- Books, Literature, and Writing
Five Ways For Poets And Writers To Find Inspiration
THE DILEMMA WE FACE AS WRITERS
This article is for all of you who need some inspiration. We hear often about writer’s block, the strange malady that affects us all from time to time, where our brains shrivel up and ne’er can be found an inspirational thought.
I have said from time to time that the quickest way to destroy writer’s block is to simply write. Wasn’t it Edison who once said that invention is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration? If so, he still needed that one percent, and it is that one percent that we will discuss today.
Where do we find it? Where is that slick devil hiding when we sit down at our computer and try to force the words out? We squeeze our brains and twist our minds up into pretzels and still the elusive inspiration remains unfelt. What do we do?
Perhaps these five suggestions will help. If not, fall back on Plan B and just write. J
FIND INSPIRATION FROM THE WORKS OF OTHERS
We all have a special writer who inspires us, right? I have several who I fall back on when I need the little boost. Harper Lee will always be my number one go-to, but there are others. Leo Buscaglia gets my juices flowing as does James Lee Burke. I can read five pages of Steinbeck and my brain starts to explode with ideas, and Og Mandino also has the ability, through his writing, to kick start my mind when needed.
Who is it for you? If you have a favorite author then call on them for help. Teleport yourselves into another place and time through their writings, and experience all that they want you to experience. You just might find that inspiration lies in the words of another.
FIND INSPIRATION THROUGH YOUR SENSES
Hey, you have five senses. You might as well use them. See me, feel me, hear me, smell me and taste me. Okay, a little weird but you get the point. Put on some of your favorite music and soak in the sounds. I can put on a song by the Beatles and my mind starts to wander, and pretty soon I’m walking the streets of Liverpool with the Fab Five.
Take a walk in nature. Smell the flowers, touch the leaves, watch a hawk fly overhead and listen to the sound of the wind rustling the trees.
Do some cooking and let the aromas stir your imagination. When I make a grilled cheese sandwich I am reminded of growing up in Tacoma, Washington, and my mother lovingly making that lunch for me during the summer. Those memories, in turn, inspire me to write about childhood and life in the 50’s and 60’s. After sixty-four years I have a treasure chest of ideas in my mind, and sometimes I need to ask my senses to bring back some of those memories. They are all in my head waiting for me; they just might need a little stimulus.
FIND INSPIRATION THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE
Every single one of us has a story. We are a walking, talking compilation of experiences.
Go talk to a neighbor about their childhood. I had the most fascinating couple living next to me when I was growing up. Sam and Delores Conrad arrived in Washington state as kids having crossed the country in a covered wagon. Talk about inspiration!
Of course, you really don’t have to talk to anyone to find inspiration. Simply observe people who are out and about. Why is that young woman smiling at the bus stop? Why does that old woman look so sad? How did that homeless guy reach that point in his life, where his only possessions neatly fit in a grocery cart? You are surrounded by stories. All you have to do is be receptive to them.
FIND INSPIRATION FROM WITHIN
How many of you meditate? How many of you do yoga? These are wonderful techniques that allow our minds to empty of distractions and tune in to the internal messages.
Learn proper deep breathing. Close your eyes and clear your mind. Find total relaxation and then let your mind wander. We are bombarded daily by a never-ending onslaught of sights and sounds. Oftentimes we have sensory overload and it is damn near impossible to find inspiration. Our minds are running a ten-mile race in a hundred square foot room.
FIND INSPIRATION THROUGH YOUR FAITH
No, I am not necessarily talking about formal religion. I think we all have faith in something. During my time in Alcoholics Anonymous I have heard many stories of addicts finding a Higher Power that they can consider more powerful than themselves. For some it is nature. For some it is another person that they respect and yes, for many it is a God of their understanding. Some find faith in their family and some find it in acts of courage that they have witnessed.
Whenever I need to get in touch with the core of my faith I travel to Mount Rainier, an hour’s drive from my home. There, sitting among the towering evergreens and listening to the sounds of nature, I am one with my faith and I am instantly inspired.
Are you experiencing writer's block?
NOW SAY GOODBYE TO WRITER’S BLOCK
Well, hopefully you can say goodbye to writer’s block after using some of these suggestions. As writers we need to be inspired. Without inspiration we would all sound like a recital of the encyclopedia and heaven help us if that ever happens.
I am not certain of this next statement but I suspect it is true. Given enough time I’m willing to bet that I can teach a chimpanzee to print letters of the alphabet. Given enough time and patience, I’m even willing to bet that I can teach that chimpanzee to write a few words. However, that does not make him/her a writer. Technically they might be writing words but they are not writers. Yes, they are lacking intellect and reasoning, but they are also lacking something that is unique to the human species and oh so important to writers.
They are lacking inspiration.
May you find the inspiration you need to go forth and achieve great things. Remember that the world is waiting to read your words. Remember that the world needs the beauty that you can provide through your words. We can educate, motivate, inspire and elicit laughter through our words. All we need do is tap into that inspiration that is within each of us.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)