It’s a common question, one that comes up anytime I tell someone that I’m an author. It’s kind of funny because, every time I’m asked, I’m forced to ponder where the heck it does come from. To tell you the truth, at first, I wasn’t entirely sure. Inspiration is just one of those random things … like bird poop landing on your head. One minute you’re standing there, going about your day, thinking about what’s next on your to-do list, and the next thing know—plop!—something warm and gooey drops out of the sky.
But I do have to say, other than the warm and gooey feeling, getting struck by inspiration is a whole lot more pleasant than bird poop. It lifts me out of my day to entertain a whole new and fascinating train of thought, kind of like entering an alternate reality. It brings with it a sense of adventure and passion that gets the dusty cogs of my mind turning again and fills me with wonder. It’s an awesome feeling, and I’m always grateful when drops out of the great blue to visit.
After much though, there are two things I know for sure about inspiration. The first is that it doesn’t come out of a vacuum. If I’ve just been living each day of my life the same way as the day before, or trying to use the same processes to write over and over again. I get zip, nada. In this way, inspiration is like a spark that flies when I am exploring something new, even if it’s just hearing new information. It doesn’t have to be big. Maybe I drive somewhere a different way than I did yesterday, or see a movie trailer while snacking on popcorn waiting for the main film to start. Like lightening, I never know where or when it will strike. But exactly like lightening, it never strikes the same place twice, which is why I make sure never to get too cozy in my writing cave or in my routines.
The second thing I’ve learned about inspiration is that, when it comes, it is crucial to jot down notes while it is fresh. Human memory is a fickle thing, and the many wonderful nuances that come along with the inspiration can be forgotten very quickly if I don’t pay attention to them right away. So, no matter where I am, I make sure to record any and all of the impressions coming to me. Thank goodness for the dictation app and notes app on my iPhone, those have come in very handy! Paper and pen is my first preference though, and I have taken to always having some form of notebook always with me. You have no idea how frustrating it can be for an author to find a pen, but not be able to find a blank piece of paper when they need it!
Following that first purge of information, I find that all the bits and pieces seem to come together somehow. If I have written them down, that somehow seems to solidify them. I’ll even go so far as to get Woo Woo with you right now, because this is how it feels. I “claim” the inspiration by the act of writing them down. I believe that the ideas stay with and belong to me because I manifest them in to my physical reality by the simple act of jotting them down. Crazy, right? But how many times have you talked to someone who said, “I had that idea years ago and So-And-So stole it!” Well, I’m betting that person never even wrote it down much less took any action on it. I believe that if we don’t capture the inspiration when it comes, it will go on to someone else who will pay attention to it. Sometimes, I don’t even see the notes again after that first scribble, but that seems to be the key thing. Because, following that, the ideas seem to always make it into my stories exactly as they were meant to. To this day, I still find random words and phrases scribbled down somewhere that have been incorporated into a book.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on inspiration. Now I’m curious what yours are. Please feel free to share in the comments where and when you find it coming to you and your techniques for capturing it.
About the Author:
Restless by nature, Jewel Quinlan is an avid traveler and has visited sixteen countries so far. Lover of ice cream, dark beer, and red wine she tries to stay fit when she’s not typing madly on her computer concocting another romance novel. In her spare time, she likes to do yoga, hike, learn German, and play with her spoiled Chihuahua, Penny.
For more information about Jewel Quinlan
Or join Jewel’s newsletter if you just want to get the most important updates