It’s often said that writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. This may be true, but I also feel that if I enjoy doing something enough, it becomes less of a job, and thus, less than 90% perspiration. I enjoy writing, so I’d guess that is true for me. However, a lot of it comes about finding a good idea, finding something you want to write about. With a good enough inspiration, you can motivate yourself through all the perspiration. Nonetheless, inspiration is certainly the most enjoyable part of the writing process. It’s that moment when the brilliant idea just hits you, when something enters your head, and you immediately think “gee, that would make a great book.” For this week’s post, I’ll reflect on how I gain that initial inspiration.
The way I see it, the inspiration has to come to the writer. A writer doesn’t just decide that he’s going to write a story and then start pondering about what the story’s going to be about. The best story ideas come to the writer. I feel that the ideas that come to me like this are not only the best ideas, but they are the most fun ideas to work with. I didn’t force these ideas out, they came out on their own, likely from the subconscious. Pardon me if I’m getting philosophical, but I believe that I have a deeper connection with these stories, and thus, they are much more likely to hold my interest for longer.
However, this isn’t to say consciously searching for ideas is bad. As I go about my daily life, I keep it in my head to pay attention for any errant thoughts, or things I see and hear, that I might be able to develop into a good story. I also pay attention when I’m reading other peoples’ stories, watching television, or something like that. I might be able to take some of the ideas or concepts presented in those works farther or take them in a different direction to create my own new stories. Dreams are another good place to pay attention; that’s where I got the original idea for “The Cromm Conspiracy” from. Of course, I have to be careful not try too hard to find ideas. I might end up manufacturing a bad idea, give myself a headache, or both.
However, I find that the most important ingredient for inspiration is patience. Sometimes, story ideas come easily, and I get many in a relatively short period of time. Other times, I go days, weeks, months, even years without getting one. Regardless, I never rush it. At any given time, I usually have a few longer projects I can work on while continuing to wait for the new ideas to come to me.
I came to learn this after a few incomplete, or simply awful stories, from when I failed to wait for a good idea. “Welcome to Utopia” was a story I started writing in high school, when I decided, on a whim, that I wanted to write a story in a similar style to some story I read in class. I finished several chapters before I realized I had no idea which direction I was going with it, and it was not holding my interest, so I ultimately scrapped the project (though I do still have the draft somewhere on my computer). That one detail wasn’t enough to give me the story, so I tried to force the important details out, and ended up with a story that just wasn’t fun to write, and probably would have ended up bad too.
This also happened a few times with Wiz, especially early on, when I wanted to write a lot of Wiz stories, and thus, I forced ideas out, and produced a lot of bad ones. Additionally, I made two attempts to revive the Wiz series, both of which never went anywhere because all I knew was that I wanted to revive the series, and didn’t really know what I would ultimately do with the new Wiz.
However, there is no guarantee that any idea is any good, or will continue to hold my interest. I do not jump the gun and start writing the moment I get that initial inspiration. I have to continue pondering the idea, developing it, until I’ve got a more detailed story outline, and all this time, I’m testing that the idea can continue to hold my interest. However, that’s a topic for another week. Until next week, I’ve got things to do…