Inspiration, a finicky little thing.

Status: I’m nursing a cold, complaining about it a lot, and also missing friends dearly. I feel like once I get better, I should get out more often.

Dear reader, we’re covering inspiration this week. Inspiration is a finicky thing, which can either spur you to work with great enthusiasm, or it can leave you completely cold, with words pouring out of you at the rate of molasses. Inspiration is like luck’s cousin twice removed. Both however, notoriously hard to pin.

Inspiration is a great way to start your story. The best stories, for me that is, are those that come with that blast of ‘aha!’. Inspiration can come in the form of an idea, or in the form of a movie. Or it may present itself in a character that must tell an idea, or it may simply be a line. In each case, it is essential for me to strike while the iron is hot. If it is a long story, it is important to define the boundaries of the idea and write it down, and write things about that story that will keep me interested in it. What twist, what revelation will make me want to keep going? If it is a short story, I better form the tone of the story, note it down, and write the first hundred words. And if it is a character, I ask the character what he/she/ze wants me to speak about.

In many ways, inspiration is seizing the moment as it comes, and building from there. Inspiration burns out quickly, and it never stays around long. To say that it does is to me, kind of foolish. Story ideas drift away quickly, and it is important that you make a note for it. Capture that feeling of it. Opportunity presents, you should hit it and pin it down so that even if you are still writing something else, you have it down in writing as it is. Captive till it dies or till you turn your regard upon it.

I am not a firm believer of working when I’m inspired. When I write, it is always tough work, and I never wait around for the words to present themselves. I go out and hunt them down and drag them kicking and screaming onto the page. Once in a while, a project stalls completely, and I put it aside. But never have I waited for the ‘right moment’, as it were. However, there are small things I do, to get the words flowing. But that’s not really inspiration, isn’t it. It’s motivation.

Inspiration. The first spark, the nascent potential. Where do you find it? For me, it comes to me at the strangest times. I find it best when I’m actively quiet, taming my thoughts and actively not occupying my mind with distractions. It comes to me when I see a picture, or when someone presents me with an idea. It comes to me when I see a word, or I read an article about an issue that I feel strongly about.

But the thing is, inspiration strikes me most when I’m on fire for something. Inspiration hits me when I’m emotional. When I think about something and I think ‘That would be a great idea.’. That’s inspiration. Sometimes, that idea comes strong and hard hitting, with a chilling beauty and irony. Those normally go to my short story series, The Silent Scythe. And other times, they’re absolutely random and whimsical. I don’t know when they strike, but it might be a sentence. It might be a concept. I keep a small notebook that I jot them down in. Because from there, that small seed may birth forth a story that is worth telling.

So, what gets you working? What makes you inspired? For me, it is to read widely, and to think creatively. Thinking is a skill you have to refine. Not everyone thinks creatively, in fact it is hard to cultivate. I surround myself with art, I constantly examine stories and debate with people on them. I tinker around with drawing and photography because they’re avenues for creativity when the words don’t come to me. Helping myself create constantly is a great tool to find inspiration, in the best of ways.

What other things besides writing do you do to be creative? And how do your ideas come to you? Look to that.

With random regards,
Jas.

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