Monday, September 26, 2011


Finding inspiration

One question that readers often ask authors is where they get their inspiration. I think it’s one of the hardest questions to answer, which is why everyone wants to know. The truth is, everyone finds inspiration in something different. Maybe the beauty of nature, or a book that particularly touched something inside and made an engineer want to pick up a pen (or log on to a laptop) and write. Or maybe it’s something completely banal, like a twirling strip of flypaper or the fly that got stuck to it and is still trying to buzz its way free.

I can’t shed any insight on the writing process of bestselling authors, or tell you what inspired Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer. If you want to know that, I’m sure both have written enough explanations that you can find it in a Google search. All I can tell you is what inspires one indie writer. I doubt that even those mega-gazillion-times-over bestselling authors can tell what inspires another writer.

I can’t even say for sure what inspired me. The first time I wrote a novel, I was motivated by the slowness of my son’s eating. I had to find something to do or go crazy with boredom for the three hour-long table sessions each day. But I’m not sure what inspired me. I started out with a life experience I had, changed it up a little, decided it would actually be the end of the novel, and went back to the beginning to map out how the characters ended up at the end. The next series I wrote was inspired by a discussion with my family. The next was inspired by a friend of mine who said, “What happened to the days when bad guys were bad?”

That’s what’s so great about finding inspiration. It’s everywhere, in everything. There are as many sources of inspiration as there are writers and books and stories combined. And still more waiting to be discovered and to inspire one more shoemaker/bus boy/car salesman to write a novel.

Not to sound too super-cheese, but there is no end to inspiration. It is all around us, and most of all, inside us. So next time something inspires you, sit down and write about it. A phrase, a sentence, a page. From James Patterson to the mailman, all writers start there, at the very beginning, with an inspiration.

(This post originally appeared as part of The Superiors Blog Tour on Benjamin Wallace's blog. To see more of his blog, click here.)

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