085 - Inspiration and perspiration

A couple of writing related thoughts and questions. They're not just rhetorical, so feel free to chime in (and if this is incoherent I apologize, I've spent all day in front of a computer crunching numbers):

-- Where do you find inspiration?

I was reading a blog that suggested the best thing for creativity was the ability to indulge in silent moments. I never put two and two together, but after thinking about it, I have to agree. I find that most of my 'great' ideas occur while I'm in the bathroom or in bed about to fall asleep. I never gave it much thought but those are both quiet times -- perhaps the most quiet, introspective moments of my entire day. For the rest of the day I'm around people, or my television is on, and/or I'm sitting in front of a computer. All of those things tie up valuable brain capacity when I'd rather just sit and let my mind wander.

I also find inspiration in my interactions with people, or observations of human behavior. I'm a loner by nature, so I spend most of my free time holed up at home. That's probably why most of my blogs are about one thing that stood out to me in the course of a day and then I see where it takes me. I find that during the times that I get out of the house and do things, I come home brimming with ideas and anecdotes.

As I was writing my story I would stumble across interesting things in the course of my research. Unexpected gems I hadn't intended to find that inspired me to go down a different path, helped me get over my writer's block, or added more to the plot than I originally intended.

-- How do you avoid becoming formulaic? I am a voracious reader, and if I like what an author has to say I will exhaust their body of work. After a book or two I find that I know what to expect. That can be a good thing as long as they continue to surprise me, but if it's the same story over and over it becomes, well... redundant. For example, Stephen King used to be one of my favorite authors, in fact, he wrote one of my favorite books (The Stand). But after 20 or so books I know that something bad is going to happen in Bangor, Maine. That bad thing is most often paranormal or alien in nature. Eventually Team Good and Team Evil will form to battle it out, and Team Good will triumph. Many times the main character is an alcoholic with a penchant for chewing on aspirin tablets. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the books I read, it's just that eventually I was less surprised by the story. It was almost like a Mad Lib where I could fill in the blanks. I haven't read his work in over a decade now so I don't know if that still holds true or not, and it doesn't diminish his work, but it's not exciting to me anymore.

There's another lesson to be learned in Mr. King... when I was 12, I convinced my parents to drive me and my best friend into the big city so I could get his autograph. We stood in line for an hour before rumors began to trickle down the line that he was refusing to sign his own books, he would only sign books by a fellow author he was there to promote. On the one hand, nice of him to promote a fellow author. On the other hand, here I was, a 12 year old girl who put her parents to the trouble of two hours of rush hour traffic, who only wanted to meet her hero and have him sign a book... it was a major disappointment. I wanted to meet him so badly that I actually went into the store to look at this guy's book, and I almost gave in and bought it, but in the end I saw it as a strong-arm tactic to get me to buy a book I wasn't the least bit interested in and I walked away. So the moral of the story is... if you happen to make it big, be nice to the public that supports you. What would it have hurt for him to sign his books? Nothing. But it sure upset a lot of people when he didn't. It didn't stop me from reading his books, but it certainly dulled my enthusiasm.

Non-writting stuff... I got my suitcase this afternoon. It's going back Friday. It was bigger than I thought, and I don't know how I missed that it was only red on the front. It also felt flimsy. So I found another one I think I like. I hope I like it. Friday my other one will be 600 miles away, so there's no going back! Eek!

I also go my flat iron. I am pleased.


  1. I agree with you about King. His books are entertaining but only that. As to inspiration, I find that my most inspirational moments come in a couple places and times. 1. when I'm doing physical work, if my body is busy, my mind is free(usually), the other is while I'm in the middle of an online video game I play. Don't really know why, but when I'm playing I can sorta step outside of my norm and my mind is wandering. Anyway that's just one weird guy's take on it :)

  2. I agree about ideas for your novel coming when you're about to fall asleep. That's also when I used to resolve some of the physics or math problems=P How practical!

  3. I will be expecting an autograph once you hit the big time with your book(s)!!! Don't forget us peons who suffered day in and day out with you! 8-)

  4. Bendigo - I can see how a game might inspire you. I used to love to play those early games that didn't even have graphics, you just gave a command and moved forward in a story. The only thing that sucked was figuring that word out...

    Sarah - I used to solve matrices in my dreams. I actually like doing math, it's like a puzzle.

    Greg - Just what are you implying??? Ooooooh, you mean you shared my pain. Yeah - you really did. =)