Front Page Calendar Links Archive Guidelines Software Feedback

Click below on name of editor / contributor for info and access to articles.

Editors

Steve Beisner
Melinda Palacio

Contributors

Jim Alexander
Mary Rose Betten
Ned Bixby
Karl Bradford
Mary Brown
Ted Chiles
Chella Courington
Fran Davis
Julia Michelle Dawson
Karin delaPena
Sharon Dirlam
Dawn Downey
Karin Finell
Reyna Grande
JNelle Holland
Bill Honey
Beverlye Hyman Fead
Cheryl Joi
Catherine Ann Jones
Martha Lannan
Molly-Ann Leikin
Andre Levi
Anne Lowenkopf
Shelly Lowenkopf
Marcy Luikart
Josie Martin
Diana Raab
Joseph Riley-Portuges
Sojourner Rolle
Kathleen Roxby
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Alison Schaumburg
Rita Shaler-Nelson
Laura Slattery
Gia Sola
Erik Talkin
Karen Telleen-Lawton
Catherine Viel
Kathryn Wilkens
Dallas Woodburn

Search Ink Byte


Ink Byte Software
Free, professionally developed software for writers:
InkByte Tracker to help you organize and manage the submission of your work to journals, publishers, agents, or any market.
InkByte for Word to tame Microsoft Word.

Would you like to write for Ink Byte?
We're looking for good articles. Contact us with your ideas for an article, a column, an interview, or a "how-to". Send us events of interest to writers for the Calendar.


RSS Feed

Inspiration Need Not Be a Lightning Bolt

Dallas Nicole Woodburn -- July 13, 2007

When I first started writing, it was hard. I stared at my blank computer screen, fingers poised above the keys, waiting and waiting -- hoping and hoping -- for a lightning bolt of inspiration to strike. I half-expected ideas to fall and hit me on the head like Sir Isaac Newton's famous apple. Life, as it often does, got busy. I put off writing, telling myself that I would set aside time to write as soon as I got a good idea.

Then, four years ago, I underwent surgery on both my legs. Bedridden during my recovery, I didn't know what to do with myself. I couldn't walk, so it was hard to go out anywhere. So, I moped, watched TV, read magazines. I relaxed, like my doctor told me to. After a few days, however, relaxation gets incredibly boring.

So, I started to write. It was hard. I sat on the couch, laptop computer balanced on my thighs, trying to think. I typed a few words, and then erased them. The blank computer-screen page mocked me, laughed at me, tortured me. Whatever would I write? I typed a few sentences, read them over to myself, and again erased them.

After a few fruitless hours, I was struck by a lightning bolt of sorts. No, it wasn't the perfect idea I had been searching for, but rather a truth about writing: the delete key is your worst enemy and your best friend at the same time. It can erase unnecessary words that your work is much better without -- but it can also kill brilliant ideas before they even get the chance to blossom.

I decided to give my writing a chance. I set a deadline for myself -- 500 words that very day -- and just started writing. At first, the sentences were forced and filled with cliches. Then, slowly but surely, I got sucked into my story, intrigued by my characters that were starting to become vivid and human, and I forgot I was writing at all. Perhaps inspiration isn't so much a lightning bolt as it is like surfing: it takes work to paddle out past the breakers, but once you ride a wave you forget about the work. For a few moments, you're on top of the world. You're free.

Guess what? Writing is still hard. But, ironically, once I stopped wishing for a lightning bolt and accepted that writing was hard, it became easier.

Here's a writing prompt to try:

Write a letter to your future self, predicting where you will be in five, ten, or even twenty years. What will you be doing, thinking, dreaming?