In the last few days, I've been contemplating Writerly Inspiration, whence it comes, and how to translate it into useful action.
Much wordliness has been devoted to "How to Be Writerly Inspired For Dummies (or Non Writer Dummy Types)". Where to look, who to talk to. Do you do it in groups, or is it better scraped off the floor on your lonesome? Is it found at the bottom of a bottle, or from the crystal clear vision of transcendental meditation? Do you dream it, or be-hee-iiit? Whether one way, or multiple ways, it comes down to Doing It Your Own Way.
I have never actively sought inspiration for stories or characters. I know many people are going to groan, and hate this but...ideas just happen for me. I sometimes dream them; I have brain lightning; I sometimes have an image of a scene, character or idea and I stick it in the back of my mind to simmer, and my subconscious ends up spewing something back at me. Probably the most active search for inspiration I undertake at this time in my writing career is driving.
I read an interview with Peter Gabriel where he said driving works to calm his mind too. However, I don't actively jump in the car with the intent of clearing some writer's block, or forming a story in my head - not overly climate friendly "Uh yeah, my doorstop novel was written at the expense of dwindling fossil fuels. Yay me!" Driving Inspiration comes unbidden, on previously planned journeys.
It's lovely serendipitous inspiration. It usually happens when I'm the passenger, and gently nodding off or watching the scenery rush by unseen. I guess you could say I fall into a meditative state, and clear the pathways for my subconscious to talk.
When inspiration struck like this before I actively started working on my writing career, I filed the idea away in the back of my head for later interest. I have revived some of those ideas, but they aren't as fully formed as they should have been had I written myself notes. Revisiting the idea years, maybe even a decade, later, means the scene isn't as vivid.
Now, I carry a notebook everywhere with me. Just in the last six months, I've had two brain lightnings. Once I wrote for two hours solid when I arrived at my destination, writing up characters and plot lines for something that looked like a fantasy romance (how did that happen? I'm not even usually interested in that genre! Let's hope my idea is something different enough). I'm not in the right mindset to attempt a novel just yet (no NanoWrimo for me this year), but if I did, I think I might have something there.
The second brain lightning happened just this weekend past, and I startled myself by hearing the voice of a fully formed character in my head, having an actual conversation with another character. Golly gosh, I'm hearing voices? This character was most interesting, in a post-apocalyptic setting, and I wanted to hear more of what zie said. So I started - another! - piece.
My second source of inspiration comes from the support of the people I surround myself with, whether they know they're in my writing network or not. I follow a lot of really interesting writers and editors on Twitter and through their blogs. Seeing them talk daily of sales, fails, word counts, their writing tribulations, and industry politics, angst and triumphs is fantastic, normalizes the career of writing, and lets me know I'm not alone.
The Christchurch arm of SpecFicNZ meets on a monthly basis for a social outing, where each writer chats about what's happening in their writerly sphere. I'm hoping I'll be able to go on a regular basis. It's been quite an eye opener what a big community of writers there is in Christchurch. Having felt so cut off from writing for so long (on my own volition), it really is quite a wonder to find so many like minded people. Quite invigorating.
Though I do like being surrounded by interesting people if I'm in a social frame of mind, there are a lot of times where I just like being with myself. I like the quietness of writing. I like the thought of myself as a bit of a writing recluse. How earnest and slightly mystical, yes?
Inspiration. Don't push it. It'll happen.