Where Do I Find Inspiration?
By Jim Kuiken
By now most of you know that I’m a writer…I mean, you read my blog (which I had to write), right? And I’ve told you I’m writing a series of 10 novels as well. Writing must really come easy to me!
Contrary to the popular concept that all writers are wildly successful and rich…and as I’ve said before, that it’s like “Castle” on TV…he gets to run around, chase bad guys, play poker, etc…, and still write dozens of best sellers and earn a ton of money – that’s just not true. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to do that too.
It’s hard work. There are lots of distractions (busy does not mean productive), and writer’s block can be a real thing if you let it. Also, people just don’t understand that I actually have a job, with regular work hours (and many after-hours and weekend sessions), and think that I just sit around all day – available for impromptu phone calls to chat, to meet for coffee or lunch, time to get house and yard work done, go shopping, etc.
It’s very easy to not do anything productive because I’m just too busy doing all kinds of other things. Heck, I even do a lot of appearances and speaking engagements, which, although very important, also cut into productive writing time and break the flow of the developing story.
But the big thing is…wait for it…how in the heck do you think up all that stuff to write about, Kuiken? Where does all that come from?
Like many other writers, I have a story in my head that I want to get out onto paper. That doesn’t mean I know how to write it, just that it is there. That is the basis for the 10 book series.
But I write about all kinds of things in my blog postings. And just because I have a basic story in my head to write about, doesn’t mean that I have the thousands of details that have to be created and filled in to flesh out that very basic storyline in my head.
Like a lot of other writers, I get my inspiration from life. I’ve been (un?) lucky enough to have been in the wrong place at the right time many times in my life, which gives me a lot of background to work with. However, also like a lot of other writers, I’m an astute observer of life, people, places and events as well. I pay close attention to everyone and everything I’m exposed to, generally because I like most people, and care about what goes on in this world…but because I pay close attention, I pick up a lot of insight into and inspiration from those people, places and events.
But how does all that come together into a story? It doesn’t. It just goes into the files in my head, and when the bones of a story or post, etc., are outlined, then I am able to pluck those things that fit that storyline out of the files (often-times coupled with endless hours of exhaustive research) and use them to put flesh on the bones of the story.
Sometimes, you just have to sit and cogitate for a while, and let the story play out in your head. That’s a fairly dangerous time though, because some folks will think you’re not doing anything, and take that as an opening to engage you in conversation, ask you to do stuff, etc., etc., when in fact, you’re actually working – not daydreaming – but letting the storyline develop. I usually try to do this when no one is around, but sometimes I’m able to do that on an airplane, in the metro, or somewhere that I have spare time (not when I’m driving…).
Inspiration can come from anywhere, you just have to listen to your inner self, and be an engaged participant and observer of life. And if you want to write…then stop preparing, sit down, and write.
For more insight into the field of writing – see some of our previous posts:
Helping Hands or Selfie Stick
By Jim Kuiken
I see posts everywhere about how this current generation is self-centered, narcissistic, and only care about themselves. The “me” generation.
Do you think that’s true? It certainly gets a lot more attention than it did in the past, due to the instant news cycle, social media, and other high-speed information sharing technologies that we have today. But it also appears that each generation seems to say that about the one(s) that follow them.
I remember hearing that when I was growing up, and now I’m hearing it from my generation (and a couple of generations that follow mine) about the current young generation. Did we “peak” at the “Greatest Generation” (WWII) and decline steadily since then – or were generations before then, and after then “Great” as well?
The marker for me is whether people are all about themselves, or are about helping others. You hear stories like the woman who was trapped in a burning car at a gas station in July of this year, while "There was like six bystanders just videotaping like oh man she needs to get some help."
Sick, right? Standing by a woman in a burning car, just video-recording it on their cell phones. What the heck is wrong with this generation? Nothing like this ever happened when we were the younger generation…
Any of you old-timers ever hear of Kitty Genovese? She was the young lady in an apartment complex in New York who died in 1964 after being repeatedly stabbed, over an extended period of time, while neighbors heard the attack and supposedly did nothing. Although some accounts of the incident were later debunked, it became the basis of a significant psychological study about not stepping up and becoming involved – and was even named the bystander effect or "Genovese syndrome".
What would you do if something like this happened, and you were there? Most everyone likes to think they would step in, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Don’t get me wrong…it does happen.
After Kitty was attacked in 1964 and lay dying, a neighbor did come out and hold her in her arms – even though she had no way to know the attacker had already fled, while others called the police.
In the case of this younger generation standing by and filming…a young man did rush past the others, break open the window of the burning car (risking himself in the flames, and cutting his arms in the process), and pulled the lady to safety.
So although the culture changes over time (usually to the disapproval of the previous generation, and to the delight of the current one), there are still those who reach out to help others. Many of these folks become the quiet professionals – firefighters, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, military servicemembers… Others are just those caring and sometimes selfless individuals who see someone in need, and just step up.
The odds of this happening when you are the one in the spotlight greatly improves if you think and talk about it before-hand. You can’t run through every possible scenario in your head, but you can think about what you’d do if confronted by various types of situations. Even if you aren’t able to do something yourself, you can certainly call someone who can! Decide now, so you won’t be caught flat-footed later.
“Courage knows no gender. Courage knows no race. Courage comes from within, from a deeply ingrained sense of duty, from service to something bigger than just yourself...from love.”
What will you do when your time comes? Reach out with a helping hand, or reach for your selfie stick?
Image Copyright: l23RF Stock Photo