Writer Wednesdays

Writer Wednesday: Forcing Yourself Inspired

D.L. vs Cyan (Above)

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

John Steinbeck

A conversation that occurs often in the Undertaker Books chat goes something like this:

Cyan: I need to write something.
Me: Then go write something.
Cyan: But I’m not inspired. I don’t have anything to write about!
Me: That sounds like a great story beginning!
Cyan: *swear words, plans to murder me in my sleep.*

I think the biggest challenge a lot of writers have is overcoming the desire to start with a big idea. They sit there waiting for a massive burst of inspiration, a big, beautiful story idea with everything laid out in front of them. Meanwhile, everything they need to put a story together is dancing around them, waiting to be noticed.

Inspiration is not something that shows up completed. It’s like IKEA furniture: you get all the pieces, but you have to assemble it into the idea. 

The best ideas start with a spark. For instance, I have an unpublished short story that started at my day job. I was looking at one of our massive plastic molds one day and thought, “Boy, it would suck to get stuck in one of those things…” 

As soon as I had the thought, I knew I had an idea to chase. 

The story didn’t jump into my mind as a finished product. I spent an hour or two musing on it, adding and subtracting elements, before it reached the final form.

When it came together, the words flowed onto the page. By then, I’d had another idea, and got to work on it. 

If you’re waiting for stories to arrive, you’ll spend most of your time waiting. But if you can develop sparks of inspiration into ideas, you’ll always have something to write about. That’s the skill most people who complain about a lack of inspiration are lacking, the ability to develop ideas.

And like any other ability, it takes practice.

But once you get good at it, the ideas will start flying, and stories will come together without you realizing what’s happening.

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