Waiting For Inspiration

I’ve been chipping away at my book. I’m going to write it linearly even though I have an outline that would allow me to pick up and write at any point. The reason is simple, I write organically through inspiration.

As such, my outline is now tentative. Maybe more of an idea to aspire to rather than anything set in stone.

The question is, do I wait for inspiration before writing?

I know this is contrary to NaNo WriMo in that nano beliefs are that writing more and more and more is what drives inspiration. That by sitting down and banging out word after word something good will come of it. And in some ways, that’s right. Writing something, anything, is good for the mind.

But I’d like to defend waiting for inspiration.

I’m currently at a cross roads. It’s the point at which one character, Molly, finally goes off the deep end. She’s lost any hope at having a stable relationship with a man, she’s staring down a woman who has no shame or self consciousness while Molly is wracked by that due to her society friends, and her best friend is now off in relationship/sex la la land. It is also where I have deep character development between Dom and Victoria where she acts as a surrogate for Molly in his life. There is a lot happening in the span of 10k words. It’s the third chapter and it drives everything that happens. It has to be right from the beginning.

It has to be right because it establishes all the future actions of the book. I can’t just plow through it and hope for the best to come out. I’ve tried that in the past and it’s a bad idea. If I just say “the hell with it” I might waste the entire book. In short, I have to do it perfectly before moving on.

I need inspiration for how this is all going to work out. Inspiration is part of the creative process. Waiting around all day for it to happen is a bad idea for writing an entire book, but sometimes that “a ha” moment is necessary for things to come together and knit.

One thing that does help is writing about what I want to do. Getting my fingers moving on what I want to come next. It helps. It helps form an outline in my head and understand the characters better. But I still need that spark, that moment of inspiration to happen, however it happens, but banging out words isn’t going to get me anywhere. It’s just going to be a waste of time. And I’ve tried punting and getting it out of the way, but nothing comes because I have no inspiration behind what to do next, no kernel of insight to work off of.

It’s why I don’t believe in writing every single day about the same thing. It’s why I have this blog, it keeps me going but also keeps my mind off of what I have to do next. It’s a distraction, but it’s also good for me creatively. My writing muscles are still flexed, to some degree, but my mind isn’t plagued by the downtrodden bulk of what to write next.

And then of course there are just days that I don’t want to write for any particular reason. Or I have a bad day. Yesterday was one of those days. I listened to music for hours and had a synesthetic experience. And what happened next was today, one where I feel like I have a grip on what to do.

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10 responses to “Waiting For Inspiration

  1. I wait for inspiration before I write, which is why I write tiny bits at a time. They add up slowly. I find it helps to do something like play a mindless game, to escape completely.

    • I blog, it helps to get my fingers moving. It also makes me think about what the hell I’m doing as a writer. I’m writing right now.

      I’m also coming off of a breaking bad marathon. I don’t want to emulate the story telling, but being exposed to genius writing tends to help me figure things out. The Jesse-Walt relationship is something I’m dissecting because I feel that it could be useful some day and I just love breaking stories down. I think that’s the sound engineer/mathematician/philosopher in me, I have to know how things are put together.

  2. I think you’re right in saying waiting for inspiration can be just as good – I recently got back into writing my story because I had one really good day when I just wanted to write and I ended up with four new chapters (and a potentially more mature writing style). The only problem was that it took about three years for the inspiration to carry on writing it. (Recently had a drop in inspiration/motivation so here’s to hoping it doesn’t take as long this time)

    I really enjoyed reading your UpMeDownMe posts so I wish you all the best in writing this one!

    • I think I’ll put up the rest today. Right now I’m writing a particularly difficult series of interactions between three dysfunctional people. One person who was cheated on and is currently imploding, one who was lied to and stole all of the adulterer’s money and has massive trust issues, and the third is someone who gave everything he could to a woman and was ignored.

      It’s one of those chapters where everything explodes and the book forks into its emotional arcs.

      I’m also experimenting with a completely different way of doing dialog. No long exchanges, just one line here and there because I think that 90% of all dialog is useless to a story. It’s usually just a line or two that we really care about.

      • Do you ever find that, when writing scenes with high levels of emotion, your writing becomes over-dramatic? That’s a problem I have but I can never decide whether it’s a good thing or not (perhaps it’s just me getting carried away with the heavily emotional scenes).

        Yeah, short dialog can be really effective. With lots of speech the meaning can get lost but with very few words it emphasises the importance of that particular word/phrase. I actually tried something similar recently where the only thing the main character said was “I’m sorry. Thank you, ma’am” but I switched the context so when he said it again at the end it meant something different and changed the way you looked at it.

        I look forward to seeing how this goes. It sounds like you’re at quite a tricky stage in the story and I’d love to see how you manage to write it πŸ™‚

      • I try really hard to keep the adjective salad down when writing emotional parts. I’m a huge film fan and I try to channel von Trier who comes from the Dogma 95 tradition and heavily emphasizes visuals for emotions in a stark way. It makes it so you have to pay close attention to what is happening in the film, but gorgeous to watch.

        The downside to my aversion is that I often write chapters, in rough draft, that are only about 4k long. All my books always look like they’ll be only 60k words long. But then I go back and fill in and they blow up.

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