Fires of Inspiration


C.Margery Kempe’s post on Anais Nin last week made me think about inspiration. What is inspiration exactly and why do some of us have plenty of us, while others haven’t a clue?

The Oxford Dictionary defines inspiration as: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. Others have waxed more poetic about inspiration. But I tend to agree with Jack London who said, ” You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Many people, including new writers, think that in order to write you must be inspired every  day. It doesn’t work like that. It’s fabulous when it happens. But writing daily is often an exercise that prepares you for inspiration. You have to work at finding it and to learn what best works for you.

Here are the top ten things I often turn to for inspiration:

1. Exercise. Okay, I can see some of your rolling your eyes and groaning. Seriously, this is the best way for me to get ideas churning in my brain. For example, I had no idea what I was going to do for this blog post until a bolt of inspiration hit me during Zumba class.

images2. Good books. I’m an avid reader  and I read across the genres. But one of the writers that fuels my fire when it comes to sexy writing is DH Lawrence. My favorite? Lady Chatterley’s Lover.  I read it in college and several more times between then and now. Such beautiful , erotic use of imagery and language. And I love the idea that it was so controversial in its day.  I think it still is in certain parts of the country.

3. Music. I’ve written about this before here. But it’s almost as if each book I write has it’s own soundtrack. And what better way to get out of your brain, your own ego, than to listen to some incredible music.

4. Other writers.  I am blessed to have several good writer friends who never let jealousy or insecurities get in the way of our friendship. In fact they lift me, support me, in countless ways. As I hope I do for them.

5. Crafting, or doing something with my hands, like gardening. I’ve always had an herb garden and my husband and I have always had a veggie or two in the ground. I also enjoy scrapbooking and quilting. Just going to a fabric store can inspire me for days.

6. Research. I am one of those writers who loves research almost as much as writing. Often there will be a tiny little thing that sparks my imagination only found during my research. For example, as I wrote about last week, I really love those bee skeps. Yesterday I watched a movie call “The Vanishing Bee,” which was so good I couldn’t tear myself away. I really now have such a better sense of the bee as a creature, rather than an insect to be swatted away. This will definitely inform and inspire me as I write  the next book in my series.

7. History. I am passionate about history and, in fact, married a historian. (Grin.) Reading history never fails to inspire me. Attending museums often results in long journal entries for me, leading to stories later on.

8. Language. This related back to reading—but it doesn’t have to. It could be the way someone has used a word in conversation. It stays in my mind and rolls around, until I decide how to use it for myself.

9. Art. Of course. Like our own Elizabeth Shore, who loves the Renaissance, I love it too. But my all time favorites are the Pre-Raphaelites. John Waterhouse’s Lady of Shallot is my favorite. I’ve written poetry about it.

The Lady of Shalott 1888 by John William Waterhouse 1849-1917

10. Food. I don’t need to go on, do I? You all know how I feel about food.

What inspires you?

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10 Comments

  • cmkempe
    March 5, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Nature! How I miss my long walks along Galway Bay, sigh. But yes, art, too! CHASTITY FLAME starts out in front of Cezanne’s Les grandes beigneuses and the second book in the series takes its name from Richard Hamilton’s ‘Hers is a Lush Situation’ — and the second MAN CITY story starts in front of a Waterhouse painting, too!

    There was just a WONDERFUL Pre-Raphaelite exhibit at the Tate. A version of it has come to DC, so I’m going to see that at the end of the month.

    • LizEverly
      March 5, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Waterhouse! Lady of Shallot’s home is at the Tate. But years ago I saw it when it was visiting DC. It’s HUGE, like a whole wall. I was shocked by that. I just love the colors the Pre-Raphaelites used, as well. It’s hard to get a sense of it from just the photos. Husband and I visited Ireland BC (before children) and Galway was on of our favorite places. It’s just lovely. And yes, nature. I’ll add that to my list as well! Thanks for commenting Kate.

  • sophiebowns
    March 5, 2013 at 9:02 am

    I just try to read as much as possible and sometimes I “dream write”

    • LizEverly
      March 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Interesting, Sophie. What do you mean by dream writing? Writing your dreams down?

      • sophiebowns
        March 6, 2013 at 2:57 am

        Sometimes, or other times I even dream the next part of my fiction! It’s quite handy!

  • madeline iva
    March 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Oh, man, I didn’t know there was a Pre-Raphaelite exhibit in D.C. Sheesh!

    I’m inspired by people behaving badly. That broken frailty we see in a moment of horrible crisis. I mean, it knocks me out, but it sets me to thinking: why did s/he do that? What were they thinking. Which makes me perseverate on character and back story.

    I really like what you say, Liz. While reading your post I started to recall how you feel when you’re in “the zone” of inspiration. Like being at the fabric story. Once something totally inspires you then it seems like a whole bunch of other stuff is inspiring too. It’s feast or famine.

    Or like being a supplicant to a generous goddess. To be in a state of inspiration is like having a channel in your head that’s open to the amazement of our endlessly fascinating world. When that channel is switched off, I find myself asking softly like a supplicant to the generous goddess, and she usually coughs up something for me in a timely way. the best part is when you get an idea so crazy-good, you kind of can’t believe you came up with it in the first place.

    • LizEverly
      March 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      That exhibit was a few years back, Madeline!
      Oh yes, the broken frailty, as you say, very inspiring.
      Thanks for responding.

  • LizEverly
    March 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Reblogged this on Liz Everly and commented:

    On inspiration, my post on Lady Smut today.

  • Elizabeth Shore
    March 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Great minds think alike, Liz. I have that exact John Waterhouse picture hanging in my writing room as a source of inspiration. I just love it. Beautiful post!

    • LizEverly
      March 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Hey thanks! My print is hanging in my bedroom. 😉

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