I once had to make small talk (aka torture) with a woman who I had not met before. On the surface, she and I were very different; she was impeccably elegant and poised, I was my usual roughly put together bundle of anxiety, but, as we talked we found common ground. We both had children, we both worked, we both loved York and the opportunities it afforded us.

Then she asked me what I did for work, and I said, ‘I’m a writer!’ and she looked at me as though I had just grown another head. ‘Oh, I could never do that,’ she said. ‘I have absolutely no imagination.’ Suddenly, I faced her across a void of infinite proportions. What did she mean, she had no imagination? How…what?

It’s incomprehensible to me, that other people don’t have brains that work like mine. A thousand browser windows open at once, and a relentless questioning (why? how?) that is usually answered with a gleeful, ‘Magic!’ or ‘Aliens!’ I love being alone with my brain, it’s endlessly entertaining, I never know what idea it’s going to come up with next. I never mind being kept waiting, or how long a journey takes, as long as I have my brain for company (which I usually do) then all is well with the world.

All this neural activity means that I can sit down and let the ideas pour out my fingers (only when they’re entirely ready, of course) and transmit my ideas via the internet, or the pages of a book or e-reader, to other people. I love being able to do that; being able to make other people as excited about a subject as I am myself. It’s a gift, in every sense of the word.

But I understand that not everyone has this natural ability, that for some people finding ideas is hard. Either they’ve never done it, or they haven’t done it for so long that they’re out of practice. I also worry, a lot, that all the creativity is being taught out of children via our school system and the obsession this government has with SATS and results and measuring things that really, truly, cannot be measured.

Faced with this problem, I (of course) had lots of ideas. I disregarded the ones involving magic and aliens, and concentrated on the more practical ones. So, coming soon, will be a series of posts about writing starting with the most basic building block – finding something to write about.

Watch this space 🙂


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