Friday, January 9, 2015

Hunting for Inspiration

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at
Oh, hi! Is it Friday?

Okay, I knew that it was Friday.  I've just been banging my head against a wall trying to find inspiration for this post. Then I remembered this quote:
“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
― Jack London
For those who don't know, Jack London was a writer and novelist who wrote during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  His most famous novels are White Fang and Call of the Wild. He was very popular and could earn up to $1000 for a short story―in 1910. That translates to about $25,000 dollars today.

This is kind of a funny thing to think about―going after inspiration with a club.  It takes the notion of the writer being this fancy, spiritual guru who somehow communes with the writing Muse and dashes it to pieces.  Now, you might be thinking―when did anyone ever think that writing was this super spiritual thing?

The Romantic Period writers did. Not joking. I could honestly write a whole post on that―and I actually wrote a 10 page paper on it―but I don't want to bore you out of your skull.

Now, it makes sense that London would say that you have to go hunt for inspiration, since London was part of the Realism movement (this movement was a direct reaction to Romanticism). It's kind of his way of nodding toward what used to be popular belief and then turning it on its head.

And let's face it―London made a lot more money than anyone in the Romantic Period did.

So what does it mean to go after inspiration with a club? It means that if you have this vague idea of, "You know, I'd like to write a book," but you have no idea what to write about, you have to actively seek out ideas.

What does that look like?

Well, I wrote about some ways to generate ideas a while back―that's a way one can hunt for inspiration.  But another thing to keep in mind is that if you don't have some kind of passion for your project, you aren't likely to carry through with it. In that case, the first step to hunting for inspiration is to ask yourself, "What do I really care about? What really moves me? What really inspires me?"

You can sort of answer this question by looking at the types of books or movies you already like.  Figure out what it is about them that you like.  Then, use what you like about the book/movie/whatever as your inspiration. For example, I love The Lord of the Rings. I love a lot of stories that center on people who might at first be considered incapable of doing something. A "the weak are the strong" theme, if you will.

You can furthermore answer the question by figuring out what it is that you believe. I'm talking about ideologies here.  You might be too young to have your worldview figured out just yet, but it's never too early to start.  Ask yourself "What do I believe, and why do I believe it?" For example, I believe that all people are valuable, regardless of size, ethnicity, ability or disability, young or old, born or unborn, and on and on. (Notice that this fits in with idea of "the weak are strong.") Now, I believe this for many reasons and I won't tire you with that diatribe.

Our beliefs should be the greatest source of inspiration to us. If we're looking for inspiration, we should examine our beliefs.  That's what Jack London did.  He was an animal rights activist, and you will see that reflected in his work.  He was a socialist, and you will see that reflected in his work.  In fact, if you look at all of his ideologies, you'll see that they all find their way into his writing one way or another.

So go out there and hunt for inspiration.  Do this by trying to figure out what you believe. It sounds like a big deal, but it really isn't.  Chances are that you already have a lot of beliefs in place. Take a look at the things that you really like in storytelling, and ask yourself how you can combine your beliefs with that.  Then work on generating some ideas.

You'll be inspired in no time.

Share any thoughts or questions in the comments. 

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