Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Trip Around the Old Writer's Block

What happens when you have a brain cloud?

Remember Joe Verses the Volcano with Tom Hanks? Now there’s a character with no inspiration. He hated his gray life of basement cubicle with flickering fluorescent lights. Everything he perceived looked bleak, ho-hum, purposeless. His condition brought him so low, he believed the fake doctor who told him he was dying.

King Solomon had those kinds of days, writing in Ecclesiastes that everything was meaningless.

Do you ever feel like that? Like an open target for the Deceiver to swoop in and convince you that you’re dying, so what’s the point of exercising your talents, loving people, praising God?

Might as well sign up to jump into the volcano.

When I feel like this, it affects my writing the most and I experience that infamous, frustrating, ugly brain cloud called writer’s block.

What we need is a little inspiration. (And we don’t have to volunteer to jump into the volcano to get it!)

Do you know what inspires you?

I know what inspires me, but I forget. When I’m down, all I see are gray walls and flickering fluorescent light bulbs.

Inspiration surrounds us, we just have to employ our senses on purpose.

For example, it’s another cloudy day here in K-ville, a little breezy and chilly (freezing compared to PHX). My natural instincts want to shut down productivity, seal me in the basement, keep me from enjoying the day the Lord has made. Since I am determined not to let that happen (today at least), I… listen.

Songbirds. A charming tune trills from a tree on the other side of the pond. I concentrate on that and start asking myself questions. Is it singing about something specific? What does it look like? Sometimes the biggest songs come from the tiniest bird. Does it live in that tree or is it just visiting – maybe for the sole purpose of singing me a song.

I hear God in those moments, it lifts the brain cloud a little more, and I can rejoice.

Never could have happened if I hadn’t opened my ears.

I started a list of things that inspire me, and it keeps growing and growing, to the point that I’m appalled that I could ever act like Joe, seeing only grays, being convinced that I’m dying, needing some fantastical event to make me feel like I’m living. Don’t get me wrong, those adventures are fun and have a place (except for the jumping into the volcano bit – you can see I’m very much against jumping into volcanoes…), but every day has inspiration of its own if we only look (or listen or smell or taste or feel) for it.

At the beginning of the movie, while the worker drones file slothfully into the dreaded place of employment, there’s a brief shot of a tailored business shoe stepping on and crushing a daisy, a single flower determined to grow between the concrete cracks. Inspiration was right there, but went unnoticed.

Here’s a list of things that inspire me…

Words – God’s word, the English language, masterful use of the English language, puns, poems (sometimes), stories about love or triumph or pain or overcoming an obstacle, lyrics, quotations from the wise or silly or profound, lines in a play or movie or television show…

Art – music, books, movies, paintings, photographs, dancing, clothing, blown glass, carvings, architecture, patterns, textures, colors…

Landscapes – the palate of colors in the Sonoran desert valley, the roar of ocean waves crashing on muscle-covered rocks and sending a spray of salt water into the air, snow-covered peaks begging to be climbed, the little pond outside my back window…

Smells – freshly laundered bed sheets, warm pumpkin pie, grilled steak, rain-soaked pine, brewing coffee, my husband’s cologne…

Those That Have No Category – exercise, singing in the shower, remembering my grandmother and how she used to sing in the shower, sifting through old greeting cards, pretty much anything that sparkles (and I’m not talking about Edward here for once), bell choirs, The Star Spangled Banner, the echo of snare drums from a high school football field, morning glories, finding money in a coat I haven’t worn in a while, Christmas trees and lights, campfires, roller coasters (the upside down kind), happily ever after fairy tales…

The list is – and should be – endless.

The fact that Providence governs all of these amazing motivators overflows my cup of gratitude and faith. Through them all, He speaks to me, encourages me, inspires me – to write, to rejoice in His day, and to live.

What inspires you?


lynnrush said...

Gosh. Inspiration comes for so many places. Mostly music. Adie Camp...her music constantly challenges me to seek out God's will for all my writing and all that I do. The song is called Your Way.

It's awesome.

The beauty of the red rocks of Sedona inspire me as well.


KM Wilsher said...

Great, great. DRY GROUND inspires me!

I really think God's children. My brother and sisters. And I listen to Joyce Meyer every morning via internet hee hee

Susanne Dietze said...

What a lovely idea to sit for a moment and consider our sources of inspiration, and then thank God for them.

Like Lynn, music inspires me. Jeremy Camp keeps me focused on Jesus. Secular Christian band (you know what I mean!) Mutemath literally creates scenes in my head, and I've formed whole books around them.