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Writing Inspired by a Digital Camera

How to Use a Digital Camera to Inspire Writing

I have often been stuck for a writing prompt. Some days, the words would not come.
I suppose it is the same with everyone, and like me, each of us tries to find inspiration in the things around us. This is where I find that my gallery of photographs taken by my Olympus digital camera handy.
Whenever I am traveling, or even going out of the house, my digital camera goes with me. And sometimes when something around the house or the view from my windows catches my eye, out comes the camera. The resulting pictures go into a CD.

They stay there, and on days when I do not know what to write about, I browse through my gallery and pick out the pictures that make me look twice. Take the picture below, for example:

It was taken on a trip to a museum in Malacca, Malaysia. The ornate beauty and the time taken to decorate a functional item like a ceiling fan was so emblematic of the unique atmosphere of Melacca, a quaint little historical town, quiet, laid back, almost sleep-inducing.

And from there on, I wrote a short story about a lonely old man in a small town whose life consists of chatting with his aged friends, good food, waiting for the yearly visits of his children and grandchildren, and a passion for collecting knives with ornate handles. He takes his time about everything he does, and the story is a contrast between the jet-setting life of his offspring, and his own attitude of taking each day as it comes, enjoying it, and giving it his best.

So to trigger off your writing inspirations from a digital camera, you need to:

  • Carry your digital camera with you wherever you are.
  • Snap things that catch your eye, and make a mental note of why you liked the thing before you enough to shoot it.
  • Save your snaps on a CD
  • When stuck for an idea, insert the CD, and browse through the pictures, trying to recapture the emotions you felt while taking the picture.
  • Let those emotions trigger images and associations and write those down.
  • Make a mind-map with them, if you like, because it is an ideal brainstorming device.
  • Flesh out the ideas that emerge into your writing, and voila, you have a story!
Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Damyanti says:

    Thanks, scribbler, for dropping by and the comment. I did check out your scribbles…awesome!

  • Damyanti says:

    Booklady, I am glad you like the idea, and thanks for your comment:)

  • Damyanti says:

    Paul, thanks for stopping by and the comment. I have been away for a long while, and it is nice to see you were here when I was not:)

  • Scribbler says:

    Hey!!! Kudos!!!

    An awesome blog. And a very kewl write. Well, I do this more often.

    Chk this out

    The inspiration is derived and converged into my blog.

    Gr8 job! Will be back for more.

    keep it rollin;)

  • booklady says:

    This is a great idea! I often take pictures to illustrate what I’m writing about, but rarely the other way around. Thanks!

  • Paul says:

    Stories born from photos. There’s so much material at hand. And that’s a fine snap of the ceiling fan. Good eye! Until I looked more closely, I mistook it for a very ornate door handle; so, not only is it a story idea, but it’s also a great idea for a condo upgrade 🙂 In this post I enjoy your encouraging message that we should seldom be without ideas.

  • Damyanti says:

    Myla, I went over to your blog, and some of the pictures you have on there already bring me some story ideas…lovely work.

  • Damyanti says:

    eamon, I am glad you like the story idea. Someday I will post the final result.

    Is there any place I can visit your blog?

  • Myla says:

    I love my digital camera and I never leave home without it. It is amazing the cool shots you can get when you are on the fly. I am working on putting all of my photography on this photo blog my.LA

  • eamon.mack says:

    Thanks again. I particularly love the idea you had for the story, contrasting the old man’s simple life with that of his children.

  • Damyanti says:

    Thanks, Nalini, for dropping by, and for your insightful comment:).

    I am glad you agree, I for one love both photography and writing!

    Hope to see you here often.

  • Nalini says:

    I couldn’t have agreed more. Life is really precious to let it pass by without its beautiful moments being captured. And what better way then on a camera.

    Creativity in any form-be it painting, sculpturing, photography or to that matter even writing are results of their inspiration. I can vouch for that, because I am constantly looking for various inspirations to create the mood for writing.

    Photographs in a way let you visualize and delve deeper into the world of imagination where in begins the journey of writing.