A guest post by Bree Ogden, literary agent with D4E0 Literary Agency, who will be offering up inspiration to writers at the Whidbey conference in March.
Inspiration – Your Mileage May Vary
Speaking about inspiration is like speaking about sensory experience. It varies from person to person and there is no way I can tell you what yours should feel like. But I can tell you that inspiration very rarely just happens. You must act to bring about inspiration, a concept many people don’t want to believe.
The Dream of Inspiration
We would all love to have a dream and three years later have a bestselling novel. But we don’t need that. We have something much better.
Inspired by Our Lives
Each of us has items that we love, music that makes us feel, people that touch our lives, emotions and conflicts that change our worldview. Little did we know, these are the crucial elements that make up our inspirational environment that is conducive to our creative endeavors.
Recently, I remodeled my attic into an office. As a literary agent and magazine editor, I do most of my work from home. As writers, you most likely also perfect your craft from home. It’s easy to get distracted at home, to feel like you are in a rut, or get bored with your surroundings. This is where the first principle comes into play: action.
Action Gets the Inspiration Ball Rolling
Frank Tibolt said, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”
So, action generates inspiration. But in my opinion there is a step in between. This is the second principle: stimulation. Inspiration comes from stimulation and stimulation comes from action. Or (in the correct order), action stimulates you and that stimulation will inspire you. Follow me?
Using myself as an example, I was in a rut working at my kitchen table. When I remodeled my attic into a workspace my inspiration bloomed. I covered the walls and shelves withitems that I love, Frank Sinatra, Otis Redding, creepy antique dolls, posters of Wonder Woman, artwork of clients and friends, books, and memories in the form of old relics. That was the action part of the plan. The stimulation came after, when I would crawl up into my attic office and experience stimulation from all the things that I loved, all around me. Inspiration was a cakewalk after that.
The Steps of Inspiration Can Happen Anywhere
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of how Ella Wheeler Wilcox was inspired to write her most famous poem, Solitude. It’s a wonderful example of action turned into stimulation turned into inspiration.
Ella was on her way to the Governor’s inaugural ball when she saw a young woman crying. She sat next to the woman and tried to comfort her for the remainder of her trip (ACTION). When she arrived at her destination, Ella was so depressed that she could barely attend the scheduled festivities (STIMULATION). As she looked at her reflection in a mirror, she remembered the sorrowful woman. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of Solitude (INSPIRATION):
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
Inspiration comes in all forms. Some through sorrowful life experiences like with Ella, some through wonderful, grand moments and some by way of a 50 year old doll’s head sitting on your desk.
Much inspiration comes when you attend writer’s conferences. I look forward to being inspired by all of you at this year’s Whidbey Island Writer’s Conference!
Bree Ogden will be teaching and consulting with writers this March at the Whidbey Island Writers Conference.
Inspire photo by Ashley Rose