. So a lot of my inspiration comes from real life. But where do I find that inspiration?
Especially Facebook. I follow a lot of news organizations, local news, national news, even some international. Crime sells…. or in this case, crime clicks and gets engagement so I see a lot of crazy crimes happen on Facebook. Most of the time this happens on my phone, and it’s so easy to save a link from an article and import it into my favorite app, Notion!
Side note, if you aren’t familiar with Notion it is amazing. It’s a sandbox essentially where you can build out your own productivity system and while there is a learning curve with Notion, once you get it, it will blow your mind.
Now, I use Notion for almost everything. I use it to plan out my week (along with my Happy Planner), I write my blog posts and emails in it, I save recipes to it. I also save my crime articles from Facebook in it.
While I wrote this book before I was using Notion, back when I was writing Bullets and Bylines, it was saving articles into Evernote with tags. As I plotted out the book and I knew I wanted to take a story that happen in real life, I was able to pull up all the articles to read again and make sure I understood all the details so I could make them just a little bit different.
The Cassie Morgan Series has had the main plot set up for a while now, but I can still use this to inspire the subplots or details in the main plot (the main plots were pretty bare with what they needed to include). When it’s time for me to write a new book or a new series, I’ll have all these ideas and inspiration that I can look at to decide what I feel is worth including in a story.
The other place I get most of my inspiration from is my dreams – in fact, I’m going to be working on a project later this year that was developed from a very specific dream that I had last year visiting my parents for Thanksgiving. Not every dream of mine is worthy of a book or a plot line, but I have a dashboard in Notion, separate from this one in the picture above, specific for dreams.
That dashboard features a lot of entries that are written while I’m still half asleep at night because I’m trying to sleep. It’s my digital equivalent of a notepad on my nightstand.
The great thing about inspiration is that you can find inspiration anywhere! The key to using it is remembering it and having a way to collect all that information.