Today’s article is written by Devin Berglund.
I had a sharp imagination when I was a child—I believe I still do today. But when I was young, my imagination seemed so much more real.
I remember my siblings and I would stay out in the woods for hours on end, as the evening slowly set in. I’m still greatly inspired by nature, and am always looking for new ways to capture the feeling I get when I’m in nature, so I can use it in my writing.
As adults, we live busy lives. But if we are constantly busy, we will miss out on all the story ideas around us. And if we don’t write them down, we do forget them.
Some of us also find ourselves stuck for story ideas because, instead of looking to the world we live in for inspiration, we see the rushed, unromantic lives we’re living.
But it all depends on the point of view. Look at your life through the lens of a camera, and then suddenly things will start to look different.
Have you ever gone on a trip and been amazed by the beauty of your surroundings? Do you wish you still had the sharp imagination you had when you were little? Do you wish there was a way you could keep track of the story ideas you get when you’re on trips, or visiting new places?
Here are a few tips to help you dig deep into that child-like imagination to capture story, character, and setting ideas through photography.
1. Photo Journal
One way to make sure you remember the story ideas you get from nature, or the things around you, is by taking pictures with a camera or your phone. You may or may not want to print the photos later.
If you do choose to print them, sick them into a ‘story photo journal’. Alongside the pictures, write about how the place made you feel, along with setting, characters, histories, and story ideas.
2. Setting Study
If you live in a city and don’t think you can find any inspiration for your story there, take your camera out for a walk. You may surprise yourself.
When you come across areas that inspire a work-in-progress, get detail shots. If you are in a forest that inspires you to write about fairies, be sure to get up-close-and-personal with the grass blades, toadstools, and the bark on the trees. Those detail shots will help you word things better.
And, of course, if you’re able to go wherever your story is set, do so. (You can always use Google Streetview if your setting doesn’t allow for an in-person visit.)
3. Photo Writing Game
Lay printed photos on the ground or table. Take a notebook and pen (your favorite one!) and create a set of photographs.
Go through your photos and pick out eight to start with, and then you can add as you go. Put together a story with your photos. Remember, you can interpret the photos in any way to make your story more interesting.
This is an interesting and exciting way to find new ideas. It’s also a fun way to dig deeper into shallow parts of your story.
I’ll bet you know about (or maybe even use ) the photo-collecting website Pinterest, but have you ever used it for world building?
I have whole folders on there with picture ideas which have inspired characters, settings, and plot in my stories. It’s a simple, but effective way to go on a photo scavenger hunt.
5. Idea Bank
This is a fun one. Take an old coffee container or mason jar and decorate it. Make it your special spot where you store visual ideas (photos you’ve taken and printed, or ones from magazines, newspapers, etc.). When you need an inspirational idea, pull one out and write about it.
Try these tips to jump start your creativity and child-like imagination, and to help you remember your story ideas in new and exciting ways.
Are there any ways in which photography has helped you better grasp feelings, settings, or ideas for your writing?
Devin Berglund is an American writer who is living abroad in Brisbane, Australia. In 2011, she graduated from Minnesota State University of Moorhead with a BA degree in English/Mass Communications and a Certificate in Publishing. Her mind is dancing with enough ideas for a bazillion books, but she is currently working on a YA fantasy series. You can find her at lifewritingwanderlust.com, Twitter and Facebook.