Contemplating the nature of inspiration

Some time ago, I was challenged to list several sources of inspiration and — before I get into that — it has made me ponder the nature of inspiration and what people do with it.

So what is inspiration?

The dictionary says (OK, I’m also an engineer and I like definitions):
inspiration1. drawing in of breath, 2. divine influence, esp that which is thought to prompt poets etc, 3. thought that prompts a sudden brilliant or timely idea, 4. inspiring principle.

Interesting. That third definition sounds to me rather like an epiphany — and we all know how much I like those!

But I more commonly associate inspiration with the fourth definition: for me, it’s an enlightened and positive feeling brought on by exposure to something inherently grand.

Inspiration tends to hit me like a wave of adrenalin and makes me want to write. It’s the muse floating above my head, feeding me chocolate and coffee and wine all at the same time. (Unfortunately this all too frequently happens at a time when I can’t write — say,when I’m driving . . . or at work . . . or really late at night.)

In the past, it has also made me want to sing (which for me is often an expression of happiness). Sometimes I even combine the two.

I guess in the broader sense, inspiration is something to do with a sense of purpose, of positivity, of confidence — and, yes, of divine intervention!

The best thing about discussing inspiration — and contemplating those things one finds inspiring — is that it’s bound to activate the creative mojo. So I’m really going to enjoy this series of posts, which I’m launching today. My plan is to share something I find inspiring each Wednesday — and invite discussion, of course.

For this week, I’m going to start with a quote, which I think could almost be a definition of inspiration:

“The best work is done with the heart breaking, or overflowing.”
Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)

How does inspiration strike you — and where do you channel it?


4 thoughts on “Contemplating the nature of inspiration

  1. I honestly think if I waited for Inspiration (with a capital I) to hit, I’d never get anything done. I mean, I’ll get an idea and spin it around, massage it, turn it into different shapes to see what comes of it, but the finished product ends up being one hundred or one thousand little bursts of inspiration, little ideas that I cobble together. Some days are better than others, of course, but the trick is to keep my butt in the chair regardless of how inspired I feel.
    And now I feel like a total kill-joy…


    1. Of course it goes without saying that writers can’t WAIT for inspiration to strike… We must push on regardless. But don’t you ever get those little flashes of extra energy? Those moments when you’re not writing, but you wish you were? They’re the moments I’m talking about πŸ™‚


  2. I love those little bursts of creative energy. Often they strike when I’m in the shower. I’ve seriously considered installing a white board in there to jot down those gems of inspiration when they occur. Also, like you, they tend to happen when I’m driving. The voice memo feature on my iphone has been so handy for that. πŸ™‚


    1. Hm voice memo on iPhone! Sounds handy… However, here it’s illegal to so much as touch your phone while driving 😦
      And I so know what you mean about ideas in the shower! Unfortunately I’m usually madly rushing about in the morning. Just have to store up the inspiration in a crystal or something, ready to be unleashed!


I'd love to hear from you...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s