Goodreads asked Guy Haley:

How do you get inspired to write?

Guy Haley Personally, I don't set out to be inspired. Inspiration cannot be mastered, only allowed in. All writing is an organic process - so much so that it can appear to take on a life of its own - an the inspiration part is the most organic and natural.

There's more than one part to a novel. Themes, ideas, plots, characters, setting etc can all come from different places, all need inspiration of their own. The most important two for me (well, at least today) are the story form and the story question, the "What if?".

For the question, something in the world around me will inspire me. It might be something in the news, something I read, something someone tells me. It might be something I have known for years, cast in a new light by circumstance or experience. This then usually provokes a question. How might AI develop from things like smart phones? Will the rich keep on getting richer, and how will the increased automation of the stock market affect that? How might a romantic relationship between an evolving human and AI develop over time?

The form more often comes from a desire to write a particular story, like I wanted to write a Mars book, an SF detective story, and a colony disaster novel. Sometimes the desire comes before the inspiration, sometimes afterwards, sometimes together. The desire to "do" a particular sort of story are themselves inspired, usually by other works of fiction in my case.

It's normal for one element of a novel to sit in my mind for years, until other elements come together to create the complex seed needed to write a story.

You can't make yourself "be inspired", but you can train yourself in ideation, a conscious and subconscious skill to develop ideas. The only way to do that is through creating stories, until it becomes second nature - and that doesn't necessarily entail writing. Read a lot. Daydream. Think on things like: This story I read in the news about colonising Venus, how would that sad man on the train I see every day end up on the mission? How would I cope with it? How would it work? What economic/social/environmental/technological circumstances would make it viable or necessary (I'm serious)? That film I saw, how would I do it better? If I wrote this story, who would it appeal to? Do this often enough, and you'll see stories in everything. For inspiration you have to look to yourself, and to the world.

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more