I have just finished a fantastic book by an Australian Author, Hannah Kent called Burial Rites. It is so different from the fiction that I usually read and it got me thinking about inspiration. I have heard lots of artists of all mediums talk about inspiration. Where it comes from? Where it leads them? Then where it vanishes to?
Artists, writers, playwrights, dancers, composers, musician– all creatives, talk about how they find their inspiration for a specific piece or artistic work. It’s like you cannot be creative without that sensitive and fragile creature, you can’t catch inspiration – unfortunately, but you hope it will stay with you for a time.
I often wonder what I will write about when my inspiration vanishes. Up to this point I haven’t had a problem with being inspired. I always have an idea – which I furiously scribble down on the notepad by my bed, or on my notes page on my phone. I used to worry a lot about getting to the end of a book and having nothing to write about. That the next book in the series is just going to be reiterating events in the first novel. It hasn’t been so far and I doubt I would write something like that, but I still worry about it.
I worry about ‘what if’s.’ What if I never have a good idea ever again? What if every story I write sucks and I never write anything ever again? Then I remember to trust myself. Trust that I am a good writer and that I can hunt out ideas without inspiration. I have an imagination. I can go and find inspiration and besides, who said ideas had to be good? Ideas can be bad. They can be terrible, just as long as you’re having them. A bad idea can lead you into a good one. It will force you to think of something better. I’m talking about not waiting for that epiphany or spark of inspiration to hit you magically. I’m talking about sticking your head down and writing about everything you can think of, read everything you can, see if that idea (good or bad) leads to something else, something better. Get out and observe people, talk to people in the field you want to write about. Take down interesting stories, myths and legends. Do not sit and wonder why inspiration hasn’t knocked on your door today. Get out into the world and inspire yourself.
I often have an idea while I’m writing something completely different. I got the idea for a fantasy trilogy while I was chipping away at a piece of Women’s fiction – I just started off on a tangent. I ended up writing a scene from the middle of the fantasy book. That little tangent and scene led to a full story.
I suppose that could be called inspiration, but the difference is I wasn’t sitting there waiting for it to hit me. I was working hard and I got a new and fantastic idea. I can’t say I was inspired but I certainly was surprised. I also got a great idea for a short story when I passed a man with a tattoo of reptile scales down one arm. That small detail turned into a coming of age story about two teenagers who live in a circus and can be found here. Totally random, but a feel good piece that makes me smile when I read it.
Sure I get inspired. But I don’t let a lack of inspiration stop me from putting words on paper.
I’d love to hear about the strangest thing that has inspired you to create.
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