Aspiring writers often regard inspiration as something mystical that they can’t influence. It is important for them to know about the real nature of inspiration.
Photo Credit: ahhhnice
The Nature of Inspiration
Inspiration can best be described as a burst of creativity that seemingly comes out of nowhere. It is those random ideas that come to us at the strangest times. That is what it means when inspiration comes to us.
When we are inspired, we are suddenly filled with energy and a form of excitement that can barely be contained. Our story is suddenly clear in front of our inner eye. It feels like we are led by the unconscious, almost as if we are in a dream.
Never wait for Inspiration
I mentioned this topic before, when I talked about writing every day. I want to mention it here again, just because it is so important. Never wait for inspiration to happen. Instead, do anything you can to court it and bring it forth actively.
Sure there are days when you will feel inspired, but those days are only a selected few. You can’t just wait for inspiration, instead you have to get active. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this, is to start writing.
Courting Inspiration by writing
It is not seldom the case, that when you start writing for the day, things start out to be hard. It feels annoying and tedious. You are only able to put down a few sentences or paragraphs in the first half an hour or hour. After this initial time though, you will slowly start to get more and more immersed in your story. It is at this time that ideas start coming to you. You are getting into a creative mood. It is right here, that inspiration can hit you. It won’t happen every day of course, but it will happen more often than you think.
If you want, you can see it as a reward of sorts. By going through the tedious initial phase, you made yourself receptive for new ideas.
General advice on Inspiration
I now want to come to a few general pieces of advice regarding inspiration. These are not so much tips on how to get inspired more easily, but how to get the most out of it.
Always take notes
You will always get random ideas out of nowhere. It is important, that you always have a means of taking notes. It can be a notebook, a piece of paper or you can use your phone. What I highly recommend is to use the app Evernote. You can use it on all of your devices and share your notes between them.
You should write down anything that strikes you as interesting. It can be quotes, snippets of overheard conversation, people or places you see, ideas you get, anything. If you use your phone you can also take pictures of interesting sights.
The worst thing that can happen is that you suddenly get a great idea, but you can’t write it down. Often it is already gone once you are home and sit down to work on your story.
Don’t judge ideas
One thing you should never do is to think about your ideas, judge them or even discard them. Always write all of them down. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous, silly or wrong they seem at the time. Often the ones that are most farfetched turn out to be our best ones. It is the same as when you are writing a first draft, put it all down.
A good way to do this is to us a new page of your notebook or a new text-file for each of your story idea. Now, whenever you get new ideas related to them, you can add them to the individual page or file. If you get a new, unique idea, simply use a new page or create a new file.
These notes are very useful regardless. It doesn’t matter if you ever writing the actual story. You can also use them as a source of inspiration. At times a random line of dialogue or a single still image that you put down month ago, can be the inspiration for a new story.
Quality of influence equals quality of ideas
This is something that not many people think about and that took me a long time to realize. It is a fact, that all our ideas are directly related to what influences us.
Our ideas come from inside of us, from the unconscious. What you need to do is to provide the unconscious with as much unique and different material to work with as possible. If you for example only read pulp novels and hang out with frat boys, you are hard pressed to come up with story ideas that are unique and sophisticated.
That is the reason, why you should try to always find and learn about new and different things. I am not necessarily talking about high culture, sophisticated material or even philosophical ideas. What I mean is simply that you should go out, look at the beauty of the world and enjoy life. It is enough to take a different route home every once in a while or meet some new people.
I also want to reiterate the dangers of the internet in this regard. Nothing good comes from spending all your time inside, in front of the computer and on Social Media, YouTube or Reddit.
Don’t discard your other passions
Even if you want to be a writer and you are hard pressed on finding time to write, you should never discard your other passions completely.
We get our best ideas from the things we enjoy and love the most. It might be your love for dancing, coaching your son’s soccer team or your interest in gardening that inspires you to your next novel.
Great art is born from the connection between writing and the things we love.
Another great thing about you hobbies and passions is that they force you to take some time away from your writing. This can help you clear your mind, recharge your creativity and come up with new and fresh ideas.
In the end, there is not much else to say about inspiration. Never wait for it, but try to bring it forth actively by writing or by going out into the world. Waiting for it is yet another excuse to not getting your writing done.