INSPIRATION – WHERE DO YOUR IDEAS COME FROM? – UPDATE
This will be the third time I’ve re-visited this article. Why? Because inspiration is critical to every writer. It’s key to what we do. Without inspiration, we’d have nothing to do! It doesn’t matter whether we write fiction or non-fiction, something has to inspire us to pick up pen or keyboard and start the process. Something has to drive us to create a word picture for someone else to read, or even for ourselves to re-read once we’ve finished it.
If you’re of the reality-based bent, you’ll want to go for non-fiction. Maybe you have an interest in something scientific. Maybe you want to write about some famous or infamous person. Maybe you want to write about a subject near and dear to your heart, some passion that you think the world needs to know about. Something has inspired you to do that, something gave you that drive to put the word out!
If you’re a fiction writer, you want to make stuff up. It doesn’t matter the subject, whether literary or genre, you have something to say. Something inspired you…something compelled you to put it down in words.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
In my case, I’ve told it twice already on this web site. For a brief review, here is the gist of it:
I’ve always had a great imagination. That was evident early on when one day, I was walking home from kindergarten. Yes, back in the 50’s, it was normal for kids to be able to do that, even in the Los Angeles suburb of Lakewood where we lived for a short time. I drew something in class I had yet to name. Some of the mothers saw me proudly flashing my fine work of art. They stopped me at the end of the cul-de-sac as I cut between houses. They gathered around and admired my crayon scribbles.
“What is that, Freddie?”
I thought a moment and then it hit me. “It’s a polka-dot sewer!”
My mom, who was waiting for me by the front door, heard the peals of laughter. She walked down from the house to investigate.
I don’t remember anything else about that day. It was, however, the start of my illustrious career of telling tall stories. Not long after that, during show and tell, I told the class how my sister went down the drain after bath time. Somewhere, I have a note about that on one of my report cards.
Now, take comedians. A well-used and very true-ism from stand-up is that all a comedian has to do is watch the news. Their material writes itself. True?
Take the presidential campaign. From both sides, the parties are making enough gaffs to keep comedians happy until the elections. Then, whoever gets in office will be the next target.
What about writers?
Taken from what I read, thrillers for instance, with all the terrorist attacks around the world and within our own borders, writers have a gold mine of inspiration.
How about romance writers (which are a big thumbs down for me, but go figure). Maybe soap operas, or celebrity romances, or just life in general.
Westerns? How about the old movie channels on cable that show westerns all day and night. I’m sure there’s plenty of inspiration from that!
THE ODDEST LITTLE THINGS
The big ideas are one thing, but say you’re already in the middle of your big idea. Or, you may still be thinking on that, maybe with several possibilities, but are pondering ideas you can incorporate into your story.
As a true writer, the world is an open book. Keep in mind, I’m talking mainly about fiction writers for this.
Everyday life can provide infinite inspiration to color your world. Just walking down the street and observing people can provide you with a wealth of ideas. My infamous example from a while back, a trip through the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland sparked my imagination. Chatting with friends and family. You name it. The oddest little things can inspire ways to color and enhance your world.
Another thought derives from what we used to love to do in Spain, especially in downtown Madrid back in the 70’s and 80’s. We loved nothing better than to sit in an outside tasca (that’s a Spanish bar) on a busy street and watch people go by. You’d see some of the most fascinating things.
When it comes to non-fiction, that’s a tougher call. Then again, your inspiration is facts. The more facts you get, the more ways you can enhance your world…your subject. All I can say is that the more colorful or less dull you make your non-fiction work, the more likely people will get your message…your point. If you just want to get the word out and don’t care who you appeal to, go for it. However, if you want to appeal to a wider audience, even a little bit, how about adding a bit of color or pizazz without being so dull about the subject? A little inspiration in stating the hard cold facts would be nice. That’s where inspiration can really help.
The oddest little things can make all the difference.