On Inspiration and My Writing Process

Inspiration is a little overrated when it comes to writing. My experience is that it might take you a couple of pages before you lose the impetus that got you started. In other words, you should rely on steady, determined, inglorious writing to take you the distance. I don’t mean to say inspiration isn’t important. The problem is, I think, that most people assume good writing comes from an epiphanic moment, which turns the exercise into a waiting game. When lightning doesn’t strike twice, people call it quits. Remember why you started, but never forget that the process of writing is as important, and usually yields more, than the whim that got your fingers typing. That said, here’s a little on where I find inspiration:

Reading other authors. It’s a basic but true ingredient of good writing. But don’t take my word for it:  authors from Raymond Carver to Stephen King praise the value of “research” when writing your own, original work. Ben Franklin copied whole journals to learn writing techniques. Don’t rule out work from fields outside your comfort zone, either: as a Humanities major, I’m not particularly great at math or science, but having recently read (and deeply enjoyed) works by Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku, I’ve found my own framework broadened by their views on astrophysics and the natural world. So read, read, read, until you’re confident in your own voice. Then keep reading.

 

I Kind Of Like to be Profane

Profanity is supposed to be offensive, I get that, but there are times when the word shit just works so perfectly that a PG substitution won’t quite do.

You know when you stub your toe on something? Shit! Shit just works so beautifully to express the pain, surprise, and anger all balled into one, four letter word. Saying shoot just doesn’t have the same impact, not in real life and not in a poem. Shit conveys a very real emotion that cannot be replaced by one word alone.

My Writing Process

I’m a somewhat frantic writer. I never find a quiet space to write, but honestly, when silence occurs, I do find that my writing comes easier.

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I’m too busy to look for that quiet spot, though, so I write on the go. I always carry a notebook with me and I jot down ideas. I always write down little lines or funny things I hear that I might think I can transform into a poem or short story later.

I buy those 99 cent composition notebooks and I doodle in them. I have two or three in my backpack at a time because I use them for different subjects – academic paper ideas, poetry ideas, and short story ideas.

25 Things Chuck Wendig Wants to Say to Aspiring Writers

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer, and owns an awesome blog with some great advice for writers. Most great advice hurts, and his is no exception.

Number one. Stop aspiring!

Here are the two states in which you may exist: person who writes, or person who does not. If you write: you are a writer. If you do not write: you are not. Aspiring is a meaningless null state that romanticizes Not Writing. It’s as ludicrous as saying, “I aspire to pick up that piece of paper that fell on the floor.” Either pick it up or don’t. I don’t want to hear about how your diaper’s full. Take it off or stop talking about it.

Here are some more of my favorite tidbits:

7. FIGURE OUT HOW YOU WRITE, THEN DO THAT

You learn early on how to write. But for most authors it takes a long time to learn how they in particular write. Certain processes, styles, genres, character types, POVs, tenses, whatever — they will come more naturally to you than they do to others. And some won’t come naturally at all. Maybe you’ll figure this out right out of the gate. But for most, it just takes time — time filled with actual writing — to tease it out.

The Curious Relationship Between Writers and Cats

Writers have been said to be solitary beings, which may provide insight into why so many writers seem to choose cats as their companions, rather than man’s best friend. Cats aren’t pack animals, meaning they don’t feel the need to do what anyone else wants them to do. And they have large, peculiar personalities, which can also be said of writers.

When I began researching this curious relationship between writers and cats, I stumbled upon a poem written by William Carlos Williams:

As the Cat

As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right
forefoot

carefully
then the hind
stepped down

into the pit of
the empty
flowerpot

Annual Shakespeare Conference at The University of La Verne in California.

Do you like Shakespeare?

Do you like me?

Do you like going places and hearing people, specifically me, talk about Shakespeare?

Even if you said no to any of those (which you wouldn’t, because you are awesome, right?) you can still check out this link to the Shakespeare Conference I am presenting at on April 27th, 2013 held at the University of La Verne.

My presentation title is Portia on a Pedestal – An Exploration of the Modern Media’s Portrayal of Women and my abstract is as follows:

The modern media portrays the perfect woman as a female that embodies desirable feminine traits alongside positive male traits. The way the media, such as film and television, portrays the perfect sexual object isn’t a new one, for Portia from Merchant of Venice embodies the same characteristics of desirable feminine qualities while also displaying positive masculine qualities which she dons when she changes into male clothing that are also present at other points within the play. The idea that a desirable woman is flawless in both her feminine charms and within the masculine charms she possess transcends Shakespeare’s time and penetrates modern western society as well. This paper shall analyze Portia’s display of feminine traits while in feminine clothing and masculine traits exhibited by cross-dressing and compare them to modern film’s heroines and display of both feminine and masculine traits and what this says, overall, about an unchanged idea of the media’s perfect woman.

For more information, visit the University of La Verne’s Shakespeare Conference webpage or contact the Director of the event, Jeffrey Kahan. Jeffrey Kahan has a Ph.D. is Shakespeare Studies from the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. He is the author of Reforging Shakespeare, The Cult of Kean, Bettymania and the Birth of Celebrity Culture, and Shakespiritualism. He can be reached at shakespearecenter@laverne.edu.

I hope to see you all there!