Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to Generate Inspiration

Inspiration - that ethereal muse we all need, wish for, dream about (or dream, period). But what about when it escapes you? How do you find something that usually creeps up unbidden, and grasp it?

How do you pursue a seemingly ethereal experience?

Before I answer that question, a disclaimer: What I'm about to tell you is purely my personal experience and advice. If you take it, you only have me to blame. Consider yourself warned.

There are a series of movies I watch which, when taken as units of filmic-currency are little better than so-so. But, they tell a story I adore. The chemistry between the main characters is palpable, and it never fails that every time I watch one or the other, I walk away itching to get to my keyboard and start writing.

Despite their less-than-impressive objective achievement, they inspire me.
So is that it? I just pop in a movie every time I need to be inspired?

No. See, after giving this some serious analysis, I realized something important:

It isn't the movies themselves that inspire. It's the feelings they generate in me.

The truth is, I know if I watch these movies one too many times I'll become inured to the feelings they stir in me. The story will become stale. My attention will wander - and inspiration with it.

The key to finding inspiration isn't in identifying the vehicle. It's in identifying the feelings.

What makes you feel creative? How do you feel before you get that irresistible urge to start writing? Excited? Afraid? Sexual? Happy? Sad?

For me the answer is "sensual". Anything that gives me the romantic shivers, impresses emotional security, or wallows in the love of a good man for a good woman. That's the feeling I want to grasp and hold onto.

That's my inspiration.

So, what am I saying? Simply this:

Take the time to understand yourself. Know what makes you tick - and specifically what makes you want to write. Then keep a constant vigil for anything that fits those criteria.   

When the day comes that you're struggling for impetus, draw on an experience that has helped in the past - or a new one you anticipate will create the same feelings. Don't be distracted by the vehicle. Understand that at your core there is a set of emotions that respond and react to the world around you. And some of those trigger inspiration.


Your turn:  Do you know what feelings inspire you?


  1. I've so been there! (Glad I'm not the only one who turns to movies for inspiration...)

    The feelings that inspire me are: adventure, destiny, sacrifice (of self so that good will prevail), romance (the sort that's usually forbidden by something or other), passion (for good). Not sure if those are feelings or themes...but that's them. :)

  2. Water somehow gives me inspiration. When debating what to do with a manuscript, try taking a shower or lap swimming.

  3. I've definitely been there. When I watch a movie that gives me the butterflies, I NEED to write. It's the mushy part of me that gets me back to the keyboard. <3