By Ruth Granger-Wellens
I just arrived home from a journey of a lifetime – driving to Alaska from Wisconsin! Well, my husband drove. In fact, he planned the whole trip – each route, each hotel reservation, each small tour we took to see glaciers and wildlife and – I rode along. He read, studied, and talked to people who had done a similar trip. In the months and weeks leading up to our departure date, I tried very hard to read about where we were going. But I just couldn’t get a picture in my head. When we started out, and as I rode along – waiting, wondering, anticipating – I realized that this trip was a lot like the journey of writing.
First there is the idea – like going to Alaska. As we traveled the roads, I didn’t know what was around any corner or beyond the hill or in the next town. I trusted that my husband was going in the right direction. I did some reading about the area we were in or going to while in the car, and, of course, I did a lot of observing and thinking. I was never disappointed.
When we write, we first come up with the idea. This is true whether writing a short story, nonfiction, a blog or a book. Then we begin the journey of writing. We have a direction to go in, hopefully with a sense of what the outcome will be, but we don’t know with absolute certainty how we will get there. What will the characters do? Where will the plot go? What words will make the most sense so the meaning is as clear as it can be? Our writing will take turns and detours, go up and down roads, see exquisite pictures, hit road blocks, and be rewritten many times before it arrives at its conclusion.
Alaska was amazing; with hard work
and good editing, our writing can also be amazing.
By Terry C. Misfeldt
Writing requires finding inspiration. Whatever inspires you delivers words to enliven your manuscript. Giggles from your two-year-old grandson as you transport him across the swimming pool. Warm cuddles from your four-year-old granddaughter who seldom sees her grandpa. Rivulets of rain rolling down the gutter and flooding the street. Dark clouds swirling downward counterclockwise in a severe thunderstorm as you watch a tornado touch down.
Whatever captures your senses serves as inspiration to
write. When it happens, try to capture it and bring it to life in the pages of
your document. Add details or fabricate them. The grandson wearing floaties and
fascinated by the water flowing into the pool filter. Your granddaughter
wrapped in her favorite blanket and, of course, in her favorite color. Cars
ripping through the pouring rain despite a blinding downfall. Your neighbor’s
trees whipping in the tumult of strong winds ripping away limbs.
If it’s hard to remember people, events, or other activities that inspire you, carry a notepad and pen with you to jot down what you’ve experienced. I have found that our mental capacity is far greater than that of any computing device on the market.
I am inspired by memories from my childhood and find that some of those incidents remain vivid decades later. One that will never perish is of the first home I remember where one closet separated my parent’s bedroom from that of my brother and me. We could walk from our bedroom through the closet into my parent’s bedroom. Hey, I was less than five years old so it was more fun than dangerous.
Seek inspiration from your family, friends, work, leisure, vacations, travel, hobbies, home life, or doing whatever you’re doing wherever you are.
Keep a journal and use it to be inspired.