By: Marilyn L. Davis
Kernels, Prompts, and Inspiration are Within You
“Have you ever pondered the miracle of popcorn? It starts out as a tiny, little, compact kernel with magic trapped inside that, when agitated, bursts to create something marvelously desirable. It’s sort of like those tiny, little thoughts trapped inside an author’s head that―in an excited explosion of words―suddenly become a captivating fairy tale!” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
What Inspires You to Write?
Whether it’s an “isolation and inspiration from the internal muse” or the “immerse yourself in life and then recreate it on paper” approach, all writers have these little kernels clamoring to burst forth.
Just as we want to know why someone chooses a particular profession, I’m curious why you want to write. I’d like to see your responses in the comments section. I think there are a million reasons, but only a few will be authentic for each of us.
Writing out of Self-Defense
When I was writing my recovery curriculum, TIERS, I wrote out of self-defense. Now there’s a motivation you don’t hear much about, but I wrote Personal Discovery Guides because I got tired of saying the same thing and then having people tell me I hadn’t told them something.
Writing these Personal Discovery Guides was a catharsis, a way to express to others how I had faced and overcome some of the issues in my addiction and life.
After writing, I’d give it to a woman at the recovery house, dated and signed, so there was no issue with “You didn’t tell me that.” Plus, I didn’t have to rely on my memory of the time I told someone. Point made.
Emotions Prompt Words
I also wrote out of anger. Again, unless we’re talking about politics, social causes, injustices, and the like, most authors and writers don’t sit down at the computer with a scowl on their faces and hammer out 1500 words.
Or then again, that might be my assumption or the embarrassment that I used anger to prompt a piece. If you write when you’re angry, let me know, so I don’t feel so alone. I should qualify that; underneath the anger was a profound sadness that many women continued to relapse or get involved with yet another abusive partner. Unfortunately, anger is a hot and heavier emotion, and we don’t always look beneath it to find sadness and fear.
But as a writer, exploring all of your emotions is what makes your reading resonate with readers.
Seeing and Hearing: Prompts for the Writer
Then there are the “snatches of conversation that must be recorded for posterity” approach. I’m an inveterate observer and listener. I can participate in conversations and activities, but I often find myself merely watching and hearing snatches of life.
It’s those seemingly random images and words that qualify for another kernel that isn’t quite ready to pop; it needs work, and that’s the job of a writer.
Our friends and co-workers morph into characters or examples. That one-liner delivered for an immediate laugh prompts me to consider, “but what if.”
I’ll often do that with passages from a book, mentally taking the plot and twisting it. Usually, that doesn’t get me too far, as I’m more interested in how the book’s author moved the plotline along, but it’s a good writing exercise for writers.
The Unseen and Unheard of Stories
Untold stories fascinate me, and I appreciate the people who write them. The world is full of individuals who do extraordinary things without recognition as part of their plan. Simple, unpretentious acts of kindness, compassion, and giving that someone needs to record.
In some cases, that’s what can inspire you as a writer. They are not doing something to get their name in the local paper’s headlines, but if you are aware of this type of activity, write about it.
For instance, The Hall County Master Gardeners are such a group of people. When I had the women’s recovery home, they donated plants and their time to beautify the yard. Yes, these people like playing in the dirt, but what they gave the women of the house was a renewed sense of dignity with this gift. Their time and attention also increased the women’s self-esteem as someone cared enough about them to beautify their lawn.
Write about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Master Gardeners gave the women of the house a purpose as well. They could nurture the peppers, tomatoes, and squash and then see their efforts at the dining-room table.
It’s not just the noble acts; there’s a dark undercurrent running through some actions. I know first-hand from my years in the drug world. Remove the veneer of many, and you find the self-serving, self-centered aspects of people. It’s these qualities that make great villains.
Just as I’d like to think that I’ve made progress away from those motives, let your characters redeem themselves. Everybody loves a hero and most thoroughly enjoy reading about someone who overcame adversities and hardships to prosper. I think this character gives all of us hope. It’s that conflict that captures the attention of readers.
- Will she do the right thing?
- Are the temptations too great?
- Will she learn the lesson and move forward?
With enough intrigue and conflict, you can keep your reader turning pages until the end.
The Itchy, Got to Scratch it Prompts
We’re storytellers in the final analysis. Some are lies; some are universal truths, some are fantasy, some are how it should be, and others are, well, just entertaining.
I’ll repeat it here; carry that notebook, review your darlings, and put down every kernel of an idea. When you put them together, you may be surprised at a post or, eventually, a book.
Writers have the luxury of transforming the mundane into the marvelous. What a privilege. But it means paying attention to the prompts, whether it’s a life experience, fantasy, sudden inspiration from nature, or just the love of words. All of these come together to create a finished piece.
Writers have to learn to pay attention.
Inspiring and Encouraging Each Other
Inspiration is what we can give to other writers, encouraging them to tell their story, write the movie, or record the day’s events from their perspective. And each of us needs encouragement to keep up the process of putting words and stories together.
And remember that the kernels of your next post, poem, or problem-solving piece, are within every writer I’ve ever known. Your muse holds them waiting for you to write.
Then the old familiar, “Write, revise and repeat.”
What do you do with your kernels? Write them in the best manner you can at this time. Have a few kernels bursting? Then remember that Two Drops of Ink looks for poems, writing tips, short stories, and book reviews.
Then take a look at our Submission Guidelines and think about joining us.
Two Drops of Ink: The Home for Collaborative Writing
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and India Books.