Home » Writing Advice » Inspiration comes when you least expect it

Inspiration comes when you least expect it

Inspiration came to me in the form of a wine bottle label. The folklore for which the wine was named after formed a story in my head as I delicately sipped a glass of the bottle’s deep red, oaky liquid. I wasn’t prepared. In the midst of a wine tasting, I never expected my muse would hit me. The fear that I would forget the story boiled deep in my belly. Grabbing a tiny pencil, I flipped over my wine sampler list and ferociously started scribbling the plot that started taking shape in my brain. Everyone in the room thought I was mad; my friend laughed and said, “She’s a writer, this is normal.”

(c) markgraf

(c) markgraf

And this is normal. Writers have a different perspective of the world. We are artists and storytellers. Nothing it taken for face value and within everything we see a deeper meaning, a story waiting to be told. As a writer, you must always be prepared, on guard with pen and paper in hand. Inspiration will strike when you least expect it. If it isn’t captured or remembered, it will disappear faster than you can blink an eye.

Over the years, I have been caught off guard and many amazing stories have been lost in the fog of my horrible memory. Most ideas never see the light again and are forever lost in an abyss. It is a sad and dismal experience to go through the loss of a potential story idea. As a writer, I am sure you know what I am talking about. You have probably lost several ideas yourself. There are a few things that I have started doing, and since starting, it is rare that I ever lose an inspiration:

  1. Always, always, always have paper and something to write with stored somewhere on your person. Even if it is just a sheet of crumpled paper and a golf pencil, that is still enough to jot down an idea when it suddenly hits you.
  2. Have no paper? You have a hand. Act like you are in elementary school again and take notes on the back of your hand, around your wrist, up your arm, and so on.
  3. No pen or pencil? Improvise. I once dipped my finger in mud and wrote on a tissue. I also knew another author who used his blood and wrote on his t-shirt, but that was kind of gross. Yuck, germs!
  4. I bet your cell phone has a voice memo recorder. If not, there is an app for that.
  5. Or go buy a digital voice recorder  (if you want to be “old skool”, get one with cassette tapes). Voice recorders make for some of the best ways to record your inspirations. A word of caution: If you are detailing out a murder scene, it is best to do this in private where no one else can hear. You may get strange looks or the cops called on you.

There! You have no excuse to ever be caught unprepared should a story inspiration strike. Capture every idea that pops into your marvelous writer brain. You never know, one may be a best seller!

How are you prepared for when inspiration strikes?

17 thoughts on “Inspiration comes when you least expect it

  1. I’ve been known to rip out a deposit slip from my checkbook to write down story ideas. Like you, I’ve used my phone’s voice recorder + typed notes to myself on there.

  2. Aloha Amanda,

    I will have to explore the iphone ideas. I may as well get some use out of the thing, agents aren’t calling it. Oh, if anyone knows of a “focus” app, I would be like to hear about it.

    A Hui Hou,

    • Aloha Wayne!
      I have tried Evernote in the past. I had it on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The apps were all sync’d so that I could access my work from everywhere. For some reason, I just stopped using it. I should probably pick it back up again. It is a great tool.

  3. I promise myself that I will remember it when I get home, and – um, yeah – you know how it goes from there 😉 I have recently been jotting down some notes in my phone, although my muse is on one of her unapproved extended vacations lately so said notes app is lonely and underutilized.

    And, by the way, I laughed out loud – literally – when I read the line from your friend, “She’s a writer, this is normal.” Hey, at least your friend has your back 🙂 I can so relate!

    • Oh, I know! Side tracked 😉

      Tell your muse to get back from vacay now! If you can’t be on vacation, neither can she!

      It is nice to have non-writer friends to have your back now and again. Makes one feel like one is not completely insane.

  4. I have a small journal that I got at wal mart. I’m never without at least one pen in my purse. I actually forgot to pack it when I went on a family vacation to the beach and ended up regretting it. We went to a town called Cape May and the homes…oh the homes. Ip wish I had my journal then, but I was able to keep it in my mind till we got back to where we were staying and I typed it up on my computer.

    • I am so happy to hear you were able to keep all your thoughts in your memory until you had a chance to access a computer. Having the paper, but not the pen is the purest form of torture! A writer’s nightmare.

      I have been to Cape May many times. The homes there are breathtaking. I can see how they can spur up some inspiration for you.

  5. Pingback: Turn Your Journaling Gibberish into Gold | The Sarcastic Muse

  6. I get my inspirations from anything, anywhere. A word, a sentence, a picture, a tree, a person, anything at all–and a story begins to form. I never know what’s going to inspire which story. Sometimes, I don’t even know I have been inspired until later on when I reflect on the events of the day.
    One day in May 2008, I took a friend to a bus-stop and watched as she climbed into a bus. It was evening and we were from the library. The way she got into that bus, her at the door, face turned toward me, one leg raised, right hand holding a metal bar, and the conductor readying to leap in after her. It stuck in my head . . . and a novel began to form. I wrote a novel about it between 2009-2010. Only it was a horror novel.

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