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Water-powered Writing

June 17th, 2021

Everyone knows how powerful water can be. We’ve all seen footage of waves crashing against a sea wall and of flash floods causing danger to life. But have you considered how water can be a power for good in your writing?

Writers from Shakespeare through Wordsworth and Virginia Woolf to more modern authors such as Neil Gaiman have been inspired by water in its many forms.

I often visit a local reservoir in my trusty campervan, Vincent – given my surname, my van couldn’t be called anything else! A walk along the lake shore can be peaceful or, on a blustery winter’s day, exhilarating. Yet, whatever the weather, I always come away with something useful for my writing, whether it’s the first draft of a poem, the outline of a short story or just the solution to a plot hole in my current work-in-progress.

Perhaps you have some water nearby that you can visit? A stroll along a riverbank can clear the mind and leave it receptive to new ideas. A canal towpath is fertile ground for the imagination – think of all those people living and working in narrowboats. What are their lives like? How do they earn a living? Perhaps your next story could be set in this world.

If you don’t live near a large body of water, don’t despair. In my day job, solutions to niggling problems would often come to me in the shower. Just make sure you’ve got a waterproof notebook to jot down your thoughts!

I am so convinced of the inspirational power of water that I have built a small water feature in my garden. You don’t need to spend a lot of money – a deep tub can act as a pond but if you can run to the cost of a small solar-powered pump, you can have the sound of running water. There are even kits for indoor waterfalls if you’d like to hear trickling water in your writing space.

More prosaic, and readily available in the British climate, is a walk in the rain using all of your senses. Sounds and smells are so different when it is raining.

Next time you’re stumped for ideas or your writing has hit a brick wall, get yourself close to water and let it work its magic.

 

Pamela Gough is retired and lives in Derbyshire. She divides her time between writing short fiction, looking after her grandsons and tending her vegetable patch. She often finds inspiration for her writing whilst out in her campervan.

She was recently placed third in the Writers Bureau short story competition. She tweets the occasional poem at @pam_gough

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