Phatman - Lightning on the Columbia River (by-sa)

By Ian Boggs from Astoria, US (Lightning on the Columbia River) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Sure, sure. You make your own inspiration and all that. You sit, you write, you create. I get that. It’s 90% of the equation.

But what about those moments that are unplanned? I know I’m not the only writer out there that’s found profundity in hot showers or strains of music (in fact, most of the WIP fell into my brain during a shower). There seem to be situations where my brain is prone to wander unseen pathways, where I make connections in stories that, on normal writing days, just don’t seem to happen. No, I don’t believe in Muses, but there is some curious power in the workings of our brains when it comes to creating stories out of nothingness.

When I was writing Rock RevivalI plugged into music. Every day. Not just my favorite bands, but bands I’d never heard of. Music that was the music of my characters. Phoenix, The Black Keys, Mumford and Sons, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Neko Case. That’s just a slice. Driving around, in particular, seemed to dislodge whatever scene I was struggling with and bring about new characters and situations I hadn’t planned, so long as the music was blasting.

((Now, this is a life of a panster, I realize. There are those writers out there who have the talent (and, yeah, probably the discipline) to write outlines and stick to it. But my first drafts tend to be my outlines. Which is probably why I love the hell out of editing so much. It’s polishing.))

For Watcher of the Skies, the inspiration has been less predictable. Life has been less predictable. Instead of walking around with a lightning rod like I was able to do with Rock RevivalI’ve had to rely on the random moments. It hasn’t been music, this time, at all, that’s moved me to moments of writing epiphany  Instead, it’s been during sleepless nights, moments of stillness when I can’t convince my brain to rest, when Joss and his friends come out to play. It’s almost like listening to whispers in the next room. Maybe that’s weird, but like I was saying in my post yesterday, it’s as close as I get to real magic.

So my question for you out there. Are you the lightning rod sort? Or do you wait for inspiration? Or do you just make it happen regardless of the situation? What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever gotten inspiration from? And for those of you with lives/jobs/kids/responsibilities, what do you do when it strikes at inopportune times?