Three Points of Inspiration

I have to stop and ponder three things that motivate my writing. It’s like digging past the fuel and fire of prose to that first pin-prick of a blue idea spark. Might as well look at the evening sky and asking which star is lighting up the night. The best I can do is offer a few of the things that started projects for me.

1. Getting It Wrong

Misunderstandings happen all the time. Sometimes the misunderstanding is more entertaining than whatever the original intention was.

I love music. Really, who doesn’t? I love music, but I’m terrible at song lyrics. There’s a fifty-fifty chance I’ve got them wrong. In one particular case, I got them way wrong. The thing was, once I discovered the correct lyrics, I liked mine better.

You won’t ever hear me sing my version out loud. Well, not anymore. However that misquoted lyric did become the basis of short story. I told you I liked my version better. You didn’t expect me to let it go to waste, did you?

2. Driving

I find driving brings me close to a state of zen. Well, maybe not during rush hour, but most other times. It works in two stages.

The first stage involves getting past whatever current emotional state I’m in. I do this by selecting the proper music or news, obeying all traffic laws (ahem), and entering the flow of traffic. Eventually my mind evens out. Depending on the mood it could take a few miles or a few hours.

The next stage is important. Turn off the radio. All you should hear is the sound your tires on the road and your own breath. Then I let my mind does what it does best. Alone with my own thoughts can be scary, but also makes for good storytelling.

I like to use this method of inspiration while wading through the murky middle of a work in progress. I helps iron out the kinks and often shows the light at the end of the tunnel for me.

3.  Other Creative Minds

When I’m surrounded by other creative types, inspiration sparks fly. Seriously, flint get jealous. Whether it’s a critique with fellow authors or room full of musicians jamming a tune made up on the spot, the ideas just come.

2009-01-30 neil gaiman's buttons trailer twitt...

Image by .guilty via Flickr

In these instances it’s a matter of how fast you can get the thoughts to paper before they’re lost to the ether. I’m considering a pocket notebook for those occasions. After seeing a live streamed event with Neil Gaiman in the middle of a party, scribbling in his little notebook, I don’t think I’d feel that self-conscious about it.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Inspiration is everywhere. I believe it.

It’s what you bring to the inspiration that matters. The fuel you use to harness that tiny spark makes all the difference. That spark could ignite a raging bonfire to light up the night. The same spark could also start a blow torch used to cut and shape metal.

What are some of the odd places you garner inspiration from? And once you get that inspiration, what do you do with it?