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Writing and Inspiration

Q. What is the most important aspect of writing?

A. Inspiration.

Q. What is the most important thing to do in order to find inspiration?

A. Write.

It sounds a bit tautological (That means a circular argument for residents of Wisconsin.), but the more you write, the more inspiration you find, and the more inspired you are, the more likely you are to write.

In many of the tips for inspiration or overcoming writer’s block that I have accumulated, it boils down to finding something to write about, even if that something is having nothing to write about.

I’m having an interesting writing experience right now. I had decided to do a theme novel that would really be a series of linked short stories. In essence, it is almost Faulknerian as a family saga. As I write one story, new characters and their stories pop into my head. Or sometimes something that happens with one character spurs a new character. (This is the saga of a family, after all, and those new characters do pop up in families.) When I started, I knew that I would span more than 200 years of history, but I only had one story in mind when I started, and it was set in 1776. I now have more than 24,000 words in nine stories set from 1700 to 1842 and more than 100 characters wandering about my head in this long saga. Many of the characters will never appear in the book, because they are background characters. Their less-than-dramatic stories lead to the more exciting stories in the book. The stories are tied together by the narrator, who is a genealogist. He ties the disparate stories and emergence of seemingly unrelated characters together by discussing the family links he managed to find.

Why are all of these complex details and story lines popping into my head? Because I’m writing. It doesn’t matter what you sit down to write, you’ll write nothing unless you do sit down to write. You might sit down to write a silly, little ditty, and come out with War and Peace. So, my suggestion for the day is, sit down and write. Even if it’s just to tell me that I’m wrong.


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