Inspiration with a Club

By Gina Burgess

Truman Capote:Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does or music. If you are born with them, fine. If not, learn them then rearrange them to suit you.

Just what we were talking about last week. Frankly, no two writers will work, or write, in the same way. No two writers will be inspired in the same way by the same thing. I’m wondering what inspires you. Where do you get your inspiration?
 Jack London said that you can’t wait for inspiration, “you have to go after it with a club.” Crude, but true. Too often my blog has my tirades against political things and societal breakdowns. Things I read that I hate about the human condition we live in today. You might know that kind of feeling: clenched teeth, lips pressed together, quickened breathing, heightened blood pressure, and indignation coming to a boil. It is also full of my incredible, sheer wonder of the blessings God gives and the words He breathed.
My inspiration usually comes with love and passion for something. I have to confess a terrible secret. I’m not sure I could live very long without the internet. When curious about something, I look it up on the internet. The other day I needed to know what would happen to a person if their airway was cut off and they got a body punch to the upper chest. After two hours of research, I knew quite a bit about divers’ bends–air embolisms. This inspired a plot point in my WIP.

Writing can be a lonely business.

By nature, we are social creatures. We often need solitude to word, but when we surface we need to mix with people. Without the interaction we can become so stagnant we’re distasteful to be around. It is the practice of interaction that helps us to write believable characters, and to draw creative, but believable situations these characters live in and through.
A factor that inspires Stephen King: Normal, everyday people, how they are and what they say. It’s also important to remember that no one is ‘the bad guy’ or ‘the best friend’ or ‘the whore with a heart of gold’ in real life; in real life we each of us regard ourselves as the main character, the protagonist, the big cheese; the camera is on us , baby. If you can bring this attitude into your fiction, you may not find it easier to create brilliant characters, but it will be harder for you to create the sort of one-dimensional dopes that populate so much pop fiction.
Stephen King often used the “What if…” inspiration. (After I read this, I used it many times.) He said in his book, On Writing, “The basics: forget plot, but remember the importance of ‘situation.'” Neither Cujo,or Salem’s Lot were plotted but came from considering, “What if…”

What usually inspires you?

What was your last What if… consideration and did it lead to a great story? Where did you get your last inspiration for your work in progress?
Please tell me you don’t look at a blank blog post screen and your first sentence is: I’m blank. I just don’t know what to write about today.

21 thoughts on “Inspiration with a Club”

  1. Excellent question, as usual from you, Gina. I find it fascinating and will try to be succinct in my reply. Lately, I have been learning (to my surprise) that there aren’t really very many matters that matter to me. Those few that do, however, really DO. Mortality is one example: it’s a topic that helps me appreciate and cherish my time. I read a lot of writers like Samuel Beckett, whose characters are utterly frittering their lives away. He shows vividly how I DON’T want to live, which I find tremendously inspiring. The fact is, life is short. Some might consider that topic depressing; not me. It is totally invigorates me! And so, I simply “bring and sing” whatever God gives me each new day, which always “just happens” to be a matter that matters to me. How cool is that?!?

  2. Most of my inspiration comes from real life: Domestic abuse that touched my family and work place twice, my time in Vietnam, a paranormal study group I belonged to years ago. There’s also books, movies, news articles. I think I have a pretty lively imagination that comes from a lot of exercise and menial work and the consequential daydreaming.

  3. Inspiration?:
    With the best ones, I get a deep-gut sense and an urge to follow it with words to describe what I’m thinking. Is that the Holy Spirit? More and more, I’m aiming to write his ideas rather than my own. His are so much better and more useful to others anyway.
    Shalom!

    1. Following those feelings with descriptive words is, I believe, inspiration from God Himself, Sarah. I know that the best writing comes from those God-inspired ideas! I think it was Beth Moore who pointed out when Jesus said He was the Alpha and the Omega He was also claiming all the letters in between and He was the fullness and completeness of our entire alphabet. Or something like that.

  4. Inspiration comes at me from all directions. My story ideas are usually triggered by something new or something new I’ve noticed about something old. And then comes the “what if.” For instance, I was eating dinner with friends one night and noticed a woman eating alone at an adjacent table, reading a book. Very soon, what if came along. What if she normally at at that same table the same time, same day every week. What if a gentleman did the same thing, but just before or just after she did. What if circumstances put them there at the same time one week, and no other tables were available? This one is filling in its own details and will climb out of the file when it can’t wait any longer to be written.

  5. Thank you Gina for the question and the responses thus far. My inspiration is the result of the pain and suffering I experienced as a child and the desire to expose those individuals that could have made a difference that includes family and community. What saved me were the extremes that existed in my life, the good and the bad. Truly, A relationship with God saved the day. This is what drives me even when I am weak .

    1. Darren, so often pain spurs inspiration. I wrote a book called When Christians Hurt Christians. I saw so many people avoiding God when it was God’s people who had done the hurting. But even more so, I was terribly hurt in the corporate arena as well as in personal life by Christians who knew better but didn’t do better. I knew before I wrote the book that hurting people hurt people, but I didn’t realize how true (or false) that was until I started digging into research for the book. It was harsh, and hurtful, and eye-opening, and so many other things.

      All that to say, that truer words could not apply to this inspiration wrinkle: “A relationship with God saves the day, and drives (His children) when (they) are weak.” Thank you for those words 😉

  6. Love this post and these fabulous comments! Sometimes my best work comes not from an idea or inspiration, but rather a deadline. Writing is my passion but also my job, so therefore I have days when I turn on the computer and just start writing. And I pray a lot!

  7. I love this discussion and the way you presented it in your blog!!!
    I never have writers’ block or draw blanks for two reasons:

    1. The beautiful thing about art is you can always throw it away and start anew!

    2. This world and the life in it fascinates me! I can find great inspiration just by looking at something from a different
    perspective…

    I love breaking down those lessons in life that we tend to accept as truth, and find they weren’t as solid as they sounded. Then I put it a poetic format to share. I am currently working on my first novel which is all written in verse… It is an exciting challenge to be sure. But, trying things that have never been done inspires me! Love this blog! Signed up immediately Thank you Gina!

  8. To the question; where do I get my inspiration from for my current project. I would say most of it comes from God, and I realize that He is a funny God also. The rest comes from my everyday world and also doing the “What if” strategy contemplating what will and could really happen if A dislikes B or not.

  9. Inspiration only requires 4 words-” what if – Then what” and you are off and running. If you can’t handle that, than try another vocation, like short order cook. If you do not read a lot, then you probably won’t write a lot.

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