Hello everyone. I'm Catherine Gayle, the newest member of Lady Scribes and otherwise known as Baroness Blithe. You can call me Cat, if you want.
When I first started writing, I thought myself a poet. To my utter dismay, my poetry tends to fall on the side of verbose, which is the complete opposite of what poetry should be. Poetry is all about saying the most possible with the fewest amount of words, whereas my writing tended to say the least possible while using the most amount of words. (Which, by the way, is something I still to have problems with. But that is for another blog post on another day.)
In order to write a poem (even a bad poem!), however, I needed inspiration. I am not one of those writers who can simply sit down at the keyboard or pick up a pen and notebook and write. There must be something that grabs me, calls to me, beckons me to write.
I did try to force the words to come out. I would think up a theme that I wanted to examine, and try to put together words that would convey my message.
It didn't work.
I needed something else, something more concrete. So, I started to look for inspiration. While watching a movie or a television show, I would be overwhelmed by an emotion, and try to use that feeling as a starting point. No luck. Then I would pore over books of artwork and photography, hoping to find an image to spark an idea. Still, nothing.
Finally, inspiration struck at a moment when I wasn't expecting it: while walking on the treadmill and listening to my mp3 player. A lyric that I'd heard countless times before washed over me in a new way. It wasn't much. Just a single line from a song.
But from that one line in a song I'd heard dozens, or perhaps even hundreds of times, a poem was born. The words started coming at me so fast that I didn't know what to do. I was at the gym, and had nothing with me to write on, so I had to dash out to my car (where I still had nothing) and rush home, so I could jot it down before I lost it.
I still tend to get most of my inspiration from music, but I'm no longer attempting to write poetry. Now my focus is on historical romance.
A song will play on the radio, and whether it is a song I know by heart or one I've never heard before, story ideas start flowing through me. Maybe it won't be a full story. Sometimes it is a character, or a scene, or a simple line of dialogue.
Lyrics to songs aren't the only things that give me ideas these days, either. I tend to listen to classical music while I write, and sometimes a particular swell of the orchestra will generate a new direction for what I'm working on. If I'm watching a movie, the score can plant a seed.
I have at least learned to keep a notepad and a pen in my purse, by my bed, in the car, and in the kitchen. I've even been known to type out a text message on my cell phone and save it to my drafts, when something handier neglected to present itself. You just never know when inspiration is going to strike, and you have to be ready for it.
What inspires you? Where do you get your story ideas? Can you plan for moments of inspiration, or do you hope they will just arrive?