Inspiration: The Art of Being Creative

Inspiration: The Art of Being Creative

Inspiration can be a fickle entity. As anyone who works creatively will tell you, there are times when everything seems to flow, and ideas come one after another. Most of us would give anything to be in that sweet spot all the time. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. There are just as many times when nothing seems to be work, and you feel like you’re climbing a cliff face using nothing more than your fingernails. You can make progress, but it’s tough and slow. My post today is more of a diary entry than anything, but hopefully you’ll gain a little more of an understanding of me as a writer because of it.

For me, inspiration is not a frustrating part of the writing process. When I have an outline and a place to go, the writing usually goes smoothly, for the most part. There are always hesitations, such as how to start out a specific scene, or struggles to find the perfect word. At times, I’ll come up with better ideas as I’m writing, and I’ll go with them. Regardless, the writing doesn’t usually give me too many problems.

It’s outlining that usually gives me fits. I’ve learned through the years of experience that not having an outline is a bad idea. I have an indefatigable ability to extrapolate, and if I don’t tightly rein it in, I can end up with a thousand-page manuscript that goes nowhere. Besides, it’s always a good idea to know where you’re going when you start a journey. You wouldn’t drive to New York without your trusty GPS guiding you along the way, or you might end up in Inuvik. (I bet there are a bunch of you going to Google to find out where the heck Inuvik is!)

But outlining does not come easy to me. I’ve been known to sit and stare at a Word document for hours, discarding ideas left and right because none of them seem to work. Or I have no ideas at all. I have a tough time finding a middle ground. That’s why I always try to keep ahead of the game. If I have a couple of outlines sitting around, I always have something to write when whatever I’m working on is complete.

And starting an outline is the worst. Case in point, I’ve had this idea that’s been in the back of my mind for a year or two now. I know the overall idea of the story, and I have a couple of ideas of events, but I’ve never figured out how I want to approach it. That’s where we swing back to the original topic of inspiration, and how crazy it can sometimes be.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a sucker for classical music. I grew up with it, as it’s all my mom listens to. Lately, I was listening to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and almost unbidden, I got this image of Elizabeth playing it and Darcy listening to her. And suddenly it was there. I now know how to approach it, and though I still have some hard work slogging through the outline, I now know how to go about it.

I get my inspiration through a lot of crazy ways: dreams, random thoughts when my mind is on something else, innocuous words spoken by others. The shower has always been a particularly fertile place to get ideas, for some reason. Like I said, it’s crazy, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it.

If there are any new authors reading this—and if I haven’t lost everyone, because you’re all wondering what’s the deal with this boring post—my advice would be to never give up, even if seems like you’re going nowhere. Look for inspiration in unlikely places. You never know where or when you’ll be inspired!

 

I have a couple of announcements to make. The first is that my next work is scheduled for release on March 22. It will be called “Mr. Darcy’s Illness” and it’s a novella, much shorter than my usual offering. Further details and the cover reveal to follow on the Facebook page.

The second is that my writing partner, Lelia Eye, and I will be launching our new and improved blog within the next couple of months. I have no details on the launch date yet, but it should be sometime this spring. The URL is aglimmerofgold.com, and in it we plan to post about such subjects as writing, book and film reviews, excerpts, giveaways, and other assorted items. And whatever we write about, we promise there will always be A Glimmer of Gold to be found within, even if it’s something we don’t really like! More details to follow.

16 Responses to Inspiration: The Art of Being Creative

  1. Thanks for sharing your writing process with us Jann. If I had the creativity to be a writer (I don’t!) I’ve no idea which sort I’d be, though the discipline of an outline appeals to me a lot whereas the thought of winging it would scare the pants off me. Good luck with the new work!

