How to find inspiration

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A book is made up of an idea and then how you draw that idea for other people to experience. An agent told me that some people have great ideas but can’t write at all; others have the talent but little imagination. It’s the complete package and if you’re looking for ideas, you’re missing half the book. There are a ton of books and blog articles that aim to help inspire you although they always seem lame to me (“a man wins lots of money, you lose your child… write down what happens next…”).

I think the best ideas are fragments, snippets of things that come to you at all hours of day and night. Many writers carry books on them to catch these ideas before they fade into real life (Jack Kerouac’s number 1 rule was “scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy”). Kathryn Craft on Writer Unboxed talks about how the amalgamation of these random elements can really lead to better ideas. I agree. Much of a book’s ideas can be how these sketches mold into each other, forming a new idea, much better than the sum of their parts. 


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4 thoughts on “How to find inspiration

  1. I have many “scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages” filled with fleeting ideas that would escape if I ignored them. Sometimes I wake up with pages of huge, almost illegible writing for a scene or the connections that make up a book. It is strange how they link together later in the manuscript as if I had another ghostly person deep in my mind who toiled behind the scenes knitting words and motivations and experiences the characters have in common. These “sketches” carry bits of my most powerful buried images and impulses and often fuel the next writing session. I think Kerouac and Kathryn Craft were onto this same experience. This is a mystical part of the grunge work that makes up writing and I am glad you brought it up in your blog Ellen.

    • I couldn’t agree more! I love how you talk about knitting them all together too… it does feel like that, doesn’t it? Secret stashes of my segments of my brain that just scream to be written. I just hope we find the time to do it all… wonderful comment. Thanks!

    • I know what you mean! Sometimes I find things I wrote that I don’t even remember writing.. in writing that I can barely read because they were at all hours of the day and night, scrawled in a fog. I think that makes us very lucky people, even if they never get turned into something more… thanks for the lovely comment. Ellen

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