The Mystery of Inspiration in Writing

by Jan 15, 2018Writing Tips

When he delivered his Nobel Lecture in 2005, entitled Art, Truth and Politics, the playwright Harold Pinter said the following:

‘I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did.

Most of the plays are engendered by a line, a word, or an image. The given word is often shortly followed by the image. I shall give two examples of two lines which came right out of the blue into my head, followed by an image, followed by me.

The plays are The Homecoming and Old Times. The first line of The Homecoming is ‘What have you done with the scissors?’ The first line of Old Times is ‘Dark.’

In each case, I had no further information.

In the first case, someone was obviously looking for a pair of scissors and was demanding their whereabouts of someone else he suspected had probably stolen them. But I somehow knew that the person addressed didn’t give a damn about the scissors or about the questioner either for that matter.’

 

The 7 Day Writing Challenge

WINGS: Words Inspire, Nourish and Grow the Spirit

He went on to say that he begins by calling his characters A, B and C – with no idea who they are until he begins writing, and they ‘reveal’ themselves to him.

This aspect of writing – the magical, the unplanned, the inspired part, is a relationship writers develop with a hidden part of themselves we learn to trust. Some of us like to know upfront how things will plan out, who is who, what is what, where the story is going, to have the structure all mapped out. I have met writers like this and they intimidate the crap out of me. Like they have a road map they’re following and simply have to fill in the narrative. I can’t tame my game like this. When I start, I usually have no idea where my story is going. I just have a feeling. I like not to know where my story is going and to discover my characters as I write.

If you are ‘waiting’ to know where your story is taking you before you commit words to the page, stop waiting. Start writing. The act of writing engenders the story, it tweaks open the valves and gets the juices flowing.

Start with a sentence. Any sentence. And pursue it quietly like a creature you’re following to its hidden lair.

Women’s Bodies Over the Twentieth Century

'Civilization is a circle squared . That’s why in civilized societies, women’s lot and Nature’s lot has been such a sorry one. It’s the duty of advanced women to teach men to love the circle again.’ - Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues If ever our bodies held...

Doppelganger

You are my terrible twin.We were knotted together even as I slipped,womb-blinded, from the darkness into light,the cord severed. We will always be as Janus was,selves torn between the ancient facethat looks forward from the doorwayand the young one that looks...

Zoom In

Holy shit. I need glasses. Like clockwork, the switch for my blurry vision gene was flicked on the day I turned forty. I’m not sure why I was surprised. I’m the one who, for decades, was prepared for my period every fourth Tuesday at ten o’clock. Some women know the...

Surviving Teenagers

I call my kids to come see this YouTube video of some father in the US who ends his rant against his teenage daughter’s ‘I-hate-my-parents’ Facebook post, by emptying the barrel of a gun into her laptop. I suppose I’m hoping it’ll dawn on them I’m not such a terrible...

People with Passion Interview with Tanya Savva

'I love this part the best,' I said to my husband this morning. I had just finished nominating Tanya Savva's new book, The Adventures of Kenzie-Moo for the NSW Premier Literary Awards. There's something deeply happy-making about helping other people reach their...

A Simple Exchange of Niceties

Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake. - Wallace Stevens The first available appointment was for next week only. That was in nine days time. Enough time for hands, brains, eyelids and knee joints to form according to the charts. I took a walk. I needed...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *