Sunday, March 24, 2013

Searching for Inspiration

There's a difference between motivation and inspiration.  Motivation is what drives you, what makes you sit your butt in a chair and type out several thousand words each day.  Motivation urges us to get past that critic who hated our work or that editor that ignored us.

Inspiration, on the other hand, helps us create.  It provides us with ideas and sets the table for us to figure out how we can best bring words to life.
(This picture doesn't motivate me, but it does inspire me)
It's a two pronged task as a writer, staying motivated and finding inspiration.  I find inspiration in things both great and small.  It can be in the dreams I have for my children, or it can come from a goat I see attacking a chicken.  Whatever sparks an idea that you can expand on is inspiration.

Like love, you have to be ready for it without looking for it.  When I go looking for inspiration, my level of cynicism goes up, and I rarely find what I want.  Even the few times it happens, the inspiration takes me off on a tangent I didn't want.  However, by being receptive without searching, I find that it can come from the strangest places.  I got inspiration for my first novel, On Freedom's Wings, while sitting in English class over 20 years ago, looking out of the window, and seeing a jet fly overhead.  I remembered thinking, What if that was an alien spacecraft coming to bomb us all?(I know, I'm a dork)

That line of thinking led to my first (admittedly horrible) full length novel.  While watching coverage of the 2004 Presidential Election, I got the first inkling of the idea for the book I'm currently working on.  Each of these times, I drew inspiration from something totally off the beaten path, and it wasn't something I expected.  However, I've also searched for inspiration and come away wildly disappointed each time.

As writers, we have to look at things and always think, what if?  That's how we turn the most bizarre or serene inspiration into a story that people want to hear.  Once that inspiration waters the seed of creativity, we then have to use our personal motivation to craft it into something readable.

What's the most bizarre thing that's ever inspired you?  Do you like for the surreal or the beautiful to start the cycle?


  1. I started thinking about what we'll do someday with all those nuclear missiles we won't need (I assume we won't at least). Anyway, it dawned on me that we might be able to use them to fight aliens...and bang! My novel was born.

    1. All it takes is a spark...or in this case, a nuclear explosion. :-D