On thinking on command

Me: Okay, brain, it's time to dig in now.  You really are a writer, and you have an exciting new opportunity.  You need an idea for a story.

Brain: Pffft! I am ze arteest!  I do not look for ze inspiration, ze inspiration, it finds me!

Me: Well, yes, that's true most of the time, but being a published author can't only work like that, and we want to be one of those one day.  First, you master finding ideas.  When you start writing the story, you can let the ideas master you and take you in unexpected directions.

Brain: I would prefer to look at ze pictures of pretty men and ponder ze deliciousness of zis coffee.

Me: I...uh...yeah, me too.

But still, life can't work like that.  I'm the first to admit that my first novel (nearly complete as I type this) was the product of nothing more than a flash of random inspiration that sprung out of absolutely nowhere.  The second novel (about 50% written) came while watching The Matrix.  That's the fun part.  The work part comes 2.3 seconds later when, buzzing with excitement, I have to think of how on earth I'm going to spin that one cool seed of idea into a fully-fledged book.  This means thought.  A lot of it.  Pretty words are just pretty words if they're not saying anything.  The story is as important - or moreso - than the language you couch it in, and not every nuance of plot or structure is going to present itself wrapped in a bow while you're vacuuming or baking cookies.

Now, buzzing with excitement for a different reason - a fun new project a friend's just asked me to be involved in (more details on that to come, I hope) - I need to start one step closer to the beginning.  I have no clue what this story is going to be about.  Prompts in the form of words and pictures have been generously offered by twitter friends, but none have so far really "spoken" to me in the way an idea has to for me to get excited about it.

Now, it's tempting to procrastinate.  It always is.  The problem there is that I need to have at least part of this thing written by this Friday, which doesn't give a lot of time for mooching around on the internet while I wait for my muse to hit me in the head with a rubber chicken.  I need to think, to make myself be inspired by something.  And I need to believe in myself, believe that the right idea WILL come to me.  If you need me, I'll be spending most of the morning on weheartit and browsing lists of fun words.

And drinking coffee and looking at pictures of pretty men, because hey, you never know.

Where do you find your ideas?



Ang said...

I, like you, am inspired in the most random moments. Those random moments mean I am forever scratching in a notebook that I keep in my purse, because I don't want to forget the sparks that come to me throughout the day.

I am most often inspired by a sort of tangential thought that I allow to build and build into something with more depth. Example: I hate this plot device. What if this happened instead?

An hour later, I'm scrambling through vague ideas that all connect somehow to form a more solid story.

I am also inspired heavily by music. To what may be an unhealthy degree, perhaps. But I'll bet you knew that.

- ang

P.S. I am Jack's Raging Jealousy. 1.5 novels done???

Jo22Twilight said...

Loved the dialogue you had with your brain LOL I'm not a writer, so I can't answer your question, but I did try to write twific once and the plot idea came to me from a song by OceanLab called On the Beach. I think music and visual arts are the biggest sources of inspiration for writers of fiction.

hphall said...

I just wrote a short story - 10k words inspired by a 25 word craigslist post. It seems like the more abstract and limited a snippet, the more I can run. Give me a picture, a snippet of conversation, a what if (oh how I love what ifs)...

sometimes I'll just hit corbis, plug in a term and start searching for inspiration. It's amazing what can trigger.

Brie said...

I once wrote 3,000 words based on a song from RENT. Granted, this is an incomplete story but that's neither here nor there. Most of my inspiration for anything comes from music.

I tried to get my brain to write on command during school but then it laughed at me and told me to take a nap. So I did. It's had that power over me ever since. *shakes fist*

icmezzo said...

I very, very rarely am inspired by music or a word. A photo, maybe, on occassion, if I'm luckly. Mostly I look to my past for ideas when I don't stumble upon them naturally. I look back until I can uncover even a tiny moment, a small event. Doesn't have to be a time of gut-wrenching sorrow or a moment when I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe, but those work too. And from there, I spin my mind and enlarge that tiny moment into something greater, something more, something it could have been, were it not experienced by me but had the freedom to blossom in someone else's hands.

But that's just me. :)

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