Have to believe we are magic or how to find writing inspiration when things are looking seriously kak
I rather love Xanadu, that cheesy roller-skating turkey starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly. Olivia’s character is a muse who’s beamed down from Mount Olympus or somewhere (to ELO’s I’m Alive), to provide artistic inspiration for her future love interest, some random arb in tight pants who clutches a paintbrush…a lot. (But then opens a nightclub, baffling). It’s a neat thought, isn’t it? That a muse might pop down to shower inspiration and high kicks and singing.
But I’ve yet to have a visit. Or an email. Or even a whispered hint.
Where do you get your inspiration, is a question I hear often. Answer: Not Olivia Newton-John. Or any of her muse sisters (maybe their adventures would have been Xanadu 2, Xanadu 3-D, etc). If she were to knock on my door, I’d spend far more time asking whyohywhy she felt the need to do Two of a Kind, was it perhaps the money, dear, hmmm?
But oddly enough, I do think it might have something to do with visitors from Mount Olympus or the ether or those subconscious recesses that thriller writers plumb so regularly.
I think writers or artists or any kind of creative (this includes accountants, physicists, researchers, bus drivers and anyone on the planet, for that matter), they have to find their own magic. And by magic, I don’t mean day trips to Hogwarts.
Three steps to finding your inspiration mojo magic:
1) Get out there. Have an adventure. Go somewhere different - start small, a coffee shop, a different route to work, find out where the hell Alberton actually is. Let your instincts take over. Learn to listen to your self. Be open, be marvelled, be the five-year old you who still exists. Do this regularly. Let it become habit. Start listening to you.
2) Still consuming everyone else’s magic day in and day out? Turn off the TV, switch off the mobile, turn down the radio. If you’re quiet, you’ll be able to hear your magic calling to you. And even then, it might take time. But it’s calling. Snippets of dialogue, a character, a setting, a what if. Believe me when I say, and other writers know what I’m talking about, stories will find you. But they can only find you, if you’re listening for them.
3) Allow the writing to work its way through you. Anytime I’ve tried to write, or have had a deadline or needed the money, anything that involved my thinking, actively thinking, a mess occurred on the page. The result? Stilted, stuck, and turgid. But, if I get quiet, and let whatever wants to happen, happen, and get my head out of the way, stranger things turn my world upside-down. Characters start to do things I least expect, things happen that I didn’t plan in my fourteen-points-to-plotting-success, and the words feel like I’m downloading them…catching them, and then dutifully transcribing them. If I start questioning, the words trickle, if I let it be, they flow forth.
Have to believe we are magic, Olivia sings. Notice it said ‘we’. We are magic. That’s where inspiration starts.