Finding Inspiration

I was recently asked the following question in an interview: “Where do you go to find inspiration?” The interviewer sited the habit of Charles Dickens, who would take to the streets of London every day in a five to six mile stroll while looking for source material, which left me with an appealing visual image. I just like the idea of this writer cruising the London streets, his eyes darting hither and yon as he tallied up random impressions. Because I wanted to answer the question to the best of my ability, I pondered it until it hit me: I don’t go anywhere; I simply live my life with my eyes open and allow myself to be influenced. Sometimes the most seemingly inconsequential things can affect me, and by this I mean strike an emotional cord. They typically happen in the blink of an eye yet this doesn’t make them any the less meaningful. What I do is follow the cord once it’s struck and let the impression fully in so I can feel its repercussion.
I think inspiration can’t be sought out because it resides within every human being. And because it resides within, there are moments when it is triggered. Once it is, I think inspiration resonates in such a way that a writer feels compelled to put it into words. Therefore, it is not so much a question of “Where you go to find inspiration,” it’s more like “What do you do once you acknowledge you’re inspired.” As for me , when inspiration is triggered, I grab a pen.

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4 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration

  1. I agree. It may not be unique to writing, but I feel part of the process is putting in the time while simultaneously accepting that “this writing session may not bear fruit”.
    To me inspiration is keeping oneself open and ready to the random moments where something seems interesting to you, whether it’s a snippet of conversation, a picturesque scene, or just the random collision of thoughts in your mind. What’s important is welcoming those moments, and taking the time to both nurture them and write them down for safe keeping.
    For me formal “brainstorming” is browsing through the hodgepodge of large and small ideas that I’ve jotted down, once again just seeing what catches my eye, and building on it.

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    1. Yes, this is a discipline, isn’t it? But one I feel is well worth it. I believe the insights that come to us are well worth recording. They may not be unique to the world, but our way of articulating always is, so these moments are worth recording, and perhaps we can work them in somewhere to one story or another. After all, writers are forever examining what is essentially the human experience. To me, writing is a way of comparing notes. And as for a writing session bearing fruits, well, let’s do away with the idea of a time-frame, shall we? I’ll give you an example: Once I wrote a poem. I took the beginning of that poem and restructured it in prose for the beginning of a non-fiction narrative, which I entered into The 2013 San Francisco Writer’s Conference’s writing contest. It came in as the runner up. I had said to myself, “If anything happens to this piece, I’ll flesh it out as fiction and write a full-length novel. I did just this, and the novel will be published as Southern fiction by a reputable publishing house in early 2018. I call this fruit! And yet it took a long time for it to bear! Thanks for commenting, Adam. So very nice to meet you! I’ve enjoyed the points you’ve succinctly and astutely contributed, and I completely agree!

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      1. Agreed. I believe there is an old saying that no arrow truly goes astray.
        And I often like to take a perspective of “giving myself permission to write poorly”, because everything is a step in the process of eventually creating the thing that lives within the mind.

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  2. Yes. It’s like the zig-zag and round about way of nature that requires the planting, the sun and the rain before the blossom appears. It takes much to bring things into alignment! And giving yourself permission to write poorly is the entire key (if, indeed, it truly is poor, but that’s subjective) because re-writing is where the art comes in. I always do my level best, at least I think so at the time, but have learned how to walk away and revisit with new eyes. Invariably, there is something to adjust!

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