8 Sources of Inspiration

Birth of IDEA. Concept background.Because of my eclectic interests, I rarely encounter writer’s block, but I do love the fact that inspiration for our writing is all around us.

Here are eight sources you may or may not have considered:

Conversation

Whether you are involved in a conversation or simply happen to overhear it, a word or a phrase may stick with you. Jot it down in that ever-present notebook . . . you know, the one you carry at all times.

Dreams

You know that long-lasting joy or heaviness that can hang over you when you wake up from a dream—even if you don’t remember the details? Try to evoke strong emotion in your readers that will stick with them long after they forget your words.

And, of course, a scene or spoken phrase from a dream may also act as inspiration for your writing.

Thoughts while Drifting Off

You know those moments when your thoughts take flight? Those thoughts are not quite linear and may head off on bizarre tangents. Why not let yourself drift for a while and then record some of your thoughts in the notebook you keep by your bed.

Old Photos

I love old photos, even if I have no personal connection with the subjects. Thumb through some old black and white pics and see what stories begin to stir in you.

New Photos

Even if you don’t consider yourself a photographer, grab your camera (or your smartphone) and head out for a photo walk. Just snap away . . . anything that captures your attention. When you get home, go through the pictures and see what ideas come to mind. Life is different when seen through the lens.

Online Memes

You may love them or find them exceedingly annoying, but take a look at the pictures people post online that include an inspirational, funny, or sarcastic saying. One or more of them may jump off the page at you and stir your creativity.

Days Gone By

Ever been standing in a store and heard a song that took you back to your youth? Ever seen children at the park and thought, “Hey, I used to play that when I was growing up”? Take a walk down memory lane and see what inspiration presents itself.

Favorite Movie or Book Characters

It is commonly referred to as fan fiction—and you have to be especially careful about copyright restrictions if you plan to publish it—but it can be a lot of fun basing a story on one of your favorite characters. If nothing else, it will give you practice writing fiction and that’s a very good thing.

Where do you get inspiration when the well seems dry? We’d love to hear from you.


team.stephanie_120x140_2015

 

by Stephanie Nickel , CES Editor, Writer, Coach, and Critique Specialist 

 

 

Please visit our websites: Christian Editing ServicesCreating Christian Books for KidsPray for Ministries around the World, and Find Christian Links 

Questions? Email karen@ChristianEditingServices.com 

Fear of the Blank Page

Notebook and penThere you sit, pen in hand, a brand new notebook on the desk in front of you.

The page is so clean, so smooth, so pristine.

You take a deep breath and lift your hand.

But no . . .

What if you make a mistake? What if the ideas won’t come? What if they come but then branch off in a hundred different directions?

What if the spark inside you fizzles and dies as soon as you put pen to paper?

But . . .

What if it doesn’t?

What if that spark fuels a raging fire and the first blazing word is just the beginning of a sentence filled with warmth and light . . . a paragraph . . . an entire book?

You’ll never know until you face your fear.

Here are a half dozen ways to overcome:

  1. Copy your favorite writing-related quote on the first page of your notebook. When you need inspiration, consider it your secret weapon.
  2. Hand off the task of filling that first page. Allow your child to draw a picture or write a poem. Ask each member of your writers’ group to list their #1 writing goal. Find a picture in a magazine that stirs your imagination and stick it on the page. (Okay, so in this case you’ve actually done the work, but you didn’t have to think of anything profound to say. [grin])
  3. Open the closest book at random. Copy the first two-syllable word you see onto the top of the page. Use it as the spring board for a five-minute freewriting session. And now the page is full—and perhaps you’ve gained inspiration for Page 2 and beyond.
  4. Close your eyes and imagine yourself protecting a frightened child. Look all around. Take note of every sight, every sound, every smell. Now, open your eyes and write about it in great detail.
  5. Put on some music that gets your blood pumping and write—just write.

And if that first page is bad—really bad?

  1. Well, there’s always Page 2.

Have you ever experienced fear of the blank page? What did you do to overcome it?


team.stephanie_120x140_2015

 

by Stephanie Nickel , CES Editor, Writer, Coach, and Critique Specialist 

 

Please visit our websites: Christian Editing ServicesCreating Christian Books for KidsPray for Ministries around the World, and Find Christian Links 

Questions? Email karen@ChristianEditingServices.com 


 

Get in Your “Write” Mind

And then God answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.”
Habakkuk 2:2 MSG

Holy SpiritOn my past blogs, I have shared samples of some of the stories I have written for my family. After my grandmothers’ passing, I realized much of their legacy would be lost if someone didn’t document their stories. The great-great-grandbabies being born now might never know how our family came to Christ. I wanted to document as much of it as I could.

