When Inspiration Knocks


Inspiration is a strange thing. It is elusive like smoke or a cloud — and transient too. It comes and goes as it pleases. But when it strikes you, it’s like being punched in the stomach (however it is much more pleasant than that). There’s little explanation as to why it exists and where exactly it comes from. I’d call it a low blow if it wasn’t so fantastic.

Sometimes I liken inspiration to a dream. Perhaps it’s my subconscious processing things (from stories I’ve read and my own experiences) and every once in a while, a nugget of gold drops into my consciousness and I am off and running once again. I don’t know if there is any validity to this. But it seems to make the most sense.

Last weekend, inspiration hit me so hard that it jarred me. Not only do I have a new character, but I also have a title for this new work and a distinct impression of what the cover should look like. I rarely know what a story is called before I begin writing it, so I am ecstatic to have this little bit of foreknowledge of my tale. I don’t have a story yet. But it will come. And now I must figure out how to juggle the story I want to finish and give the new story the time to flourish and grow so that I can write it next.

When people talk about the need to refill your creative reserves, they are not BSing you. It’s a real thing. In physics they say energy must come from somewhere and that you cannot create it out of thin air. Thus, work generates energy. Creativity is like this. You must feed it with your own reading, with conversation, with stories and experiences in the world around you. You cannot be a writer and not exist in the world. It just doesn’t work that way. So get out there and experience the world so you can begin creating your own.When I worked at Hallmark, they called this “creative renewal.” Don’t forget to do this for yourself.

Looking for ways to spark your own creativity? Try one of the following:

  1. Take a walk and try to see a familiar space with new eyes.
  2. Talk your project through with a friend or loved one. They may have a fresh perspective.
  3. Read something new.
  4. Turn off the TV (personally I don’t find TV to be inspiring in the least.)
  5. Turn on some music (preferably without words. I find inspiration in the sounds I hear.)
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