#AtoZChallenge: I is for Inspiration



Having seen at least 10 people dedicating their “I” to Inspiration, I decided to share how I find my ideas for writing. I have always like this advice from Stephen King:

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

To me, inspiration never comes when I look for it. It is only after I have started working that it shows up, often unexpectedly, in the middle of a sentence being typed or a page flipped over, like a nasty mosquito buzzing and circling, refusing to go away. The brain has warmed up and is now operating smoothly, so that everything it senses, it carefully examines and connects this new input with many others already sorted and stored. It is such connection that gives sparks.

It is a bit like clashing two things together to create a loud “Bang!” It does not have to be as dramatic as smashing two atoms in an accelerator, but the more different the two things are from each other, the better. A flower and a fork, a book and a boot, a shoe and a submarine, a smile and a tomato, a tornado or even a torpedo — whatever you can think of. What happens when you put the two together? Even more interestingly, what happens when you desperately try to keep them apart, and why would you want to do that? Who could stop you?

In the beginning this “connection game” will be hard. The brain simply goes blank — Kapaw! Full stop! — and needs to be switched on and warmed up all over again. However, once it becomes used to this process, it will automatically attempt all sorts of connections with or without anyone’s consent. The fun thus begins.

As ideas come in all the time, I tend to grab them as soon as possible. As I am on the computer most of the time, it helps to have a text file open and immediately record whatever ideas my brain generates. Because it is a text file, there is neither font nor format to distract me. It is jut the raw information being nailed there and waiting for me to re-visit it. Sometimes such a text file can stay in the background for weeks and even months, with all sorts of words, phrases and half-formed sentences scattered all over the place. (You can also add images if you are visual-oriented.) Every visit connects more of these “dots” so that new stories come flooding out.

Keeping such an exercise as a habit is crucial. I have learned to keep a journal with me all the time so that no idea can slip pass the machine that is my brain. Obviously it is hard to write things down while doing dishes or taking a shower, but whether I am walking, vacuuming, eating, reading or simply refusing to get out of bed on a Saturday morning, a journal nearby comes in handy. It is the best friend any writer can and should have.

Give it a try, please, and soon you will find that inspiration is everywhere — fresh ideas will eventually become so intrusive and demanding that you will be flat out writing, just to catch up to them. You can trust me now and blame me later.


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