I’d like to point out that you don’t have to be a Karen Kingsbury to write your family’s story. Just start writing. Don’t dwell too much on proper language mechanics. Just get your story on paper. There are people with large gifts of writing who can help you bring your story to life. The main thing is for you to dust off your keyboard or pick up your pen and get busy writing. Your family will thank you.

After a loved one has died, I’ve never heard adult children say, “They wrote down too many things. I don’t have time to read all the stories they jotted down.” But I have heard many of them say, “Oh, I wish I would have had my grandmother write down that funny story or favorite recipe. Man, I’d give anything to ask Grandma about that!”

You have a story and even possibly a book inside you. Don’t listen to anyone or anything that tries to insinuate you are not smart enough! Time is marching on. Soon it will be too late. Begin today. Your family will be very thankful for the gift you’ve left for them. Get in your “write” mind today.

I would like to share my great-grandmother’s testimony with you. Six generations have been influenced for Jesus because of her choice to follow Christ. One woman, one choice, and six generations! Amazing, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy the story of my great-grandmother Ada Stillion.

One Woman, One Choice, Six Generations

Ada poured the last few drops of the bottle of rubbing alcohol into her cup of coffee. Taking a big gulp, she growled at her husband, “Ed, we’re out of moonshine, and I’ve used the last of my rubbing alcohol to stop these tremors!”

Edward hissed back, “Addie, you best get on down to your brother Mel’s house and get us some more brew. We’re low on cash, and if we could do some bootlegging, it might help get us caught up.”

Ada’s brother lived in Metropolis, Illinois, eight hours away from the small town in Iowa where Ada’s family lived. Every few months Ada and her daughter, Nettie, would take a trip to load up on some of Kentucky’s white lightning. They would bring some home and sell most of it to their kinfolks, who were slaves to whiskey too, but this trip God had something else planned for forty-five-year-old Ada Stillion, something that would change her life forever.

“Mel, it’s so good to see you!” Ada cooed as she hugged her older brother.

“Ada!” Mel exclaimed. “So much has happened to my family since we last saw you.”

“You got any good whiskey?” Ada asked. “I’m spitting cotton. Let’s sit down and have a stiff drink and then you can tell me all about it.”

“Addie, I don’t drink anymore.” Mel shook his head. “You’ll find no whiskey in our house! I’ve met Jesus!”

Ada shot back, “Are you trying to tell me that you done got religion?”

“No, Addie! I met Jesus.” Mel reached for his sister’s hand. “Tonight we’re having revival meetings at our church. Oh, Addie, you’ve just got to come. I have found what we’ve been searching for.”

“Church? You want me to go to church?” Ada’s eyebrows stood at attention. “I ain’t never been to church in my life!”

Nettie stiffened and poked her elbow in Ada’s side. “Ma and me are going to Kentucky tonight. We’ve got some important business to tend to. Don’t we, Ma?”

Mel’s moist eyes met Ada’s. “Please come. You’ll find what we’ve been looking for our whole lives.”

“Well, I guess going to one church service ain’t gonna kill us,” Ada chuckled. “What time should we be ready?”

“Seven o’clock sharp!” Mel let out a whoop. . . .

“Listen to that beautiful singing!” Ada motioned for Nettie to sit on the back pew. “Have you ever heard such singing?”

Nettie snarled, “Don’t know why they are singing about blood. That’s kind of gory, don’t you think, Ma?”

Ada pressed her finger to her lips. “Shhhhh. Listen!”

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus!

Ada sat mesmerized by what she heard and felt.

After the singing a minister stood behind the pulpit. “We all are sinners and need a Savior.”

Ada had flashbacks of her daughters and how alcohol had robbed them of a decent childhood.

The pastor invited all who wanted their sins forgiven to come forward and kneel at the altar. Ada stood to her feet, walked down the aisle, and knelt at the altar. The minister prayed with her and then asked her if she would like to pray.

Tears poured down Ada’s cheeks. She called out to God for the first time in her life. “Lord, forgive me of my sins and make me worthy to be called mother.”

When Ada stood to her feet, she knew she was a new creature in Christ. Old things had passed away and all things were new!

“Nettie, we aren’t going to Kentucky to buy any whiskey!” The trip to Kentucky was canceled. Ada never touched another drop of liquor the rest of her days. She lived to be ninety-two years old and shared her salvation experience with anyone who would listen.

