Webster’s defines inspiration as: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone.
Writers find inspiration in many different ways. You don’t have to haunt internet social media for long to find writers who create song lists, Pinterest pages for characters or even complete back stories. The methods are about as individual as the writers themselves.
And when inspiration seems to be absent? You will also hear phrases such as white page or blinking curser syndrome... There is a particular taste to the frustration of sitting in front of the computer feeling as blank as the page before you. I’ve been there many times.
So what do writers do when they’re struggling to find the next word? Besides haunting Facebook, Twitter and Google? Does inspiration take mass quantities of coffee? Wine? Chocolate? (These seem to be the main food groups of writers by the way)
The answer to all of these is yes and no.
I think although social media can be distracting, it also is an avenue to reach out to others in a way that helps us feel we’re not alone in the crazy occupation called writing. But in the end, inspiration comes from... work.
It comes from working through the frustration, hitting a dead end, more frustration and barreling through that. It comes from never giving up. Inspiration (Or whatever you’d like to call your muse) is like seismic spikes. When it hits, you run with it and it’s thrilling, but the rest of the time there is a lot of work, a lot of one word in front of the other, a lot of prep, grammar, formatting... a lot of “just get words on paper because you can’t rewrite a blank page.”
There are periods in a writers life that seem stagnant, when we feel we’ve lost that something that caused words to pour from our minds, through our fingers and fill the page. And when it seems no one is reading our work anyway... It’s a one two punch that knocks many of us flat.
The best way to welcome your muse back with open arms, is to have a foundation of hard, sometimes boring, work. Then she will pepper her magic over the words and you’ll get that aha moment and ... it’s all worth it. Yes, I realize I’m mixing metaphors all over the place.
Where do you get your inspiration? And what words of encouragement could you offer those of us who are feeling how steep the climb can be?
My advice is to get words on paper, even if it’s garbage... because you really can’t edit a blank page and we all know writing is ¾ editing anyway. And sometimes, you find a gem worth keeping when you least expect it.