  2. I also have been a pantser writer, Jann. It’s only been since January after reading an article on ‘Training Your Muse’ that I seem to be doing things a little differently. Writing for about 2-3 hours soon after I arise seems to release my creativity OR it banishes the barriers to it. Not sure which. For me, I’m not fully functional for about 3 hours after I abandon the bed. However, I try to do the editing of said writings when I’m fully awake. The results are a little better as the initial writing can look a little strange. 🙂 I do have a very general and brief plot idea in mind and maybe about a 5 step outline, if that. I do find that many times, my stories take on a life of their own. But rather than writing encyclopedias, my editor makes me flesh out various areas because I’m used to taking an hour’s worth of info and condensing to 5 minutes for Bible talks. I can really put most topics into a nut shell. Doing the reverse can be a challenge. But, I will say this, Jann, you do a good job of it. Thanks for your enlightening post.

    • Okay, so now you folks have me intrigued. When I start writing an outline, I typically know where I’m going with a story, and the outline is just putting in the basic details. I’m now wondering if I could skip that step and just go into writing. It would certainly help make things much quicker, as it takes me some time to get a good outline down. I’m thinking an experiment might be in order!

      • Since outlines have been helpful to you, perhaps not turning them into a novella would make them less time consuming. 🙂 I am joking, of course. You might see if a very brief one with just the major points would be sufficient. That way you could concentrate on writing the story. I might find that doing a little more with my own outlines would serve me better also. I wish both of us well with our experiments.

  3. Like Regina, I am a pantser as well. I’ve never tried to outline, unless vague notes counts. LOL! Congrats on the upcoming release, and the new website. I know very well what a big accomplishment that is!

    • You pantsers make me envious! I could save a lot of time if I didn’t have to create an outline. Maybe I should give it a try…

      And thanks! I wasn’t planning on a novella this time. It just kind of worked out that way. For the website, we’re planning it out carefully, because we know if we don’t have everything planned and multiple posts loaded, we’ll never keep up with it.

  4. I wish I had anything like inspiration. I have not a creative bone in my body for things like plots and intrigues which makes me so much more grateful for those such as all the Austen Authors who do. All the walking, music, background noise, or any other technique helps not a bit. Thanks for taking the time to jot down and commit to word your inspirations.

    • It’s really interesting to see what other people do. I sort to stumbled onto writing, but now I’m glad I did! As for background noise, for me it depends what it is. I can write to classical, for example, but modern music often distracts me. And having the TV on is a recipe for disaster, no matter what it is!

  5. I am a “pantser” rather than a “plotter.” Perhaps it is the 40 years in the English classroom where I taught “outlining,” but I do not “outline.” I call it “Red Pen Syndrome” or RPS. I am regularly all amazed when something I wrote early in the story turns out to be the key to everything. That being said, I do have what I call the umbrella effect in place before I start writing. I know specific events will occur (the spokes of the umbrella), but how the material that ties it all together will stretch from point A to point B, I generally have no idea.
    If I hit a part of the story where things are not going well, I just leave it until an inspiration hits me. The longest I must wait to rejoin the story was 3 weeks. Generally it is one or two days.
    As to inspiration, I have no set patterns. Like Renata, I walk daily, but that is to be rid of the stiffness in my shoulders for being so long at the computer.
    When I was a choreographer, my greatest routines came in the middle of the night. In those days, I kept a tape recorder beside the bed to whisper my inspiration into so I would not forget my “dream” ideas (and also not to wake the household).
    Nowadays, when I write, I have the TV on for background noise. I do not watch it. It is just there. Occasionally, I will listen to music.

    • That’s interesting how some things work. It would certainly shorten the writing process to be able to ignore outlines altogether. I might be able to get away with it when writing P&P variations, but for some of the other stuff, it just wouldn’t work. In fantasy, you’re creating a whole new world, with geographies, customs, history, etc. You need the background in that kind of work.

  6. I also find the shower a place for inspiration, but I get more productive inspiration when taking walks. I could call that exercising my creativity.

    I did not realize you worked with a co-author. I find it interesting that, like me, you work with someone who does not live near you.

    • I’m trying to get out and exercise a little more, as I find that I’m sometimes growing moss sitting at my desk all the time.

      My co-author and I have never actually met in person. Everything we’ve done has been over the internet. The wonders of technology!

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