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Inspiration: How Is It Important?
Have you ever wanted to do something? Wanted to do it so much that it felt wrong not to drop everything for it? What caused you to want it? A favorite book that made you want to create the same kinds of stories? Or a movie's soundtrack that filled your mind with ideas for compositions? It could even be as simple as the want to make a chicken pot pie that you saw on TV. What you felt was the inevitable and amazing feeling of inspiration. And while it may be unavoidable, just how important is it to the creative process?1

Inspiration is really good when you need a subject matter to work with. For a writer, it can build a story, or even a world, from absolutely nothing. One author who knows this well is Jim Butcher. Butcher is the author of the Codex Alera series and the Dresden Files series. He has recently released The Aeronaut's Windlass, the first book of his new series the Cinder Spires. He has gone on record saying Codex Alera came from a forum thread where he participated in an argument between lousy subject and wonderful execution versus wonderful subject and lousy execution. The former believed that all a book needs to be good is great execution while the latter said that you only needed a good subject matter and everything else would just fit into place. Butcher put himself firmly on the side of the former. He was told to put his money where his mouth was "by letting [one of the arguers] give [Butcher] a cheesy central story concept, which I would then use in an original novel." Naturally, Butcher told him to give two concepts and that they would both be used.2 Those concepts were the Lost Roman Legion and Pokemon. Using those two concepts, Butcher made a New York Bestselling Book series about the descendants of the Lost Legion using environmental spirits as friends and servants.

Now, it may seem like a stretch to call that 'inspiration.' So, let me point you toward a relative novice's work. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I have started and am maintaining a "Story a Week" blog. Basically, I write a complete story in a week and every day I must write at least 1000 words. I have been doing this for about twelve weeks and so I have twelve different stories. Why do I bring this up? Well, every story I have written so far has been inspired by something. One of my stories, 'The Path Home,' is 7000 words of one woman's trials and tribulations of returning home after a horrific fight. It was inspired by the song 'The Path' by Miracle of Sound. Is it a loose tie? Sure it is. All I did was use the main idea behind the song. Yet, it inspired a complete story that could be put in a compilation further down the line or on my portfolio. And I am just friggin' proud of it.

However, there are times when inspiration can be a hinderance rather than a benefit. Introducing the bane of any writer's existence: Writer's Block. This nuisance is the idea that a writer is not able to continue writing because there is something 'blocking' their mental processes. When describing Writer's Block, the usual thing I hear is that the writer will just sit at their computer staring at the screen. It does not matter if the writer is a New York Bestseller or a novice - all writers will encounter this ugly beast once in awhile. What does this have to do with inspiration, though? Well, writer's block can be caused by many different factors, but one is when a writer has too many ideas floating in their head. Basically, when they have too much inspiration. And one of the many ways to cure this burden is to not "[refuse] to write until you feel 'inspired.'"

So, if inspiration can really halt a writer's progress, is there a way to write without inspiration? Honestly, I am not sure. Looking around on Google for writers who write without inspiration, or for writers who think that inspiration is not necessary, all I get are articles such as "7 Things That Will Doom Your Novel (& How to Avoid Them)" and "31 Ways to Find Inspiration for Your Writing." It seems like nowadays, inspiration has become a natural part of writing. Something where neither inspiration nor creative projects can exist without the other.3

To any creative mind, inspiration can be a god-send. Yet, it cannot be relied on completely or else it will hinder and ruin. Keep it in moderation and one will do well.


1While I will be focusing on writing, these ideas could easily be translated to any creative venture.
2Which, I must say, is the exact thing I would say and that is probably why this story always makes me laugh.
3A world I am glad to live in. All hail our inspiration overlords!

Do you have any comments, questions or concerns? Please leave a comment or email me at sean.francis@rivalcastmedia.com!

Also, you can follow me on Twitter for updates on The Fireside Tales, or just random statements I may make: @Miggnor23.
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