Thursday, March 5, 2015

Waiting for Inspiration

First, let me make something clear. When I say "waiting for inspiration," I don't mean literally sitting on your bedroom floor doing nothing just waiting for inspiration to hit you. No--I mean actively searching and keeping your mind open, but being patient and understanding that you may have to wait a little while before you figure something out. Got it? Okay, great. Moving on!


The other day I was not in the best mood, and all I wanted to do was write. I wanted to go home and sit down and spill my soul onto the pages and just write for hours. In fact, I've wanted to do that for a few weeks, now. But lately, every time I sit down to work on chapter two of my fantasy story, I get stuck. I lose my focus, I don't know what to say or where the story is headed, and my character just doesn't want to speak. It's been incredibly frustrating.
Now, I've been in this boat many times before, where no matter what I do or how hard I try, nothing I write seems to be working. It's times like these where I've discovered that patience is an incredibly important part of writing.
I never really associated patience with the actual writing process. Waiting for responses from agents and publishers, of course--that's to be expected. But the actual writing process? How does writing a book or story involve waiting and patience?
Well, sometimes you have to wait for inspiration. And yes, I know there are many articles and quotes saying that you shouldn't wait for inspiration because then you'll never find it, blah, blah--but hear me out.
There have been times where I have been plotting for a chapter or scene, and no matter what I do or how hard I try, I can't figure anything out. My brain goes numb and my fingers freeze up and the words just won't flow. No matter how many articles I read or writing prompts I search or plotting exercises I do, nothing happens. I'm stuck.
It's times like these where, despite what people say, I've had to wait for inspiration. Take my current fantasy project, for example. The plot has taken me years to sort out, and there are still parts of it that are fuzzy to me. For a while I tried very hard to develop a character and figure out her back story, but I just couldn't. I'd try to write scenes with her or do a character questionnaire with her, and nothing worked. I was stumped.
So I waited. I focused the majority of my attention on other characters and things while keeping my mind open for inspiration and ideas for my trouble character. And then, one day, it just hit me. One little piece of inspiration caught my attention, which developed into an idea, which turned into a thought, which led to another thought, and now I completely figured out this character's back story! (And it's actually one that adds quite a twist to the story).
So the point is, sometimes you can get so worked up over worrying about a story or a character that you end up stumping yourself. Or maybe (and this has happened to me too) you see another writer who has hundreds of story ideas in their head, and you seem to only have a few in comparison. You feel like a lesser qualified writer. But that's not true! Sometimes if you try too hard to come up with a plot or idea or character, you unintentionally hinder yourself from thinking clearly. That's when patience comes in handy.
Waiting for inspiration can be difficult, but sometimes, it's necessary. So stop stressing, worrying, or over-working yourself. Just relax, and let the inspiration come. It could be through a song you hear one day, or a sentence in a book that you read, or even a sign you see when you're driving. You never know! You just have to be patient.

"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience," Romans 8:25

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