Friday, May 22, 2009

Saturday Soirée - Writing between the Sparks

This week I wrote about inspiration for my weekly column and wanted to stay with that theme here as well.

Inspiration sits at the foundation of our writing and it rises and falls as we follow the path along which our writing takes us. Sometimes though, or maybe I should say very often, inspiration seems to have a mind of her own and we become slaves to her whims and fancies.

In order to explore every nook and cranny and mountain and valley of our writing, we must learn to write between the sparks of inspiration.

When inspiration dances into our days, with her handful of delicacies, we must be quick to grab hold of her, dance along and sample her inspiring fare. Our daily commitments may not allow us to sit long with inspiration, move in sync with her rhythm and eat from her tempting menu. So we must be prepared to chip along for the brief moment we have, sniff the aromas and pinch a taste or two of her dishes without missing a beat of the rhythm of our day.

Then, there are times when we have the time or schedule time to write and inspiration does not come dancing and serving up her juicy goodies.

The place between inspiration’s appearances - between one jubilant spark and another - is where we discover our true writing mettle. It is there we learn to dig for treasure in our own backyards, as it were.

These are two popular methods of lighting a fire under our writing when inspiration doesn’t come calling.

Use prompts. They are short pieces designed to give us a creative jolt. Not every prompt will hit your bulls-eye. Keep searching until you find one with a sharp point that lands on target and you’re off.

Use timed writing. You don’t have to depend on someone else’s prompts. Set a timer for a short time, say 10, 20, no more than 30 minutes. Then write whatever comes to your mind. Treat it like toxic material - get it out of your head, fast. If it makes sense in the end, fix it and use it. If you write gibberish, as you surely will sometimes, don’t throw it away just yet. Shuffle through for any potential properties to explore. You may choose to keep all your timed gibberish in a folder. If that’s your fancy then do it.

How do you write between the sparks of inspiration?


Terri Tiffany said...

Good post! I find it hard to write between inspiration but I do because if I sit and start writing, eventually something will come along:)

Cheryl Wright said...

And that's the point Terri. As wonderful a guest as inspiration is, unless we get used her fleeting visits, punctuated with long periods of absence, and learn to write without her, our writing will suffer and may eventually, fade into an unfulfilled dream and, God forbid, disappear altogether along with our early passion to pursue it.

As you say - sit and start and eventually, something will come along.

Magnolia said...

I've learned it comes and goes. Sometimes, it's right there and pushes me along......effortlessly. But, most of the time I feel like I'm sitting on a bench waiting for the bus. Twiddling my thumbs. Tapping my leg, folding and unfolding my arms. Staring into space, out the window. You name it.

I'm coming to terms with the notion that brilliance and great writing is not guaranteed everytime you sit down to write.

But, I love those times when inspiration really hits. It's magnificent.

Anonymous said...

This is great advice Cheryl!
I needed this today!!

Cheryl Wright said...

My dear, dear Mags,

Inspiration who?

Ms. Inspiration has nothing on you. Your life is your inspiration and I see it in your writing.

Magnolia said...

That's cuz you're a nice to me. :)

Cheryl Wright said...

Tabitha in Bliss,

You give so much of yourself in your writing and in your daily life.

I'm blessed to be the vessel through which God gave you what you needed today.

Cheryl Wright said...

Ah shucks. How can I not be nice to you Mags? You make it easy.

Jan said...

Lovely thoughts! I appreciate the poetry that flows through your words here. Especially about igniting the sparks. :-) I do often use prompts. Quotes, especially (as I mention in my current blog post). They always help. Really start the wheels turning. Another is to write a note to a friend. Or just send a quick card to a dear one with a whoosh of love in it. The whoosh comes back to me in seconds and fills me up. The Muse has landed. Either process seems to get the juices flowing then I can switch over to the computer where I do my "professional" writing. (I used to handwrite all my columns, but no more.) Though today I went to blogging and next I will go to weeding!

So this morning, guess who I was writing to. YOU! The letter is done and ready to go in the mail and it served as a perfect prompt for me to get my soulful writing self up and energized. It was really fun. xoxo

Joanne said...

Between inspirations, I'll often work on the technical stuff - revising, querying, scheduling blog posts, managing files even. I guess what I'm doing at that time is finetuning the previous inspirations that I've put down on paper, polishing those ideas until more come along. Because we have to be sure to not only get those inspirations down, but bring them to their fullest potential, thus the technical end. Have a nice weekend, Cheryl!

Cheryl Wright said...

Hey Jan,
That’s an interesting way to crank up your writing - writing or emailing someone. I can see how a “whoosh of love” can stimulate your heart and get the words flowing. I’ll try it sometime.

Mixing it up is also a fun way to find inspiration - blogging and then weeding. When I mix things up, I get - read blogs, comment on blogs, read more blogs, read comments on blogs, comment on blogs, follow links to other blogs, read more blogs, etc.

Handwriting a letter or journaling never fails to pump my writing muscles. I write most of my personal essays after a long journaling entry.

I look forward to receiving your letter and reading what got your “soulful writing self up and energized.”

Cheryl Wright said...


Usually we think that a meditative/reflective session is the best way to spark our creativity. Clearly you’ve tried and proved that serious work inspires writing or any creative activity for that matter.

Jeanne Dininni said...


I certainly agree that, as professional writers, we must learn to write between the sparks, doing whatever it takes to jump-start the creative process. What that is will vary at different times, in different moods and situations.

The key, I think, is to find something that will stir up our passion and energize our imagination. Whether it be music, a good book, a conversation with a friend, a stroll outdoors, a visit to a favorite blog to drink in new ideas and fresh perspectives, or a foray through the pages of our favorite photo album, we can draw vitality from treasured memories or new experiences and let ourselves absorb the beauty and wisdom that surround us.

When all else fails, we can still create a mental place where we are free to envision and feel and recreate our past experiences and process our present thoughts into something of beauty, nobility, and grace.

Thanks for writing a post so liberally sprinkled with sparks of inspiration, while sharing some highly practical tips for keeping our Muse engaged!


Cheryl Wright said...


Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments and for your thoughtful input on how to write between the sparks.

I'm so happy to have you visit and comment on different posts. I do so appreciate your voice of wisdom and experience.

Jeanne Dininni said...


I always enjoy reading your posts, which are filled with such elegance and grace. Your wonderful way with words -- along with the substance your posts always contain -- never fail to inspire me to rise to the occasion and do my best to write an equally inspiring comment.

Thanks for sharing your heart here as you simultaneously share the wisdom gleaned from your experience as a writer.

It's always a pleasure to visit your blog!


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