I once worked with a man who is a film maker, poet and fine artist. I asked him where he got his inspiration for each of his artistic expressions. He said it all came from the same place.
I’ve often wondered about this intangible place. Some say inspiration is a divine influence. Others find inspiration in songs, stories, from other artists or designers, or from life itself.
For some, inspiration comes from dreams – or in Stephen King’s case, nightmares. Several of King’s novels, such as Misery, have been inspired by dreams.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came to her during a daydream after poet Lord Byron challenged her to come up with a ghost story.
The inspiration for Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight came from a vivid dream in 2003. In her dream, she saw a handsome vampire boy and an everyday teenage girl talking in a meadow. They were discussing the fact that they were in love with each other, and yet the vampire was having a hard time restraining himself from killing her. That scene is now Chapter 13 of her Twilight novel.
Swedish painter Max Magnus Norman says he receives flashes of images in his mind, usually in the time between being awake and asleep. He sees the finished painting – crystal clear and complete. He keeps a notepad by his bed and draws a quick sketch of the image. He then paints exactly what he saw in his mind without censoring it.
It’s not uncommon for inspiration to come in fully formed ideas. That’s why it’s important to write down the ideas right away.
A friend of mine, a children’s author, finds her inspiration at 3 or 4 in the morning. Suddenly awake, she is compelled to write down her thoughts, and a whole rhyming children’s book spills out.
Inspiration can strike at any time. That’s why you hear of writers scribbling story ideas on envelopes, napkins and the backs of bank statements. When inspiration strikes, it must be captured or it fades away like the memory of a dream.
Just the other day, I was in the car, when the opening lines for a novel I’m working on suddenly came to me. I was in the passenger seat of the car, and I searched the car for something to write on. It was like a desperate race to get the words on paper before they slipped away. I searched my purse, the back seat, the compartment in the centre console. Finally I found a napkin in the glove compartment and unleashed.
Another friend says she is constantly inspired by ideas for inventions. Over the years, she has come up with dozens of inventions, all stored away in her mind.
Of course, the trick is to act on the inspiration and bring it into reality.
If only materializing the ideas were as easy as feeling inspired.