You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club. Jack London
Inspiration comes from many places. Sometimes, it’s a visual image—fog settling over the bay, a blue jay teetering on a phone wire, a dead leaf swirling on the wind. Sometimes, inspiration comes in the form of sound—a phrase overheard, the sound of water rushing over rocks, silence when the power goes out. But too often, inspiration doesn’t just come out of the blue—I have to go hunting for it.
One of my favorite ways to find inspiration is to read the work of others—poetry, fiction, nonfiction. As a writer, we train ourselves while reading to have different levels of awareness running at the same time. Kind of like having multiple computer programs running at once.
On one level, we’re fully immersed in the story or poem, but on another level we’re noticing language, syntax, the arrangement of words, metaphors, rhythm. We notice how the author or poet uses concretes and abstractions, how she presents her characters or builds suspense.
As you read, notice if the piece grabs you. And, if it does, where does that happen? Be on the lookout for what inspires your muse.
Sometimes, an idea or inspiration will come in the form of one word. One wild word that sparks your muse into action. Read more