Guess what dear readers? You have officially become my inspiration for finishing this article, which I started several months ago (looming deadlines? No sweat!). You should feel pretty darn good about that.
What can I say? There are times when the creativity is flowing like a room full of ribbon dancers and other times when you feel like a clogger with a peg leg. I’ve learned to capitalize on the former and just let it go during the latter. There’s no use forcing it. It’s better to use that time for editing and rewrites. At least you’ll feel like you’re actually accomplishing something.
However when inspiration does hit, you need to be ready for it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been driving in the car and thought of some really great story idea only to have no way to write it down. True, I could stop right in the middle of the street and let people go around me, but generally people don’t seem to respect a writer’s creative impulse. In fact, they only seem to resent you. Like the time I stopped to let a giant turtle cross the road and a guy in a pick-up truck stopped to see if I was okay only to drive away quickly when I pointed and said, “It’s a turtle.” Some people have no appreciation for nature–but I digress.
A better resource would be the handheld digital recorder my wonderful husband bought me for my birthday one year–it’s the greatest thing ever. That is, when I actually remember to use it. This usually occurs when I’m digging around in my bag for my keys and my knuckles accidentally brush against it. Although it’s definitely more effective than writing my notes on the back of whatever piece of paper happens to be lying around. Many times this ends up being something important–like say a bill–then I forget about it and mail it in never to see it again. I’m sure some unwitting customer service agent somewhere is enjoying a very brilliant idea of mine.
But let’s get back to nature, because it can be a really great source of inspiration. Nature can be cruel and funny at the same time–just watch a baby giraffe being born. Okay, I’m guessing about the giraffe thing; I’ve never actually seen one being born, but I imagine it must be pretty funny. Seriously though, my family and I recently went on a camping trip and there were all kinds of interesting anecdotes generated because of it. Like when my son suddenly bent down to pick up a Hershey Kiss someone had dropped (although I am still perplexed as to why he did this–he must have known we would never let him eat it), and his dad almost tripped over him. That’s one way to tell it, but see how much better this sounds:
A flash of silver caught Jeremy’s eye, and he bent down to investigate. The strange man, who’d been following closely behind, tripped over him, arms flailing wildly as he somersaulted his way down the cliff, never to be seen again.
This brings me to another tool in the writer’s toolbox–embellishment, oh, and exaggeration. No it’s not out and out lying per se, it’s just taking the truth and running with it. But be sure to change the names of the characters, like my son isn’t really named Jeremy. But Jeremy is the name of a guy my husband once worked with who was a real tool…so I figured it would make a good example name. What I’m trying to say is we want to make fun of other people, just not to their faces.
Be a recorder of character. People are funny! And yes, I mean you, lady at Target who was in line in front of me, and pulled her dollars out of her bra and her coins out of her underwear (that really happened!). And the adorable cashier whose face didn’t give any indication that this wasn’t a typical event, but merely pumped about fifty squirts of hand sanitizer into his hands as the lady walked away, grumbling about how many more Walmarts there were than Targets (hey–I didn’t use her name, folks).
Well, I hope this has been as inspiring for you as it has been for me. I’m not really sure what we’ve accomplished today, but thanks for spending some time with me. Until next month…come back…please?