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What to Write?

by Linda Jenkinson |

Sweaty Question Mark

Thomas Edison said,

"Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.  Accordingly, a 'genius' is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework1."

Creative writing is 99% inspiration and 1% motivation. Once we find the inspiration it's almost a given that we will be motivated to write. The perspiration comes when we sweat over what to write. In order to write, we just need a good anti-perspirant: a topic we want to explore. Once we find the topic, inspiration takes over and motivates us to put it to paper (or these days, to keyboard).

Finding Inspiration

Remember: Every piece of writing starts with just one word. Sometimes we just need help to find the one we want to write about. Many writers use, writing prompts to find inspiration. The internet has plenty. Here are a few good links:

If you're feeling adventurous, try a random word generator and use the words you find to write a poem or short story. My poem "No Weskit" in the book, Mockingbird was written with ten random words. I used nine of them. At the end, the only word I had left was "weskit," hence, the title.

One site that has a great random word generator as well as several other creative ideas to spark your inspiration is Creativity

Another place to find ideas is on Social Media. You never know what you might see on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest! Instead of just sharing it on site, why not bring it back to your blog or tweak it for use in a story or poem?

Memory is also a good source of inspiration. Think back to your firsts, favorites, bests, and worsts: date, kiss, pet, Halloween costume, birthday party, vacation—and tell the tale.

Finally, don't dismiss paper as obsolete. Keep a notebook in your pocket or your purse. Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes and in all sorts of situations. When it strikes, be ready to capture it. Another Mockingbird poem was inspired by clouds I saw in the autumn sky on the way to an evening out. If I hadn't had my notebook with me, I would surely have forgotten this lovely moment:

  • "There were clouds in every shade of gray imagined
  • and just one patch of robin's-egg blue
  • showing that there are two sides to everything
  • even the autumn sky
  • low slung clouds
  • fringed with the icy tips of impending winter
  • billowing with inner winds that threatened to break through
  • and allow snowy pin feathers to flutter to the ground.

Keep things in order by transferring paper notes to your computer. My favorite computer notebook is CherryTree. There are other note taking apps that you may already be familiar with, but if you're looking for one try this link: comparison of notetaking software

What I like about Cherry tree is that it  1) is open-source and 2) has the functionality to print if I want a hard copy. Additionally, it is an rtf note taker that can export to pdf, html, or plain text. It also let's you password protect your notebooks and saves them in either XML or SQLite formats.

The main thing in finding inspiration is to actively look for it. Do that and you will always be able to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.


1. “Thomas Edison - Wikiquote.” 2014. Accessed October 7.

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