I rubbed my eyes. Not now. It is time to sleep. But Inspiration tapped on my shoulder like a persistent two-year old, refusing to be ignored.
Oh well. Giving into your child's every whim is bad parenting. I may not be a parent yet, but I'm an elementary school teacher. I know better.
Inspiration threw a fit.
Definitely not the time to give in.
With a sigh that was quickly turning into quiet acceptance and a slowly-forming smile, I pushed aside the covers of my bed and moved towards the nearest pen . . .
Inspiration tends to come at the most inconvenient times. The idea for a story or the line of a poem is more likely to materialize at 2:30 AM as I lie awake at night than during the afternoon of an uneventful day. Although it may be bothersome to get up when clear physical signals indicate that it is time for sleep, some of my best work can occur at such times as these.
Even so, I may not completely trust myself at that hour. I would prefer to look at my nightly ponderings the next day, to determine whether or not my work really was as good as it had seemed at the time. Re-writing and re-writing is often important. Yet the first spark of an idea may carry more weight than any re-write or revision.
The first moment must be right for it to work.
I have found that writing does not come as easily when beckoned. The worst action that an individual may take is to force himself to write. Trying, thinking, too hard is not always ideal . . . especially with creative writing. With a bit of wry intent, I once delivered the following advice: “You can’t force it to do anything . . . or it’s gonna laugh in your face,” that, “by thinking too hard, maybe the inspiration slips out of your brain”. As odd as that may sound, I find it to be true from personal experience. In those moments where the right word doesn’t seem to materialize or a full blown “writer’s block” occurs, I feel that it is best to take a step back. This step does not necessarily involve leaving the writing process entirely, but entering another dimension of it. The imagination can often be stirred by something that may closely resemble meditation . . . a time to think without thinking.
Once upon a time, a rather sleep-deprived college student happened to look up at the sky . . . and found herself completely mesmerized by the deep beauty, the profound truth, it held. While she gazed at this curious, not-so-anomalous anomaly present every day of her life---yet, perhaps, rarely seen in its true quality---an inner peace formed in her heart. When she later arrived at the library, feeling as if her four hours of sleep had magically duplicated, pen found its owner, and she wrote like she had never written before.
Perhaps this is because writing comes from deep within you. Even with the unknown worlds of fantasy, my favorite genre, the world must not be foreign to you. They signify what is important to you, what you are, whether you intend them to or not. And what occurs before you write may often be just as important as what happens while you are writing. For, perhaps, a sketch of it has already been written somewhere, in the depths of your mind, before you pick up that pen or use the keyboard.
This ‘think, but also think without thinking’ theory of mine applies more to creative writing than essays and research papers. Yet it may prove useful to a degree with formal papers.
Some of you may be students. With school deadlines, it is often necessary to write at a given time. As a published author, I too have found the importance of maintaining some sense of a writing schedule. Self-discipline is also a vital skill to hone. Yet, even then, I find that it is best to move beyond yourself and the material world in which you live to produce the most genuine writing. Effective writing is important, but genuine writing makes it yours.
Making it yours.
I have noticed that I often tend to daydream when listening to music; it may call upon my imagination. Like the "meditational" process described earlier, music may prove inspirational prior to writing and, at times, during the writing process. For example, one day I was working on a scene from a story that involved a musical composition. I found that the story of the piano music to which I listened made the story within my story, that of my character’s composition, more real. Yet I generally prefer quiet while I’m writing . . . to think or, as it may be, to simply immerse myself in the process without thinking too hard.
The reader might argue that all of this philosophical stuff is fine and good, but that there are still some simple answers to the writing process . . . like the physical action of actually typing, the use of a tool in order to write. Straightforward and simple, right?
Not so. There's still no simple answer, and the matter is no less mysterious.
Sometimes I find it best to express myself by typing. However, with my debut novel I Thirst, I often found myself drawn to the more old-fashioned way. In the beginning and final stages, I wrote much of it on Microsoft Word. Yet, "in the middle”, for some reason, my thoughts seemed to flow more naturally from the pen than the keyboard. To contradict any possible pattern, the first rough draft of the first chapter, as well as the last, were also penned . . . with a pen.
Illogical and archaic, you say! Indeed, cross-outs can result in a “mess,” but not all “messes” are unfortunate. Outlines can, at times, prove useful in organizing one’s thoughts. However, in most instances, I delve right into the writing, unsure as to where it may lead, . . . but that uncertainty makes it all the more fascinating. Later, when I type up what I have written in my notebook, revisions that I had not foreseen often seem to “jump out” at me as if they had always been there.
The truth is . . . there are no rules to writing. And what is true for me may not be true for you, and vice versa.
As it is, this was written primarily in a word-processing document, not in a notebook. However, I randomly decided to print it up . . . and covered it with a delightful mess. Perhaps there is a ‘method to this madness’. But, to me, it is a random array of glory, a moment of spontaneity. This is the inconvenience of a passion, or, better said, The Passion, which I would never choose to relinquish.
So, do you say yes to 2:30 AM? You tell me . . .
Oh, and, yeah, I was that sleep-deprived college student.