Inspiration, Outlines, and the Creative Process

I have said before that inspiration comes from within. I understand that many others have said such a thing, or implied prior to my arrival as a moonlighting , and as such, I don’t lay claim to the notion. If I were to check, the idea of inspiration, as it may apply to any number of things, is one that enjoys a universal ownership, a public domain of use. Not one person owns it; likewise, each would define it differently. Thus, as I say, inspiration ultimately comes from within an individual. Along the way, it will then be flavored and tempered by forces and influences within and then without that person. This then, would shape the direction, or perhaps the tone of whatever inspired work is in question.

The better question at the moment is– why am I concerned with the foundations of inspiration that are necessary to complete any artistic effort? Is it not enough to develop some story line, jot down a few hundred words, and then fashion a worthy and clever ending? I suppose it all depends on what the anticipated audience of your work is made up of, what are those expectations, and what is the intended objective. If it is simply to put together a neatly rhymed 25 page children’s book, then perhaps the process can be more of a mechanical one, and might possibly follow an outline or framework words.

The Outline

I’ve hated to use outlines for the purposes of writing ever since I can remember being introduced to them. Put simply, the outline, and whether or not it is a “living outline”, one which is allowed to change and conform to the topic as it unfurls, is wholly un-important to me. I simply despise them, and believe that the use of an outline, or if you will- a plan- must be usedwriting-an-outline on an extremely limited basis. They are dangerous to the process. One perfect example is the paragraph that is being written now. As this short effort was begun, there was not one inkling of a plan which would have sought to discuss the ill effects of an outline in writing, at least as it pertains to a creative styled writing. Now, if the subject were scientific, or even perhaps a psychological paper written in a scholarly manner, then I suppose that an outline would not only be helpful, but would also be utilized upon completion as the table of contents. I don’t have a problem with this type of outline, although it is still my belief that any type of pre-writing directive(s) hinders creativity.


was once quoted as saying that “I nearly always  just as I nearly always breathe…”, and Hemingway was ultimately consumed by his art. I believe that if any writer, if they be commercially successful or not, would have similar attitudes on why they write. I have found that to sit and write a thousand or so words, has a calming effect, and if by some way a coherent paper emerges from the jumbled mess of words; well then, that is simply a bonus, a by-product of the healing process. I’m inclined to believe, more and more as I grow older, that I was always meant to write something, even if it be a very short story every now and then, or maybe… maybe nothing at all that might be worthy of publication. For me, the process has always been a deeply personal one, and I remember reciting stories to myself long before I had the wherewithal or ability to put pen to paper or even as I do now, to sit in my moderately apportioned and comfortable office and to type out these mediocre masterpieces on a desk… and with the aid of Microsoft Word 2013.

This notion of “why do I write” is at the heart of where does my inspiration originate? As it happens, I write for myself. If I like a piece, then I am happy with it. It is a fact that there are at least more than a couple compositions which I published and which had a dismal showing… they didn’t really go anywhere, and they never impressed anyone. And yet, there are two of those which are favorites of mine. I have read them over and over, and as I read, I am so taken by them that I’m at times unsure if I, or another penned them! Indeed, I am so thrilled with the end result that I might believe someone of a higher caliber than myself wrote them. I it, even though no one else seems to even mildly enjoy it!

These so-called “failure” pieces are very often bits of inspiration which keep me going.

An analogy just occurred to me, actually in very real time, to the point that I stopped typing for a few moments. Consider a balsa wood glider, the kind that comes in three or four pieces, is model-airplaneneatly snapped together at pre-determined slots and seams, and then launches into the heavens by the hand of a child. No matter what the size, style, or cost of the glider, it will– to some extent– fly. However, the truly magical moment is when the glider meets the edge of some invisible breath of air, and is launched into an extended and effortless flight. The pilot of the glider may surmise, but will never know precisely the time or place when this spirited flight will occur. Accordingly, the one observing such flight will not be able to predict when the glider will lose her updraft, and fall from the gracefulness of flight. One any given day, such is the craft of the writer.

It is all a big gamble, and no one knows which day might produce flight, grandeur, achievement, and satisfaction; likewise, we never know which day will produce failure.

Still– we walk on, as straight and as forward as is possible…

Live, write, and keep going.

~