11 May 2010

The Perspiration of Inspiration

by guest columnist Robert Butt.  Follow him on Twitter.

As you sit there in your chair, or on the couch reading a book by your favorite author, do you ever wonder how they came up with the idea for the story you're reading? Was the story derived from an actual personal event in the author's life? Did they snap out of bed and write the story after a dream the night before? As a writer I can tell you that I've come up with ideas both of those ways, and a few others.

My ways of gaining inspiration for a story may or may not be the same as yours, but I'll share them anyway. First off, I love to watch the news on TV. You'd be surprised at how many ideas I get from that. It may not even be from the story itself, it could be from a gesture someone makes, or something happening on camera in the background. Then, there's my techie, nerdy side that reads almost every article on my Internet home page.

I'm also a people watcher. Not in the creepy, stalker-sitting-outside your house at night watching your every move kind of way. I see everything that goes on around me wherever I am. It's not that I'm nervous about my surroundings and the people in them, but the saying “fact is stranger than fiction” really is true. I notice the look on someone's face as they glance my way when we pass. Did that woman just clutch her purse and cross the street to avoid me? The everyday actions of everyday people can lead to some pretty good story ideas.

Basically, what I've learned throughout my journey as a writer is that you don't have to sit through the idea storm and wait to see what falls. You don't have to engage in an epic battle with your mind. There is no need to move your keyboard aside so you can bang your head on the desk. You don't even need to sit in front of the computer staring at a blank page hoping something hits you.

Just keeping your eyes and ears open can lead you to that next great story.

Robert Butt is a writer living in Kansas City, Missouri. He has spent most of his life writing whatever comes to his mind, including poetry, short stories, song lyrics, and comic scripts. Robert is currently working on two book projects as well as several comic projects. He is also one of many writers and artists working on a graphic novel to help fund the organizations which help aid our troops and their families.


Pulp Tone said...

I wonder all the time. I wonder why I can't do A and B but I can do X and Y. Even though sometimes I want to write A and B and it's frustrating but then I look at what I have and I realize somebody else probably thinks the same thing.

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