Where do Writing Ideas and Inspiration Come From?

One of the reasons writers write and talk about writing is because they don’t know what is the source of their ideas and they would like to find it by talking about it.

For the same reason, nobody can teach you to write. Those who study writing are able to dissect stories with a precision of a surgeon, to shred it into the tiniest bits, to understand the shape of a successful story and that is something that can be learned, but nobody can teach you how to create such a story.

The same way you can undestand that human beings consists of certain molecules, and you can measure that in high precision, but you can’t just take a bunch of molecules, put them in a dish and cook them until you and create a living being, or can you?

Something like that requiers two cells coming together in a perfect growing environmet.

Therefore, one of the questions you must never ask a writer is:

“Where do you get your ideas?”

That question is frustrating because there isn’t a right answer. If you know someone who can answer you that questions, please introduce me to them.

Many define inspiration as something that pushes writers to leave words on their paper or screens one day after the other, but that is closer to motivation than inspiration.

Inspiration is something that happens after days, months, and sometimes even years of thinking and writing down your ideas; inspiration is the AHA moment when all your pieces come together and you could see the clear picture. Someone who never thought about writing can’t suddenly become inspired.

First, there must be a desire to write a novel or any other piece.

Then, you sit down and think about what you could write and one of the ideas will sooner or later become appealing enough to hold on to it.

The next step is to expand the idea. You think about the characters, the places, the time and the events. You wonder why something happened, how something happened, what is the cause and what are the consequences of the events. 

Once you finish all of that, then you end up with a rough sketch of your story and you can start writing. Soon enough, you realize that your story is going of the tracks; that’s completely fine.

You spend all that time writing, but you’re not inspired. That kind of writing requires a working class discipline; each day you must dedicate a block of time for writing; whether you like it or not. Otherwise, you will never finish your work.

The more time you spend writing, the story, characters, events which you’re describing become your obsession; you’re thinking about them outside the timeframe dedicated to writing; you start living in your own world; the world of your story, which can get on the nerves of the people close to you, but if they really love you, they will support you and understand you.

After you spend enough time dreaming, moving people and events from one place to another, turning the fabric of your story inside out, inspiration happens; it’s that moment when your story gets to a surprising yet inevitable turn of events. It’s the voice which tells you in which direction the story MUST go.

In my case, inspiration goes away quickly, and it often comes in the shape of a dream, or a tiny thought because of which I need to stop everything and to write down the idea that hit me. 

That moment when I’m certain of the direction of my story, the everyday task of pure writing becomes less terrifying.

If you ask me, subconscious is responsible for all of all of that.

The duty of a writer is to gather information and feed the subconscious mind and it will, when the time comes, repay him with a single idea which a writer could turn into a piece of art.

The most difficult part of that job is to be patient and to be able to recognize such an idea.

Therefore, if you want to be a writer, sit down and write, each and every day. Turn that into a habit, like brewing your coffee or brushing your teeth.

Try to do it everyday at the same time, if your schedule allows such a thing.

I write each morning between 5:00 and 8:00 am and afternoon between 12:00 and 3:00 pm.

I’ve been doing this for long enough, so now, when I sit in my chair and turn on my laptop, my brain knows that it’s time for writing.

Most often, I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write about. I sit there and I wait for something to happen.

I only have one rule, which I stole from Neil Gaiman, and it goes like this.

“From 5 to 8, I’m only allowed to write or to do nothing at all.” 

The second part is crucial because it doesn’t oblige me to write; if I don’t want to write I always have the option to do nothing.

Doing nothing is boring. While I sit there and drink my coffee I start noticing thoughts circling around my head. Once I grab one, I start writing about it.

If I don’t like it, I delete everything I’ve written and I wait for another one.

Sometimes I need to spin the wheel of thoughts manually. I take a look at the ideas I’ve written in my notebook or phone and I wonder how could I expand them. 

But, I’m not in a hurry. I sit and wait for a single thought to drop from a whirlpool so I could catch her.

When I finally have her in my hand, I hold her tight and I listen to her.

Sometimes, I finish my writing before 8am or 3pm, but I don’t resent myself; the important thing is that I’ve written something that day.

Sometimes, it takes me longer to get loose of the idea, but I don’t resent myself for that either.