Writing and Publishing

What Writers Do When Inspiration Hits

Learn to capitalize on creative vision whenever and wherever it occurs

Last week we talked about why we shouldn’t wait for inspiration in order to write. But that doesn’t mean we always work in the absence of creative vision. Sometimes inspiration hits and promises to propel our words forward. When this happens, we must make every effort to capitalize on it.

Under the spell of inspiration we write faster, our words flow freer, and those resulting words need less editing. Creative inspiration is a glorious thing. We must tap into it and usher it to our computer screen or writing notebook.

It took me too long to figure this out, but there are two keys to capitalize on the power of inspiration:

Write Immediately: When a vision of what to write falls upon me, I set about capturing it as soon as possible. If it’s at all feasible I start writing right away. I go to my computer and begin typing. If my computer isn’t accessible, I scribble out my message longhand, hoping I can read my writing later.

This has occurred in the middle of the night or early morning when I long for one more hour of sleep. I get up and write; I can always take a nap later – when I’m not inspired. This also happens when I work around the house or do yard work. I’ve even been zapped with clarity for one piece while working on another one. I stop first and write the second.

Sometimes I’m purposefully mulling an idea in my mind. Suddenly my thoughts converge, and the text pops out. I must capture it before it leaves, which can happen just as suddenly. I record the most compelling parts first, be it the title, the opening, or the end. Maybe an outline spews forth. I can always fill in the rest later.

Make Notes: Sometimes it’s not possible to start writing immediately. The spark of an idea may happen while driving down the road, sitting through church, or during dinner. I capture what I can at the time. I may jot a note, send myself a quick email, or call my voicemail.

Other times recording an idea is more challenging, such as during my morning shower—my prime spot for creativity. I keep repeating the salient parts as I cut my morning ritual short in hopes of capturing my ideas before they vanish.

Though these two tips seem obvious enough, it took me too long to realize them. I wrongly assumed I could remember my ideas, that when it came time to write I would recall them. This seldom happened. I lost too many good ideas. Or if I could remember the gist of thought, its execution became an arduous effort, all because the inspiration was gone.

As writers, we don’t need to wait for inspiration, but when it does show up, we shouldn’t make it wait for us.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

4 replies on “What Writers Do When Inspiration Hits”

If inspiration hits when I can’t get to my computer or to some paper to write on, I use my iPhone! I turn on the video feature and just talk into it. Then, I will go back and script it out. This happens a lot when I am driving! Great article Peter!

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