What Inspires You and How?

Jelly_blue_party_18598_hIn the overall scheme of writing things, it is relatively easy to get inspired.  (See my list of things that inspire me at the end of this article.) But the more important question is: how do things inspire you?  What is the process by which inspiration translates to action?

Having inspiration is meaningless if it doesn't propel you to do something about it. Inspiration is a thought that lodges in your head and, hopefully, moves you to action.  Most often inspiration moves me to write, but I can also be inspired to donate money to a cause, volunteer time, call a friend, book a trip, buy an item of clothing–you name it.

I'm interested not only in the things that inspire us but also the process by which this works.  Here's my theory: a thought or idea enters your head or an event occurs, which creates emotion, and that emotion moves you to act.  For instance, I read a blog which tells a story about a suffering family (idea)which creates sympathy (emotion)which moves me to donate to aid their support (action).

I know, I know.  This is somewhat obvious, at least in theory.  In reality in can be murky as all hell and sometimes the first two steps get engaged but the last, and most important, lies dormant.  And that is what truly interests me–idea to emotion to action.

The process might not be quite so clear cut for writing inspiration, because, as we all know, the muse works in mysterious ways.  Sometimes it works in an oblique way, as in I watch somebody, say, an athlete, excel at an activity and that makes me want to go excel in my own activity of writing.  The important thing to recognize is what actually makes you get up from the couch and go write.

To activate the process of inspiration, you first have to look for it.  To assist you in that endeavor, I've listed some of the ways that I get inspired below.  Steal as many ideas from it as you want and use them as you compile your own list.  Think of it as an ongoing, ever-changing list. And then expose yourself to these sources of inspiration as often as possible to allow it to motivate you to take action.

The Inspiration List

1. My family

2. My friends

3. My clients

4. Napping

5. Walking

6. Reading

7. Writing (of course! Writing inspires more writing.)

8. Travel

9. Movies

10. Story

11. Flowers

12. Freedom

13. Athletic Events

14. Counting my blessings

15. Animals

16.  To be continued…

Now, tell me.  What is your process of getting inspired?  What will you add to your inspiration list? Please let us know in the comments.

And remember, there's still time to sign up for the one night teleclass on Authenticity + Creativity.  Click on this page to learn more, it's going to rock!


Photo (its a jellyfish) by Steve Jurvetson.

14 Responses to What Inspires You and How?

  1. Sandy 07/04/2012 at 07:32 #

    Food, particularly the Food Network (I’m addicted). I see something that looks particularly appetizing and I want to cook it, or something similar. Sometimes that creativity in the kitchen leads to creativity on the page.

    Most of the ones on your list make my list as well, particularly #4. 😉

  2. Charlotte Dixon 07/04/2012 at 08:00 #

    Ooh, food is a good one, I'm going to add it to my list also!  And I love the Food Network as well.  Also love watching its sister, HGTV.  That's a good one for house inspiration.  And it is all good inspiration for writing!

  3. CB Soulsby 07/04/2012 at 10:02 #

    I find reading blogs (like this one) very inspiring!

    Support is also really inspiring. I entered a flash fiction contest and the fact that four people clicked the “like” button on my first ever attempt at flash fiction really inspired me to work on my novel and tackle a tricky chapter I’d been avoiding for a week.

  4. Sandy 07/04/2012 at 11:02 #

    You’re absolutely right, CB. Thanks in large part to the support I’ve gotten on Twitter and various forums, I’ve banged out over 52k words on my novel in roughly eight weeks and WILL finish the first draft by my Labor Day deadline (self-imposed). It’s great having a community that understands to fall back on.

  5. Charlotte Dixon 07/04/2012 at 11:06 #

    Oh yay!  I'm so pleased you published some flash fiction and people really liked it.  And I'm also pleased that this blog inspires you.  I get really inspired reading blogs, also.  There are some really good ones out there!

  6. Charlotte Dixon 07/04/2012 at 11:08 #

    We're lucky to be writers and lucky to be able to find a like-minded community.  Nothing like the good feeling you get when somebody actually understands what you mean by "viewpoint" or "backstory," or any other writing term.  52K words in 8 weeks is fantastic, Sandy!

  7. J.D. 07/04/2012 at 18:34 #

    Inspiration? I wait for the Muse and she is taking her sweet time. Unable to reach the lamp or to push away the dark, I sing:

    Wake me up inside
    Save me
    call my name and save me from the dark
    Wake me up
    bid my blood to run
    before I come undone
    save me from the nothing I’ve become.

    Those lyrics come from Evanescence. Amy Lee sang them. And that’s what I sing, waiting for the Muse.

  8. Charlotte Dixon 07/04/2012 at 22:22 #

    Love the song, but sometimes I think you've got to force that muse into submission. She likes to arrive in the middle of writing, I find, so its best just to get started!

  9. Heather Jenkins 07/05/2012 at 08:56 #

    Another great and inspiring post, Charlotte.

    Here are mine:
    1. My husband’s cooking – mostly his chicken wings. Honest. The man has a gift.
    2. Traffic – drivers, their cars, and how I can tell a lot about them by the way they drive and respond to my brakes.
    3. Quietness
    4. Candid photos
    5. Stolen moments where people think I’m not listening or watching – those are the ones that tell me the most
    6. A cathartic verbal journaling session with friends
    7. Words
    8. Passion
    9. Truth
    10. An afternoon nap with Squeaks on my lap

    I know there are a ton more. I, like you, don’t wait for the muse to strike. I just write. When I can because I can.

  10. Patrick Ross 07/05/2012 at 09:08 #

    Oh, you know I love this topic! Great gateway into exploring the creative process.

    Gotta get to workshop, but let me add one to the list: bacon.

  11. Charlotte Dixon 07/05/2012 at 09:32 #

    I love this list!  And can I please come to your house for chicken wings sometime?

  12. Charlotte Dixon 07/05/2012 at 09:33 #

    Oh Patrick, you gave me my first big belly laugh of the day, made all the better because of your relationship with a certain Mr. Bacon.

  13. Heather Jenkins 07/05/2012 at 09:48 #

    My hubby would love it! You are welcome any time. :)

  14. Charlotte Dixon 07/05/2012 at 16:55 #

    On my way.  I'll bring wine.

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