Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Inspirational Quote and London

There's a quote by Jack London (you know, author of such works as Call of the Wild and White Fang) that I like: "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

This quote reminds me of a certain debate when it comes to inspiration and writing; some believe writing (be it poetry or prose) should only be done when inspired - presumably, because that is when we, as writers, are most attuned to our feelings and can, therefore, better express or convey them. Others believe, however, as London does, and as I do, that we must create inspiration ourselves - even force it to happen. The thinking here is that instead of having to wait for something that may or may not come, which is most detrimental to professional writers on a schedule, one takes the wheel oneself, the car having been hot-wired, and drives. Proponents of the former bent would likely say that this latter approach would lead to an inferior product, since things are forced, so to speak. While I somewhat agree that this sort of thing happens, I think that we should try our best to find that invaluable inspiration wherever it may originate (trying different things and seeing what works). Sometimes, it's just a matter of starting (editing, proofreading), and then finding that finding that spark in the story itself - it's worked for me.

There are other things people have been known to do. Dan Brown, for example, is a famous proponent of inversion therapy (that is, hanging upside down to help clear the mind). I've tried this, too, and have found that it actually does help, though I think it's probably just because I'm sort of meditating and not thinking about anything else. Music helps, as well. Some music is distracting, though. I prefer something purely instrumental or some Mozart or Chopin. However, I've learned that the more consistently I write, the more easily I find inspiration. The plot and characters start to live in my head for a time, and sometimes I dream about them. Another piece of advice I'd give is to keep a journal or writing instrument close by when sleeping, so you can jot down inspirational dreams. I've gotten many an idea for stories this way.

When do you write? What inspires, or motivates, you?

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