Inspiration for writing

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I think of inspiration like a tiny flame. God ignites the flame but we need to feed the fire. Inspiration can come at inconvenient moments, so it is useful to carry a notebook your bag wherever you go. Sometimes God puts a phrase in my mind, which later becomes a poem. I found this happened much more often when I was studying poetry, so reading the kind of work you would like to write can help your inspiration, as well as your writing. I also found at that time that inspiration often came during an early morning walk. Perhaps the rhythm of walking and the opportunity to pay more attention to my surroundings were significant factors. Snippets of conversation, an unusual object or experience or a strong feeling/opinion can all be sources of inspiration.

Poems are often short, but to write a longer piece of work requires perseverance. I think you need to be captivated by an idea to complete a polished novel, since it is likely there will be barren periods when you can hardly bear to look at it. With Fingerprints of Grace, I was captured by the idea that God is with us, and can be glorified, in suffering. Writing the story helped me to confirm this is true, and I pray that others will see that this is true, not only through my story but through reflection on their own story.

While personal experience inspired my first novel, another novel I am working on had a different beginning. I saw two characters talking, sometimes arguing, in my head. I knew that they were married and that they were battling some significant issues. Their names were Rick and Emily and I felt compelled to write their story. Inspiration is the the spark for a work, but feeding the fire takes time and discipline.During the long summer holidays, I try to get up early on most days. I have a window of time to write since my sons sleep in and we are all free of the daily school routine. During school terms, my writing time is limited but nothing is impossible if you make it a priority. You can’t schedule inspiration but you can schedule a regular time to write.

Madeleine L’Engle says, ‘Inspiration far more often comes during the work than before it, because a large part of the job of an artist is to listen to the work and go where it tells him or her to go.’ The actual process of writing leads to further inspiration. I’ve learnt to take advantage of the times I do feel captivated by an idea, but lack of inspiration is not a good reason to avoid writing. Writing exercises can be really helpful during dry times and there are many sites on the internet where you will find these. A simple exercise can be the catalyst for a published work.

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