Inspiration is like the life blood of a writer. Aside from my own imagination, the inspiration I get from outside forces is the most important weapon in my arsenal as a writer – without inspiration, I am essentially nothing as a writer. Your imagination and inspiration share a very important partnership, feeding off of each other. Without inspiration, your imagination will fade away. And without the creativity of an imagination, moments of inspiration will fail to flourish and become unimportant. They need one another, so finding who or what inspires you quickly is incredibly important as a writer.
Inspiration takes two main forms in my opinion. The first is what or who inspires you to write in the first place. It can have little or no effect on what you actually end up writing about. Rather they are the things that inspire you to initially pick up a pen or open up a word document. The second is what or who is your inspiration for what you end up writing. The two can be often be similar or the same. Normally they differ for me.
More often than not I am inspired to write by people rather than events, places or items. It’s the idea of people reading my work and enjoying it which inspires and pushes me to write. I’ve spoken often on my blog about the influence and inspiration that my old English teacher has been to me as a writer. She herself has never really inspired any particular thing I’ve written – I have created no characters based on her. But it was her consistent encouragement during my time being taught by her that constantly inspired me and pushed me to write. At dinner with friends recently their questioning about my novel idea made me want to go home and throw myself into my work. People inspire the idea of writing in me.
Reading the work of other authors is also a great source of inspiration for me. Of course, there are times when I will become envious of authors. Often, I am envious of the actual idea of their novel. Who doesn’t become a little bit annoyed at themselves for not penning the goldmine ideas for Harry Potter or The Hunger Games first? Other times, I get annoyed at an author because they were able to publish a novel before I could. The audacity of it. But then I take comfort in knowing that if so many before me have been able to do it, then why wouldn’t I be able to? Every time I walk through a bookstore or pick up a book, it is proof that the task of writing a book can be achieved, even it seems impossible to do at times. And that inspires me to write.
The notion of where I get my inspiration for my actual writing from tends to be a different story. Very few of my ideas have come from people. I rarely receive inspiration from a person; most characters I have created are made solely in my imagination. If they are inspired by people I know or strangers that I walk past, then it is done subconsciously. The only people I would maybe draw inspiration from would be other writers. I think writers bounce ideas off of one another without ever having to meet, and unintentionally most times. I write mostly fantasy because that’s what I mostly read, so that is what I know. Any science fiction I would write would end up being ridiculous because I don’t read sci-fi.
Instead, I am inspired greatly by objects, or events, or places. On one Sunday visit to TK Maxx I found myself drawing inspiration from a small, ornate wooden trinket box. By the time I had gotten home, a partially formed idea had planted itself in my mind, based solely around that little box. I have done nothing with the idea ever since, but it’s there if I ever want or need it.
For some reason, I almost always have a peak in creativity while I am on holiday. Something about the change in scenery and weather encourages me to switch my time beside the pool between reading a book and writing one. It’s why I wish I travelled more often, to get a bigger influx of inspiration. New places inspire locations in my writing, which in turn inspires the cultures and people that I will create.
Inspiration can strike at any time. Sometimes I see it coming, and I almost expect it. And other times it hits me like a punch in the dark, although perhaps that is an unsavoury and violent comparison. But inspiration for me does normally come out of nowhere, bursting onto the scene without warning. It’s why having a pen handy at all times is absolutely crucial for me. Far too many ideas have been lost because I couldn’t find one in time, and inspiration is something that doesn’t tend to stick around for very long.