Ada Stillion was my great-grandmother. Her decision to follow Christ has impacted six generations. She followed Christ. Her daughter accepted Jesus. Her granddaughter invited the Lord into her heart. Her great-granddaughter committed her life to Jesus. Her great-great-granddaughter dedicated her heart and life to the Lord, and even Ada’s great-great-great granddaughter has given her life to Christ.

Great-Grandmother could have left our family a legacy of alcoholism and abuse; instead she left us a legacy of God’s amazing love. God answered her prayer and made her worthy to be called Mother. In fact, He made her a spiritual mother of many.


by Dixie Phillips, CES Editor, Writing Coach, Award-Winning Children’s Author and Songwriter 

Please visit our websites: Christian Editing Services and Find Christian Links 

Keep Your Eyes Open

I want to encourage all you writers to keep your eyes open and your notebook handy. Young man with lensYou never know where and when inspiration will strike. A sunset. A snippet of conversation. Something you read.

Here are some suggestions on how to capture those moments:

  1. Keep a small notebook handy to record those things that strike you. If you carry a cell phone that has a camera, snap a picture of a visual that inspires you. (Be careful not to take pictures of identifiable property or strangers without permission.)
  2. Not sure if you should record something? Do it! Better to have several ideas you never use than forget that one you wish you could remember.
  3. Don’t worry if you have no idea how you will include what grabs your attention in your writing. When my son was in his mid-teens, he wanted a pair of army boots. Being the silly mom that I am, I bought him a pair that were several sizes too large, thinking maybe, just maybe, he might grow into them. He wore them to church shortly after that only to be asked by a dear, elderly friend of ours, “Hey, boots, where are you taking that boy?” I love it! Have I ever used it except in this kind of context? No, but I’m sure I will. It was just too priceless to forget.
  4. Pay particular attention to situations, places, and people you would normally walk right past without noticing. Writers—and all creatives—must learn to see beyond their normal range of vision.
  5. Remember to take your notebook and your camera on business trips, vacations, walks around the neighborhood. The funny thing about inspiration is that it can strike when you least expect it. Cliché as that sounds, it’s true. The more you train yourself to see it, the more inspiration will be ev-ery-where.
  6. Periodically, leaf through your notebook and your photos. You never know when something will strike you afresh and inspire your fingers to fly over the keyboard.

What inspires your writing? How do you keep track of those flashes of inspiration?

by Stephanie Nickel , CES Editor, Writer, Coach, and Critique Specialist

Please visit our websites: Christian Editing Services and Find Christian Links

Nostalgia-Inspired Writing

Nostalgia

by Stephanie Nickel , CES Editor, Writer, Coach, and Critique Specialist


I took my daughter out for lunch to celebrate her new job. While we were at the mall, we popped into a video store that carried DVDs of all the old—and new—TV shows. Talk about a walk down Memory Lane. There were shows I’d long forgotten and those I remembered fondly—plus those at which I shake my head and wonder why I ever watched, but, as the saying goes, that’s another story.

After that we popped into a Laura Secord’s. French mint chocolates and chocolate bars. Jellied fruit slices. Butterscotch kiddy pops. Even a discussion with the clerk about Laura Secord Easter eggs. Talk about reawakening memories of my youth—and possibly adding a pound or two just through osmosis.

It’s funny what will stir “the warm fuzzies” inside us. And while they’re stirred, let’s use them to fuel our writing.

Try one or more of these ideas . . .

1. Think about your earliest memory and write a journal entry as if you were that child.

2. List the #1 thing for each sense that evokes happy memories (i.e.: the smell of warm chocolate chip cookies; the taste of maple walnut ice cream, etc.). Incorporate all of them into a short story.

3. Visit a video rental store and borrow a DVD of a TV show or movie you watched as a child. Before you watch it, describe it as you remember it. After you view it, write your current thoughts. (My husband and I got up in the wee hours of the morning to watch an episode of “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” Believe me, we only did that once. [grin]) We have definitely been spoiled by advanced special effects, high-calibre scriptwriting, and excellent delivery by the actors—in many cases at least.

4. Search the Internet for pictures of toys from your childhood. When you come across one of your favorites, write a conversation between yourself and a young child who has never seen the toy.

5. Search YouTube for songs from your youth or your favorite musical artists from the era. Listen to one or more of these songs and use them to jumpstart a freewriting session.

6. Make a point-form list of your top ten happy memories. Use them to inspire a poem.

And if you’ve had a challenging past, memories can still spark your writing. Use even the difficult times to help you determine what nonfiction topics to write about. Use these times, too, to make your fiction characters three-dimensional. No matter how happy, no one’s past is completely carefree.