Monday, April 11, 2011

A to Z Challenge: Inspired

It can happen anywhere. At any time.

I could be reading and here the whisper of other voices in our head.

I could be sitting in the atrium of a cinema multiplex and reading upcoming movie titles. One word will stick in my mind, making me wonder what that word means to me.

I could be driving and almost be blinded by the flash of sheer brilliance.

I could even be writing and be shocked to have my words trigger a completely different idea.

It happens. In fact, all of the above have happened to me before.

Inspiration does not work according to my schedule. It just comes and goes as it pleases. That's why I tend to refer to my creativity as a muse, because in my life, it seems to be an entity of its own. Close to me, but never quite under my control.

Sort of like a pet tiger, really.

I love that feeling of inspiration. That sudden rush of pure creation can't be rivaled by any feeling in the world. It's addictive. I write to bring more inspiration. The more I write, the more inspiration comes.

But sometimes, the muse just ups and goes on holiday. My inspiration dries up and with it, my words.

I used to worry about it considerably (ask any of my older bloggy friends). After all. What writer in the middle of a writer's block does not do anything in their power to get out of it?

A lot of people have told me to just keep writing. That whatever I do, I must not stop writing. I gave that I try, but found that it just mires me deeper in the despair of staying stuck in the block. The added panic and pressure really do not help me to get my inspiration back.

So I thought for a long time about my dilemma. Eventually I came to a realization. Not once did inspiration hit me because I told it to. It came when I least expected it. Reading, watching a movie, talking with friends.

Not sitting in front of a blank page and pulling clumps of hair out of my head.

I realize that my mind needs to sort my thoughts into some semblance of order before it can give me some well structured ideas. And to do that, it doesn't let me write anything for that time. When I write, I just add more chaos to my thoughts. So, my muse just doesn't let that happen.

So what do I do now?

I wait. I do other things. Get out there. Find things that might be the final thought that straightens my spaghetti thoughts into something approaching a train of thought. It might take long, yes. But I have found that the more I leave my muse alone, the more she can think up some brilliant flashes of inspiration.

What do you do to get/stay inspired?


  1. Inspiration is rather like that old TV "Saturday Night Live" when they used to say "sock it to me." Inspiration will come and when it does it comes with a bang.
    Wanna buy a duck

  2. I agree! The more you worry about losing the inspirational muse, the more it hides. When I get panic stricken about "muse-loss," the best thing for me is to actually stay away from all thinsg writing related. I read, visit, do the things that relax me, watching movies also helps! Sometimes I've found that even if I just carry on writing he returns (my muse is male!) - I might write absolute rubbish during that time, but eventually I'll find a pearl or two amongst the rubbish and then my confidence comes back.
    Judy (South Africa)

  3. Doubt is the opposite of MUSE. You cannot have two opposing feelings at the same time. Each time you allow the negative thoughts to take over your positive muse goes bye-bye.

  4. Inspiration is great and it can come as a gift, as you say but I think you have to work for it, too. And it's amazing to see how many different ways it has, and how different people work with their inspiration in different ways.
    I wrote today about individuals by the way, probably that's why I ended up with individualistic ways here as well :) Stuck in my mind, eh?
    - andrea

  5. For me, inspiration isn't so sudden and lightning-boltish. It unfurls more slowly and isn't so dramatic. That said, I guess I know when I've lost my enthusiasm. I wait around and think of other things. I trust it'll come back sometime and I don't panic.

  6. Inspiration is a wonderful feeling. I can't name a specific thing that inspires me because it comes at strange moments . . . at the end of a dream, at the hint of a smell, at the sound of a phrase.

    Nice "I" post. Thanks for visiting my H post earlier. I'll be back.

  7. Read. Write. Listen to music. Go for walks.

  8. So funny....I wrote a blog today about Inspiration too! A lot of different things inspire me. . .movies, books, music, billboards, dreams, something someone says. It can come from anywhere. My job is to keep myself atune to the possiblities and be ready when the inspiration arrives.

  9. It's fascinating to learn how everyone reacts differently to the same situation. Great post!

  10. Most anything can inspire me, even something as "simple" as breathing.

  11. I tend to get inspired when writing. Or halfway between sleep and wakefulness :)

  12. Inspiration is everywhere for me. But when I'm in a slump, reading good books and watching good movies and coloring (yes, with crayons and markers in a fun coloring book!) lures inspiration back to me!

  13. My inspiration usually comes as the most inopportune times...when I have nothing available to write with! By the time I get around to writing it down, the thought has vanished! Maybe I should fasten a tablet and pencil to a chain and hang it around my neck, along with my glasses!

