Where Do You Find Inspiration?

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Finding Inspiration Is Hard Work

Now that my “Reichold Street” novel sequel “One Way Street” is finished, I’ve started to brainstorm about the ideas I originally had for a trilogy.

It’s one of many times I’ve wished I could peek inside the mind of one of the world’s greatest writers and find out exactly what makes him tick. Wouldn’t you, if you could?

Well … actually you can.

On Writing
Whether you’re a fan or not, Stephen King has published 50 novels, all of them bestsellers. He’s sold more than 350 million copies of his works. According to Forbes, he earns approximately $40 million per year, making him one of the richest writers in the world.

In 2002, he temporarily abandoned writing horror novels to publish On Writing, a book discussing exactly how to become a fabulously good writer. Since then, it’s become the most popular book about writing ever written.

Here’s why: The book is magic.

As you read through it you can’t help being exposed to the fundamentals of the craft. You also discover writing isn’t meant to be a chore. It’s more like an adventure through undiscovered worlds, where no one knows what’ll happen next.

Where other writing books are focused on the mechanics of the written word, King shows you how to capture the joy of the craft.

You’ll find yourself wanting to write … because it’s fun.

Personally, it inspired me more than any other book about writing I’ve ever read. If I could recommend only one book to writers, On Writing would be it.

Here are some of the quotes you’ll find:

“I’ve written because it fulfilled me. Maybe it paid off the mortgage on the house and got the kids through college, but those things were on the side … I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.”

I’m sure we’d all agree money, adulation and prestige would be nice. But since I don’t expect that’s going to happen, it’s not what drives me to the keyboard. It’s really about the rush of watching an idea take shape on the page.

Everything else, should it happen, is just a happy bonus.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

I’ve mentioned this before, but that’s really how it works. Every popular writer reads an enormous amount … and writes every day. I’ve been known to read three novels a week and I try to write a minimum of 1,000 words each day. It may seem like a lot but success, if it comes, comes at a price.

As a writer, are you willing to pay it?

“All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing is the purest distillation.”

In school, we’re taught writing has three and only three purposes: to inform, to entertain and to persuade. However, that maxim is missing a subtle requirement.

To inform, first you have to be informed. To entertain, first you have to be entertained. To persuade, first you have to be persuaded. So read. Then and only then are you ready to write.

And when you do, your job isn’t so much jotting down words on the page as it is beaming the ideas inside your head into the heads of other people.

Words are just the medium through which the transfer happens.

“Write with the door closed, and rewrite with the door open.”

The truth is, any great piece of writing is preceded by hours and hours of thinking. You must have more respect for the power of words than to spit them out without any real forethought.

To understand better what that means, try this:

Write as if no one in the world will ever read it.

Say exactly what you feel. Don’t think. Just get your thoughts out there in all their disheveled, chaotic glory. This is what Stephen King calls writing with “the door closed.”

It’s just you and your work … the very first stage of writing.

The second stage is opening the door to the rest of the world — a metaphor for pondering how the average Joe might respond to your new creation, and making the changes necessary to help it survive. And yes, don’t fool yourself, there will be changes.

Lots and lots of them.

To many aspiring writers, a great piece of writing is something mystical, filled with an almost frightening power. They look at the writers who create such magic with reverence, longing for the day they can discover the closely-guarded “secrets.”

It’s silly. Yes, there is some magic to it, but the same magic exists in every type of art and it’s accessible to everyone. Here’s how: Write. Every day. For years. And know your audience.

Is it hard work?

Yes, but so is any job worth doing.

“We’ve all heard someone say, ‘Man, it was so great … I just can’t describe it!’ If you want to be a successful writer, you MUST be able to describe it, and in a way that will cause your reader to prickle with recognition.”

If you pay attention to only one quote in this article, pay attention to that one.

A writer’s job isn’t so much saying what he thinks as it is putting his readers thoughts into words. He needs to describe actions with such clarity and intimacy they suspect him of reading their minds.

Understand what they want. Don’t tell them the action; show them. Do that, and you won’t have to beg your readers for their attention. They’ll follow you to the ends of the earth.

The mistake most wannabe writers make is never trying anything new at all. They do whatever their English teachers told them is “right.” And that’s just sad (sorry again, Mrs, Bliss).

The reason most writers fail isn’t a lack of technical know-how. It’s a refusal to take what they do seriously. They never put in the work to make it anything worthwhile. They never understand what their readers want.

So, as I head home from visiting my oldest sons and my grandkids to begin the final book in the Reichold Street trilogy, I’m trying to do the work to understand what the readers want to see.

I’ve been writing with “the door closed” and I’ve got my thoughts together already for Chapter One, in all their disheveled, chaotic glory. Let me know what you’d like to see next. I promise I’ll listen. Believe me, your comments are most welcome.

After myself, you’re the ones I’m writing for.


You can find my books on Amazon. You’re also invited to visit my web site, BROKEN GLASS, or like my Book of Face page. You can also follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.


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2 Responses to “Where Do You Find Inspiration?”

  1. Ron Herron Says:

    Jeffrey –
    The suspense is killing me, too. Let me know when you finish!


  2. bushmanjeffrey Says:

    I just recommended that book to a friend. She went right out and bought it. I love it when I write and I give myself goosebumps. Its what keeps me going. There are times when I want to flip to the back of my book that isn’t even written yet because the suspense is killing me and I’m the one writing the damn thing! Bill was supposed to send me your books so I could read them but he hasn’t yet and I don’t want to wait any longer so I’ll have to make the move. Looking forward to it!


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