Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

November 28, 2011

Writers' Corner: Finding the inspiration to write

Mineral Wells Index

By Gerald Warfield | Special to the Index

Writers need inspiration.  Inspiration is not the same thing as a good idea.  Inspiration is more like a frame of mind where it’s possible to come up with good ideas—and then having the motivation to follow through on them.

Jack London, the great American writer of the early twentieth century, said “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”  What he meant was that you have to actively put yourself in a situation where inspiration is possible.  In fact, inspiration is a by-product of that situation, be it within nature, contemplation, a dream, whatever.

The out-of-doors brings inspiration to many.  Chris Hunnewell, a new member of the Brazos Writers’ Group, says “I take a walk around my neighborhood, making sure to swing my arms. Usually by the time I get back I’m recharged to jump the hump.”

I, too, find that nature helps.  The duck pond in Woodland Park Cemetery is one of my favorite places.  The flat, placid water in contrast to the trees yields a kind of perspective that is conducive to writing.  But last time I went, I found four boys fishing.  Their presence was so distracting that I thought I couldn’t write until I realized that my poem was to be about them.  Nature’s inspiration can have the added bonus of surprise.

Others can find inspiration in mundane activities.  Lauri Mays, another member of the Brazos Writers Group, says “Ideas come to me when I’m engaged in a mindless activity or on auto pilot… Driving, vacuuming, or running water while I’m washing dishes sends my mind chasing after my characters.”

Troy Stone, a local writer who writes a poem a day (that’s a lot of poems), takes the broad view.  “Inspiration comes from reflection on a day’s happenings, events, even dreams.”   For him, it is quiet time that elicits the desire to write.

So what’s the answer on getting inspiration?  James Chartrand, who blogs extensively about writing, says “Achieving inspiration means forgetting about it completely.  Instead of seeking it out, we need to disconnect from the quest… Take a break.  Go for a walk.  Read a book.  Play music.  Give your brain something else to do… Let inspiration sneak up on its own until it leaps out in a sudden burst of idea.”

I agree.   Inspiration, just like happiness, is the byproduct of something else.  It’s peculiarly resistant to a frontal attack but loves to catch you unaware.

If you write and want to improve your craft, consider joining the Brazos Writers Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Boyce Ditto Public Library.  For more information, call the library or Gerald Warfield at (940) 327-8789.

Gerald is an award-winning writer of fantasy and science fiction. See his website at www.geraldwarfield.com.