BG 229 – Inspiration

As a writer (and also as an artist, designer and maker) you are often asked:
‘Where do you get your inspiration from?’ or ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’
As if there is some obscure website, a hidden beach, or an inconspicuous supermarket where you can ‘get’ inspiration and ideas.

At first, I was puzzled by such questions.
What do you mean, where do I get my inspiration from? It just IS there and has always been there. Isn’t that the case with other people, then? For as long as I can remember, my (un)consciousness has been filled with all kinds of creative ideas that demand to be worked out at some point, for example into a short story, an essay, or a poem. I don’t have to ‘get’ my inspiration somewhere.

I think writers are mostly perceptive people, who read a lot and who are interested in a lot of things. Who use their senses well and take in a lot of the world around them. Who see the humor or, for example, the wonder in small events that other people barely pay attention to. Who live consciously and who love language. And because I don’t have a very good memory, I regularly make a note about something I think I might want to write about one day. Or I come across a web page about a topic that I ‘want to do something with someday’ and put it in my favorites.

Most of the time I don’t even have to consult those notes or favorites, because the content has already joined all the other inspiration in my well-filled (un)consciousness. They mainly serve to get things moving again every now and then when I’m staring at a blank page and absolutely nothing is coming up. They often only form an initial handle, which I let go of in the course of writing, while a text on a completely different subject arises. Because the unconscious plays a bigger role in writing than most people think.

Many of my writings impose themselves on me naturally, they ask to be written. And what I do with those ideas is put them into words as best I can. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sometimes a piece of writing comes out ready-made, but usually I write a pretty bad draft first, leave it for a while, and then work my way through several rounds of rewriting until I’m happy with the end result.

And then it’s up to the reader to interpret my writing in her or his own way and hopefully enjoy it and/or find food for thought in it. Because I never write just ‘for myself’, but usually with imaginary readers in mind. I believe that a written text or, for example, a work of art is only really finished when it has been read or looked at, and preferably also admired.