Inspiration – where does it come from?

I often ponder this question. Given I’m a writer it seems particularly pertinent to me. But I wonder about it in a general sense too. I often worry about if there is a finite element to it – once you’ve used up your quota of inspiration, will that be it? Or is it an endless thing – that like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, that if you feed it your blood, sweat and tears, it will grow.

Sometimes it does feel rather monstrous – something that takes hold of me and won’t let me sleep or properly concentrate on other things with any sense of satisfaction until I’ve given it free reign and let it out to run around wildly for a while, spilling words out onto the page. I often look at those words later on and think to myself – ‘Wow! Did I write that?’ I often can’t really remember writing those words. Which is fine, because most of it is rubbish and it’s good to blame that on some out of head experience, but some of those words are pretty bloody good.

So, who is responsible for those words?

Is it me? Or is it my Muse? Is it something essential inside me – part of my character that will always be there, ready to tap into whenever I want to? Or is it something on loan from some greater being and could be taken away from me at any time? How do I cope with the answer being ‘yes’ to either question? How do others cope? When they have success, do they too wonder if it’s just an ephemeral dream, a one off thing, or if there is longevity to it; something that I can repeat again and again, get better and better at and add to that original dream of success (having a published novel) and turn it into multiple successes?

Is this my own version of a psychotic break, worrying and wondering about all this stuff?

I’m glad to say that it isn’t. I’m not alone in these thoughts. And if you’ve had them, you’re not alone either.

My lovely sister-in-law, Alice, sent me a link to a TED talk with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. I have never actually read this novel (I know, many of you will be thinking this is impossible for a lover of romantic fiction, but I like my romance more fantastical than realistic – the reason why I mostly read paranormal, fantasy and historical romance with some romantic suspense thrown in.) But, despite the fact I have never read her hugely popular novel, I really enjoyed her talk. I really related to what she had to say and I think, if you are someone who creates anything (which most of us are), then you will perhaps relate to it too.

So, like Alice shared it with me, I am now sharing it with you. Enjoy.

3 Comments on “Inspiration – where does it come from?”

  1. Thanks for the link. I’ll have to check it out – but eat, pray, love isn’t a novel it’s memoir – even more reason for you not to have read it, I reckon. 🙂

    1. It was an interesting talk. I actually thought it was a memoir too, but she talks about it like it is a novel and I also had a little flash of memory in the back of my head that I’d heard something about the fact that it wasn’t a memoir – although she wrote it like it was one – but that it was something she made up based a little bit on fact. But, I could be completely wrong about that – so don’t quote me. The brain is pretty tired at the moment. But yes, you are right, memoirs are not my ‘go to’ in my TBR pile. Although, I have read a few I’ve enjoyed – so I don’t completely count anything out!

  2. I’d seen that TED talk some time ago, and also thought it was very good.

    A growing observation in the IT/software/tech start-up circles is that ideas are cheap, it is implementation that brings value. There are so many “entrepreneurs” who think they’ve got the idea for the “next big thing” that is going to a) change the world, b) make them über-rich, etc., etc., and that they’ve now done the important, hard part, the rest of it (also known as succeeding) is just details. But the execution* of the idea is the make or break of success.

    (This is one reason why a lot of people are refusing to sign non-disclosure agreements for pitch meetings and the like these days.)

    (* and by execution, sometimes I mean the process of building and creating, and sometimes I mean the realisation you need to take it down the back paddock and shoot it to put it out of its misery.)

    Having the idea is the easy part, running with it and succeeding is trickier.

    I think the inspiration as you and Ms. Gilbert talk about goes beyond just having the idea (“Hey, I’ve got this great idea for a book, it involves sharks with frikkin’ lasers!”), but encompasses far more of the creative process of giving life and breath to the idea, working it and working it to fruition, getting those little inspirations along the way that shape things and gets you out of dead-ends (“Go and grab Evan’s runaway best seller, Jaws 2025!”).

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