9 Things That Inspire a Writer

Painting a rainbow. Colorfully.

When the writer is inspired, clouds with fantastic shapes can be observed in the sky, and the shadow of the wind can be seen, and the beating of ants’ hearts can be heard…

1. Reading

a. Non-fiction – I get more story ideas from reading non-fiction than from reading novels. It seems to me that a lie built on a truth is a more reliable lie than a lie built on another lie.
b. History: Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque. Sometimes reality seems more fantastic than fiction.
c. Wikipedia – Biographies of personages are full of charming anecdotes.
d. Verbs – When I began to learn English I read all English verbs in the dictionary: regular, irregular, prepositional, and idiomatic. Now I don’t consciously remember 1% of them, but I suppose I have assimilated a few. Oftentimes I find myself writing a sentence using a verb whose meaning I don’t know. Puzzled, I look up that verb in the dictionary, and to my surprise I discover that it is the right choice. Curious and curiouser!
e. Poetry – A poem a day keeps the imagination astray. That said, too much poetry turns an aspiring story-writer into a lousy poet, which is not good. I was not born under a rhyming planet.

2. Audiobooks, especially when I listen to them after nightfall, when the world is stilly. Shakespeare’s plays, histories of the Middle Ages, and Oxford Very Short Introductions.

3. Music. Classical and piano and ambient music when writing. Every other kind of music when not writing. Listening to music with vocals while writing is distracting.

4. Melancholy. When I am happy I have to force myself to write. When I am sad, I just write.

5. Dish-washing. I get many writing ideas when I do not think about getting writing ideas, that is when I wash the dishes or do other trivial things about the house.

6. Soapy baths. Oh, the things I think about when I am naked in the shower, with the brush ready for its work on my soaped back…

7. The sight of the outside world after several weeks of voluntary seclusion. Walking on the street after a few weeks of not walking on the street feels like walking on the moon.

8. Long walks. Autumn, winter, and early spring are my favorite walking seasons. Summer not so much, because everyone’s out on the streets until late at night, and the wind is balmy, and the heat is unpleasant, and my frail hands sweat under my long sleeves.

9. Romantic thoughts involving hatted women. A hatted woman is the most fortunate combination of atoms in the universe, devised by the devil to ruin the faint-hearted young writer…

What inspires you, writer?

This is a republished post.

52 thoughts on “9 Things That Inspire a Writer

  1. I definitely agree on taking long walks! I love walking home from where I work. It takes about 30 to 40mins, depending on the speed. Along the way I just think through so many things and see so many things that inspire me. Sometimes I write them into a story, sometimes I don’t. Well it doesn’t have to be a short story that you’re inspired by, could be just a thought that strikes you and makes you more matured as a person. I think everyone should take long walks sometimes. XD

  2. Almost every thing included in my life… Eating, watching television(though I’m physically present there not mentally), doing home work….

      1. Well while doing home work I’m in a different world… It’s only me and my knowledge… we chat… We discuss… and suddenly it’s like knock knock I’m in there… and I get new topics to write on…

  3. Absolutely charming! Ziggy sent me over here with her very accurate portrait of your elfter ego.
    My favourites are 4, 5 and 8. Although soapy showers are good too!

  4. “Dish-washing. I get many writing ideas when I do not think about getting writing ideas, that is when I wash the dishes or do other trivial things about the house.”

    This is the only one I don’t really jive with, myself. I’m more of an angry dishwasher. I scrub the plates hard, curse at them for being foolish enough to be the transient home of food before it migrates to my stomach and elsewhere.

  5. You inspired me to comment.

    1. VERBS: I’ve noticed the same as you with the usage of some verbs.
    PEOMS: I have a easiness to rhymes that is so intense it nearly runs in my veins. But I don’t like rhyming poems much since the rhyme seems to distract me from the contents, and I find myself feeling that poem less.
    5. I think the best idea’s come in the toilet… As well as solutions.
    6. Having idea’s while taking a relaxing bath is disturbing. The relaxation goes away as you look for a place where you can write it down or keep repeating it in your head so that you don’t forget it when you finally go out of the tub…
    7. After few weeks of not walking outside? Weeks?? Vincent!
    8. The solution to that is to wear short sleeves:).
    I think the time of the sunfall (also called sunset) when all is a bit dim, as well as the night, are most inspiring. Or at least most romantic.
    9. I don’t know what you’re talking about since I never felt for a hatted woman.

      1. 7. There have been even months…
        8. I never wear short sleeves outside, for reasons I will not disclose.
        9. Hatted women are the best!

        I forgot about dreams!

  6. Hmm, 3, 4, 5 and 8 are the tools of which I mostly use when writings. Dish washing being the most common, and I lose focus when washing, instead wandering within the archives within my mind. 🙂

  7. Being sad inspires a lot.. but I think it takes just looking at things without judgement. THAT’S when you see something you’ve never seen before… and bam! suddenly a craving to write or, in my case, paint sometimes! too much inspiration makes me a little crazy sometimes. i can’t tell what i want to write/paint/compose next! great post

  8. True about the verbs ! i’ve experiensed that as well. i discovered I was a writer when as a child I would hurt from a verbal abuse and feel it wash away when I put myself in a place of solitude and let my mind imagine many stories and scenarios. As I wrote, my hurt, anger and melancholy would simply vanish and everything would be alright.
    Thanks for this vincent.

  9. I agree with melancholy, long walks and dish-washing (or any other han-occupying activity) being inspirational. But in my case, music with vocals can be incredibly emotional evocative/adrenaline surging and thus inspirational. Half listening to the words being sung as I write takes the pressure off listening to my own voice in my head.

  10. I seriously JUST posted an article on another thing that inspires my writing 😛 (I wrote one previously as well). I love your list though. It made me think of what else inspires me besides just the usual stuff (other forms of art basically).

  11. “A hatted woman is the most fortunate combination of atoms in the universe, devised by the devil to ruin the faint-hearted young writer…”
    You are adorable. May I steal these words away, to ponder in my heart?

  12. I’m shy too. Yeah I get good ideas in recluse.But the world is killing me.I want to have fun when I want to and stay away from the crowd at others.People judge me and suggest that I change. I don’t want to and not able to.Will not.
    And, I don’t really know what I’ve written here.

  13. As a musician, I find the easiest place to sort my thoughts into songs is when my hands are busy, similarly to washing the dishes I often find myself composing lyrics while standing at work doing cutlery or often while driving somewhere routinely, it’s almost as if my mind finds it easier to think clearly while it is working away at something easy – as soon as I have to think about turning or talking to someone the concept is lost. Other times I have far too much going on in my head, and that is when I like to go for walks with the dog around the paddock, but reading blogs and books and psalms and poems and listening both to both music and even just people speaking I find to be a really soothing way of filling my many notebooks with new material. That’s what works for me anyway 🙂

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