  14. I love the pet tiger analogy. ;)

    I've learned the same thing--when I get burned up and dried out after months of frenzied, inspired writing, I have to allow myself a break. There sometimes comes that "but what if it doesn't come back?" but I know by now that it will. Not because I'm forcing it--sometimes, we really do just need a break and some time to NOT write. I've taken a reading break, and I've been reading lots of books the past couple of weeks--and I can already feel the itch to get back to work on my projects starting. For the most part, I'm still ignoring it because it's not intense and I still have a giant stack of books I want to read. ;)

    There are times when I'm still feeling the urge to write and I'm just feeling stuck on the plot--and those times are when I just have to write through the plot block. It's a completely different feeling for me than when I'm just so. worn. out.

  15. I tend not to worry when my mind can't seem to focus on writing. I suspect my brain is processing something, or in dire need of interesting stimuli, so I go do something else.

    I once saw a talk by John Cleese, about creativity, where he talks about 'creating boundaries of time and space', to make 'your tortoise mind come out and play'.

    I love that image: the tortoise, peering from inside its shell, to see if it's safe to come out. Banging at the shell wouldn't lure it out.

  16. I've always wanted a pet tiger. Just sayin' Well, that and my inspiration comes from everywhere...just like Savoir Faire!

  17. Inspiring topic! I don't even question where the ideas come from anymore. Some strange synaptic thing in the brain occurs that makes connections between random things and all of a sudden I've got an idea. It ebbs and flows, though, and that's okay. Good post.

  18. I always say that when I have writer's block I call three hunky men to come and take it away. But that's getting old. I get W.B. when I'm anxious or stressed. I recognize that now so I might as well just not try and write. But when inspiration hits, boy it comes in like lightning and I'm desperate to get back to the keyboard. I can't nurture it, it's too elusive.

  19. Hi Misha. Stopping by to check on how the challenge is going for you. Your doing a great job!

  20. Hi
    I've beaten myself up, in the past, for my low output, short-story wise, wishing I could 'reliably' be inspired more often. However, a friend and fellow writer advised me to just go with the flow, which I did, and acually, I think I get inspired more often now, than I did before :-)
    Great post - identified with it and enjoyed it. Thanks.

  21. So well written! I wish I could write like that.

  22. Love your write in inspiritation. It is hard to force a write. Mine seems to come when I least expect it. I usually go and play with the dog. Though a pet tiger sounds rather fun.
    You are a excellent writer.
    Thank you for stopping by my blog.

  23. I find the more I write, the more flashes of insight I have. I don't worry about writing things down or latching on to an idea when it surfaces, though. I find ideas are like pancake batter: the more I stir them, the worse the result. Whatever's still rattling around in my mind by the time I sit down at my desk, that's what I roll with. The hardest thing about writing as far as I'm concerned is having to actually do it. And editing...ughhhh.

  24. Great post! I found when mine goes on holiday, I need to get out there, do things, watch things, fill my eyes and ears with as much creativity of other people's as possible to add fuel and allow my muse something to feed on. I also force myself to keep writing something - even random doodles as this keeps the pathway clear for my pet tiger when he does come rushing on in again!

  25. Murphy's Law states that my inspiration comes when I'm least prepared to write anything down, so I usually go for walks. :)

  26. Nice post. I love how inspiration can strike at random times, though it is a pain while trying to work on something and getting stuck on what to have happen next.

  27. Sometimes inspiration comes from something powerful like the ocean, other times it can be a gentle breeze...for me it's always from Nature...Thanks for stopping at the Hollow...:)JP

  28. I've been told not to stop writing, either - but now I've got 2 weeks of drivel and crap to edit out...good luck!!

  29. Exactly what you described! I just live! Heck, even cracking open a magazine or book sometimes does the trick.

    Glad you figured out what works for you!

  30. I listen to a lot of music. There are entire albums that evoke a particular emotion for me, even low key, that I can connect with and use in my own writing. That's been my "secret weapon" for years now. :)

  31. Hi Misha,
    Ah yes, today's amazing 'alphabet challenge' is 'I' guess, the letter 'I' :)
    Now then, I get inspired just by observing the wonders of nature and the little things we might otherwise take for granted.
    Misha, you have obviously got a lot of folks who like to interact and are now linked into your site. How inspiring is that?
    Take care, Misha. I shall now return to my shy and humble blog :)

  32. I agree with you! Often my brain needs to veer off for a bit in order for inspiration to creep/blast/ooze/explode in. I do try to write every day, even if it is just my blog, but real inspiration is another matter. I won't say it is ever blocked, because ideas flow from everywhere. But my fingers aren't always aligned with my brain. That's when a break is in order...usually for something chocolate. :)

  33. Inspiration often shows up in the most unlikely places.

  34. love how you compared it to a pet tiger. :)

  35. I know exactly what you mean. I've been asked quite a few times where I get my ideas for blogs, stories, posts, snide remarks, etc. Sure, I have a few topics stashed away like a bunch of magazines in a rack. But, more times than not, I'm inspired by something that just happens to me out of the blue. For example, I wrote a blog about underwear being made in Vietnam when I looked at the washing instructions on my briefs (there was nothing else to read).

