Saturday, October 26, 2013


(Note that this, and several posts to follow, were written for a class of beginning writers.  Therefore, I kept things simple.  Unfortunately, I only have about 30 minutes per class, and so the lessons had to be cut accordingly.  This is the first lesson, on inspiration.)

First you need to be aware that inspiration has a mind of its own. Inspiration comes when inspiration wants to. You can't force good work out of nothing.

Second, you can't just sit and wait for inspiration to strike you over the head with a club.

Yes, that might seem a little contradictory. But it's not, actually. Likely, sitting and doing nothing won't give you an idea. However, going after it in a hopeless pursuit won't work either. There is, however, something of a happy medium.

The most important thing you need to remember is not to block inspiration out. That might seem a little strange because attaining that inspiration is what you've been trying to do all this time isn't it? Well, yes, but oddly enough many times we'll overlook promising inspiration just because we're looking for a specific idea we want but just can't quite reach.

Keep your mind open. Anything could be an inspiration - I once was inspired by a simple light far off in the distance at around 8:30, how simple was that?  And not just visible objects. Some things as simple as a sentence, or a random thought. Consider what it could be.  Think about smells, touches, or tastes - any of your senses could offer you inspiration.  I recommend having a document on your computer or a notebook easily accessible to jot down any of these ideas – even if they seem random, radical, and ridiculous. There's promise in just about everything, but you need to keep your mind open to the possibilities.

Examining ideas from other stories could spark an idea too. However, if you do, make sure to give it your own spin for two reasons. One, you don't want to be accused of plagiarism. And two, it usually won't feel like your own story if it's just a compilation of others' work, which would likely lead you to dropping the story.


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