FWIS: inspiration

FWIS (from where i stand) is a monthly feature i’m doing with jessica corra and bria quinlan. all three of us are YA writers in different places in our journeys. (check out their links for this month’s FWIS from their points of view.)

today’s topic: inspiration

muses. light bulbs. facts. fiction. imagination. voices in your head. characters taking over your brain. sparks. licenses plates. conversations. tv shows. dreams. nightmares. myths. monsters. where does inspiration come from?

(despite the fact i chose this topic, it’s actually an uncomfortable question for me.)

i’m not one of those people who can’t quiet the voices in their head nor do i have one shiny idea after another begging me to write it nor do i just sit back and let the characters do all the work, and frankly, sometimes it frightens me that i don’t have an endless supply of stories to tell or characters yelling at me because all the other writers i know do.

i’m more like one of these people.

my first MS was based on a perception i had of myself growing up. my second MS (current WIP) has a familiar fairytale foundation. i don’t yet know what my third MS will cover because i haven’t had anything particularly interesting cross my mind, not to mention the work involved with writing has felt heavy lately because the words, characters, and ideas aren’t revealing themselves to me.

i know i’m not supposed to wait for lightning to strike because, well, not only would that fry my computer, it would short circuit my brain.

instead, i need to work with what i have: take charge, grab hold of that tiniest grain of an idea, place it in my brain, let it roll around in there, pulsing and polishing and pearlizing, and then write it out. it’s not the usual method of doing things, but then again, what is the usual method? does it always have to look like this?

or is it okay to look like this?

do you do anything differently than everyone else? do you walk backwards to work? do you talk in pig latin? are you short when everyone is tall? are you hot when everyone is cold? do you laugh instead of cry? do you drink tea instead of coffee? do you have a flip cell phone? do you wear sunglasses at night?

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12 Responses to “FWIS: inspiration”

  1. 1 Story A Week Says:

    I think the term “dry” describes that feeling better for me. In my dry times I tend to walk around more open to the world, hoping something will begin to flow in. I keep my eyes open a little wider. I view my life as a story and try to find the most interesting parts. And if all else fails, I just throw a big fit.

    • abby mumford Says:

      now there’s an option i have yet to try — throw a temper tantrum. i’ve been told i was pretty good at it in my 2yo stage. maybe it’s time for me to fling myself on the floor and flail around. let’s hope inspiration knocks me over the head (and tells me to stop acting like a child!)

      but your other point about being open to the world is extremely valid. it’s okay to look at the outside world for inspiration instead of always thinking it has to come from inside.

      thanks for commenting and getting my brain waves moving!

  2. LindaG. Says:

    Is it bad to say I don’t care how anyone else does it? That I’m only concerned with what works for me? Hmm. That sounds rather un-empathetic of me, doesn’t it?

    The thing is, everyone need to find the best…well, procedure, I guess…for him/herself. Through trial and error. At least, that’s what I did. You can try on the writing methods of writers you admire, and if you’re lucky one will work for you, too. Or maybe a mash-up of several.

    The important thing to realize is, there is no “wrong” way to write. The result is all that matters. Because, frankly, most readers don’t care how you did it, as long as they like the story.

    • abby mumford Says:

      if you could bottle up that self-confidence and share it with me, i’d be a happy girl. and i think that might be the crux of my inspiration problem. i’m too concerned with how others do it to really focus on how *i* work.

      inspiration requires a certain self indulgence and i think it’s time i indulged.

      • LindaG. Says:

        “inspiration requires a certain self indulgence and i think it’s time i indulged.”

        YES!! Do it. :)

        • briaq Says:

          HA! That probably sums up my FWIS this month. The small quiet moments and dwelling in them. I fear we all look for constant big AH-HAs instead. I’m learning to use my butterfly net :)

          And Abby, I’m with the last line of the picture: I KNOW YOU CAN

          • abby mumford Says:

            using a butterfly net — that’s what scares me! all those holes in the net where the tiniest ideas could slip through… *breathe in* *breathe out*

            also, thanks re: the last line of your comment!

        • abby mumford Says:

          *salutes linda* yes m’am!

  3. Karla Nellenbach Says:

    hmm…i have to say that i’m kind of in the middle. i don’t have an overabundance of ideas and characters pounding down my door, but i get inspiration every now and again, so its all good :)

    • abby mumford Says:

      oh, you definitely get characters racing around in your brain and chattering in your ear (and yes, i’m a wee bit jealous), but YOU GO GIRL. :)

  4. Adriana Says:

    I got nothing. Inspiration is not only unpredictable, it’s also undefinable :)

    Writing prompts sometimes work for me (for poems, I mean, but I think it’s transferable). 99% of the time they don’t spark anything, but every now and then, something strikes a chord.

    YES YOU CAN!

    • abby mumford Says:

      oooh, i like that statement “Inspiration is not only unpredictable, it’s also undefinable” cause it’s true! maybe that’s been the crux of my problem. i’ve been trying to label an un-label-able product. bad abby.

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