By Jordan Hales
How do you know what to write? Where do the ideas come from? From what is your inspiration pulled? Do you stare at the wall until it tells you what to write? Do you ask Pinterest for writing prompts? Do you wait until someone tells you what to write? How do you know what to write?
How does an artist decide what to paint? How does a songwriter find her muse? How does an architect know where to start? How does a dancer know which way to move and shape their body? How does a writer know what to write?
How do I—as a writer—know what to write?
I stare at the wall. I ask Pinterest for writing prompts. I wait until someone tells me what to write. But that doesn’t usually work. Does it? Unless, of course, I’m being graded.
How do I—as a writer—know what to write for myself?
Period here. Comma there, semicolon over there; em dash around here—maybe. Proper grammar this, correct spelling that. The rules of English are sometimes impossible.
How do I, as a writer, know what to write—for me?
It’s not easy to say, anymore than it is to write. There’s no instruction manual. It doesn’t always make sense. It’s sometimes relatable; and sometimes it’s not. I ask myself this repetitive question everyday:
How do I know what to write?
I sit quietly at my desk—my own creative space. I stand up and open my window, knowing the sounds of nature will tune me in. I sit back down, spin in my chair. I get back up. I make some tea, pace around for a bit. Sit on the floor. Lay on the floor. Stand back up. Sit back in my chair at my desk, and force myself to focus. “It’s loud in here,” my mind says. ”Just write your thoughts down and out of your brain” The chaos can be deafening. I listen to myself, the birds, the wind and rain, the cars as they drive by, my heart—waiting for anything to relate to me.
I stare at my plants, and the vase that’s always full of the most vibrant flowers. I think about my life. The good in it, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly. Which emotion is taking over today? Love; sadness; joy; anger; fear? My anxiety sure has a lot to say. But so does my peace.
After all the thinking and pacing and worrying and chaos and laughter and tears and love and wall staring and carpet pacing and hoping and dreaming and…
…there it is… inspiration…