Tuesday April 10, 2018 ~ The Letter I
This month, I write about being a writer, alphabetically.
I’ve written nonfiction, short stories, and poetry. My media has included everything from keyboard to fountain pen to crayon. And yes, I’m working on a novel.
Please join me each day as I explore this craft and career of playing with words as I participate in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2018.
The Letter I
I’ve been writing on a few key words each day. Today, I’m limiting my post to just one, Inspiration. You all know we could discuss aspects of inspiration for days. I’ll try be reasonably brief.
Where does inspiration come from? Can you intentionally find inspiration? How do we keep from losing that perfect idea, image, word combination? Put a few writers in a room and ask them to discuss inspiration and you’ll witness unabated animated conversation. Inspiration drives our craft, doesn’t it?
So, what inspires you? Memories and senses, thoughts and experiences all feed into our creative process. You know that song that brings you back to your teen years? Pleasant nostalgia or buried pain, either way, there may be the seed of story in there. Our memories and experiences make us the individuals that we are, and that reflects in what we create. Our outlook is shaped by our past, and that seeps into our stories. Scents and sights, flavors and sounds can trigger a scene. Inspiration attacks unexpectedly and sometimes inconveniently.
Sometimes inspiration is stubbornly elusive. How do we get the ideas flowing? Wake up, Muse! A change of scenery may do the trick. Or people watching – one of the few positive aspects of being stuck at an airport or train station for longer than you’d like. How about some music? Or a conversation about something back in the day. Read a book, review some conference notes, check out the podcast of your favorite writer.
We could trying too hard. When I give up in exasperation and go dig in my garden or attack the laundry pile start cooking dinner, ideas sometimes just start popping into my head. My experience, and actual studies by people smarter than me have shown that mundane, repetitive tasks free our brains to wander into creative territory. Plus the laundry gets folded.
Often that too-good-to-ingnore idea isn’t even related to what you’re working on at the moment. Unless we can stop what we’re doing and get to our keyboards, that idea is going to get lost. What do you do with it? We’ve heard it before, but only because its so true – find a way to record it! The most common methods are to carry a notebook, always. Or use your phone to save some words, or record a thought, or take a picture. I text myself a message, so I won’t forget.
Those ideas aren’t worth a thing if you can’t find them later. I try to put them all in one place, so when I need a nudge, I know where to look. Because there is nothing worse than knowing the perfect phrase was jotted down somewhere, but you can’t remember where. Take a few minutes to set up a system that works for you. You’ll thank yourself later.
Tomorrow, the letter J …