  36. Sort of like a pet tiger, really.

    Absolutely. I wrestle with it most times, and emerge bruised and scratched, but in the ned it will do what you want it to do. You have to believe that. Sooner or later, that is :)

  37. I'm sitting in a dry spell myself. Which is poopish because all I can think of is to do more research and hope the solution hits me in the jaw.

  38. Manzanita, inspiration tends to hit me like that too. Sometimes it unfurls like a flower, though, as if one thought triggers another, that triggers another etc.

    Judy, I also love movies. Strangely, my mind gets solid gold ideas if I do something cerebrally challenging like calculus. But I find that the problem is then in actually representing my ideas in words. ^_^ I love that your muse is male. Mine is female because she's a part of me. But I've been finding that one of my male characters from Doorways has been dragging me to the story when I get distracted. :-)

    So true, Em. The moment I get scared of the story, or if I have a nosedive in my emotions, my muse goes bye bye.

    Andrea, that is absolutely true. In fact, I think that there is no one right way in writing. The only thing that is necessarily right for all of us is actually writing. But our methods differ. That's why I try very hard not to preach my ways to my readers. I just say how I do it and hope that someone gets some value out of my experiences. :-)

    Sarah, I also get the unfurling inspiration sometimes, but each thought brings a more dramatic revelation, so in the end it's almost more like a nuclear chain reaction. Just more creative that destructive. ;-P

    Lisa, my inspiration can also come from very strange things. The only one of the things you mentioned that I haven't had was the dream. For some reason I never remember enough of a dream to give me ideas.

    Shelly, all great ways to get the mind going. ^_^

    E.C. you know what they say about great minds? ;-) I agree with you that it's our job to be attuned to things around us so that we can know when our inspiration hits.

    Thanks Anne! I find people's reactions interesting too.

    Bish, that's awesome. I sometimes struggle to find inspiration.

    DUO, I also get hit by inspiration just as I'm waking up. I guess it's because my inner censor wakes up slower than I do. :-)

  39. Laura M, I found that doing something artistic like drawing or coloring brings the calm to my mind that I need to be inspired. ^_^

    Darlene, that happens to me too. It's been so bad that I learned to store it away in my mind for later. Even if I forget now, by the time I need the idea, it tends to pop up again.

    Laura J, that happens to me too. I get floods, then dry spells. I also ignore that niggle in the back of my mind until I don't want to do anything but write. Of course, this current dryish spell I find myself in is at an inopportune time, being as I am 20 days away from my goal deadline.

    K.C. I love the tortoise analogy. :-)

    Samantha, my approach to inspiration definitely hints of Savoir Faire.

    L.G. I also stopped questioning the cause of my inspiration. To me it is merely a question of waiting.

    Lauracea, three hunks can never get old. :-D I also just use my inspiration as it comes. Can't manipulate it.

    Thanks Ciara! How are you getting along?

    Karla, I definitely get inspired now that I don't pressure myself about it. :-)

    Thanks Heli-Mom! :-D

    Bethe, playing with pets can definitely help.

    Elizabeth, I don't believe in writing down ideas either. Anything that is important enough to remember will be stored in my memory for when it's good to go.

    Laura, I like how you think of the things you experience as food for your muse. :-) I only start doodling random ideas when I really want to write but REALLY can't.

    TL it's genius how you manipulate the law!

    Claire, when I get stuck there, I stop and wait for my mind to catch up, because I know now that my ideas stop because my mind is working something out.

    JP, my inspiration also comes in different forms. :-)

    Hehe good luck with the editing, Erica.

    Living is the best way I have to get some inspiration. :-)

    Jeffrey I also listen to music. In fact, I have sound tracks for each of my characters. :-)

    Gary, I feel so blessed that people are coming to my blog. It's an amazing feeling. :-) I will definitely pop by your blog soon.

    Lisa C, I definitely like how you get your mind and fingers aligned. I'm definitely going to eat more chocolate from now on. ;-P

    Same here, Wanda. That's the beauty of it.

    Thanks Mymy. :-D

    Hahaha Al I loved your comment. I also store away thoughts for later. It really helps when my mind needs some fodder for inspiration.

    Damyanti, I get bruised and scratched a few times too, but like you said, there will be a time that that tiger will start purring and letting you tickle its tummy. ;-P

    That's sad to hear, Steph. I hope you get out of it soon!

  40. Very true. I have it happen when I'm driving. I've learned to appreciate the speech to text function on my cell phone to record the thoughts.


  41. Lisa, that's a great way to solve that problem.


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