Writing Memoir

What is inspiration?

inspiration

When Kiersten from She is Fierce started exploring this idea, I became inspired to write about it. I began to think about what it is and what it means to me. What do you think?

To me, being inspired is about paying attention. Looking up from your phone. Taking in the surroundings. Noticing a spider on the ceiling. Pausing to see the shape of a fern unfurrow and the flowers drooping brown. I think it’s also about being well-read and I’m not talking about literary classics either. I’m talking about the pop culture blog post about the latest movies, books and music. The article about Jennifer Aniston or the latest archaeological discovery.

But this is me. This is not contrived stretching, this is what I’m truly interested in. I was an Archaeology major and after reading about The Other Neanderthal, I clicked over to the article on Jennifer Aniston because it was subtitled “a monomyth”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I hoped it to be, but since I’m really into myths and fairy tales, I wanted know what it was about. And as far as pop culture goes, what can I say, I’m curious what’s got the crowds going crazy about.

Everyday people are also a source of inspiration. I know there is a story behind every person that I see and meet. I like hearing those stories, and sometimes making them up. There are stories behind objects, too, like how a dress got to you, where this book has been, or how that song led to three unforgettable nights. Inspiration is about curiosity.

My favorite reading or listening activity (I like audio books and podcasts) is to take notes. This is when my inspiration meter is soaring. It’s like I’m back in school and I’m writing down what I want to remember or I’m spinning off in a direction that I previously didn’t realize I even wanted to go. Although, I don’t write in books anymore, I have my notebook handy and I write down quotes or phrases that switch me on. Inspiration is catching those quick flashes. If you don’t catch it, you probably won’t hear it fly by again.

On Thursday, my certificate-level class had their writing test and one of my students wanted to listen to music while he wrote. I said no because it seemed like the teacherly thing to do. He begged and I consented. Not because he pleaded, but because I wanted to say yes all along. I know how important it is to write while you are comfortable and to him listening to music was his inspiration. He said he hated the silence. He’s also the most creative kid in the class.

I read that Stephen King listens to heavy rock music while he writes and that made me smile. It seems fitting, no? I can block things out and I think that is what helps me to concentrate and write. But I used to write in coffee shops because that seemed like the cool-cat thing to do. It’s fun to riff off of what other people say and imagine storylines. Poetry comes easier in these kinds of environments, too. Actually, writing in public spaces can be inspirational. Chuck Palahniuk writes in coffee shops. At least, he used to.

What I love about this question, “What is inspiration?” is it’s like asking, “How do you start a fire?” There are many ways, answers and avenues to get to your destination. What inspires you? What are your fire building techniques?


For your inspiration. Isabel Allende (love her!) on Tales of Passion. Have you seen it? You should!

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7 thoughts on “What is inspiration?

  1. I love writing in coffee shops too. Actually, I have a particular one I refer to as ‘my office’, and I always get a lot done when I sit there. The movement of people walking by triggers a lot of thoughts and ideas. And the coffee is really, really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Coffee shops are good places to meet, talk, write and watch. I don’t know if I’d want to necessarily read there – too many distractions. Whenever I’m with a friend, I feel like I have one eye on them and another on the people swirling around me. At this point, it is second nature for me to try to figure out what nationality the customers are, and then my imagination goes from there!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic! I love what you said about spinning off in other directions. I think that’s really what happens to me. My brain jumps ahead on assumptions and takes ideas far, far beyond what I read or see.

    But I absolutely can’t work in a public place. I’m the type of person who is super aware of what’s going on, so if someone is talking or moving around, my concentration breaks. I can’t even study in the school libraries because people still whisper and walk and generally EXIST. It sucks because I’d love to take my stuff to a coffee shop, but I just can’t. Ah well.

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    1. Could you sketch in a coffee shop? It would seem like a good place for you to jot down notes and scribble. Think of the characters you could create! ^^

      I think the only reason why I can block out sound is because when I was a child I was forever blocking out my mom talking. Wait! I know that sounds horrible, but she and her Thai friends would be talking up a fierce storm and it just became background chatter. I got used to it 😛

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      1. I have thought about that. I haven’t actually tried it, but I did try in a library and it wasn’t too bad.

        Haha I totally understand! When I was younger, I was always in my room and had to play music to drown out the sounds of my family, and we are a quiet family anyway. But opening doors, TVs, etc easily distracted me.

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  3. So did other students start listening to their own music while studying/working in class?

    I actually….rarely want music when I’m writing anything. But when doing on art, sometimes I put on an instrumental piece, baroque music. I don’t want lyrics to influence me nor distract. Otherwise I end up with a headache –almost like my brain struggles to screen out distractions. I was like this in university too.

    Inspiration for me, has occurred when living in a moment.

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    1. No, no one else asked for music. I think he’s a rare bird.I wonder if music helps him to push through the blank page and quiet. I later interviewed him and asked what he likes to listen to and he said metal and rap. It’s heavy music, so it’s easy to drown out, at least, I think so.

      My b/f listens to music when he’s doing art, but only if he’s at the finishing stages or doing just the brush strokes of colors he’s already decided upon. In other words, “mindless” stuff.

      Agreed. You have to be in the moment, paying attention to hear inspiration knocking!

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