Where does a book begin? As with many things in the natural world, it starts with a seed: the genesis of an idea, a snippet, a thought, a fleeting image. So, how do you first receive, and then keep that elusive inspiration? Here are three simple thoughts for tuning into your inspiration antenna:
1) Make Room for Inspiration
Purposely make room for inspiration. Inspiration can come anytime, but I know from experience that it comes more frequently if you are deliberately seeking it. Making room in your day could mean that you simply commit to being in the moment during your daily activities (see below) or it could mean seeking out certain places or spaces that inspire you. Go to places where you can read, like bookstores and libraries, or places where you can explore and observe like parks, museums, gardens, zoos, etc. Make room in your adult life to do things you used to do as a kid: climbing trees barefooted, riding scooters, making blanket forts, or swimming in the ocean. Some of those things might make you feel silly at first (I get a lot of amused smiles when I ride my daughter’s scooter home from school drop-off) but you’ll get over that. Doing those things will help you remember what it really feels like to be a kid. What sap feels like when it’s cemented to your hands and feet. What the cracks in the sidewalk feel like when you are bumping over them. What it feels like to read or rest in a cozy, makeshift hideout. What salt water tastes like when you get swallowed by a wave. When you make that kind of room, inspiration abounds. So make room in your day, in your brain, and in your heart to be inspired.
2) Stay In the Moment
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, stay in the moment. If you’re at the park, pay attention. What are the kids saying to each other? What kinds of games do they play? Are they fighting with each other? Why? When you’re with your children, grandchildren, or students, play with them. Listen to them. What do they care about? How do they play? What makes them happy? What makes them sad? Pay attention at bedtime, mealtime, story time, playtime. It may require that you put down your phone, or put off the to-do list swirling around your brain, but it will be worth it. Inspiration can come from store trips, story time, vacations, news articles, childhood memories and on and on. But you have to stay in the moment, distraction free, to recognize the fleeting thoughts and images that come and slip away in an instant.
3) Write It Down
Have you ever had a brilliant thought that ran away before you took the time to write it down? Yes? Me too. (Though I can’t vouch for it ACTUALLY being brilliant, since I forgot it, but let’s just assume the best, shall we?). Sometimes the same inspiration will strike twice, but usually in a different way, so write down the things that inspire you NOW, and then you’ll have much more to work with. I keep a “Note” in my Notes app on my phone that serves as a running list of inspirational snippets. These snippets could be a book title, a few words, an intriguing character, a rhyming couplet, or just a general story idea. Sometimes, you’ll feel so inspired that your first thought will transform into a first draft. In that case, stop whatever you’re doing and just WRITE! Unless you’re performing brain surgery or some other life-saving procedure, don’t wait! I once pulled over at a gas station while driving on a 3-hour road trip to write a first draft of a story that was spilling out of my brain. I scribbled my story an old receipt with a stubby pencil. And even though it will never be published, it was the story that started it all for me. So, when that inspiration grabs you, write!
It will take tremendous time and effort to develop those inspirational snippets or first drafts into excellent stories, but the inspiration must come first. So tune in, and get inspired.
Meet the Friday Blogonauts
First Fridays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer , man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
Second Fridays will feature awesome multi-award winning author Marsha Diane Arnold who will be writing about character-driven and/or nature-based books and/or anything she likes :)
Third Fridays will feature independent Aladdin/Simon & Shuster editor Emma Sector who has helped bring many books into the world.
Fourth Fridays will feature the great Christine Taylor-Butler who has published over 70 award-winning fiction and non-fiction and nonfiction books including the acclaimed new middle grade series - The Lost Tribes.
Fifth Fridays will feature the fabulous Carl Angel award-winning multi-published Illustrator and graphic designer.
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