“Hello! Is Anyone There?” Answering Inspiration’s Calls

My sun room beckons as a perfectly lovely place to read a newly released teaching book.  I finish the first section of the book and move on to part two.  Suddenly, a completely unrelated thought enters my mind.  A thought that is more of a story idea, really, and along with this idea I feel a sense of urgency to do something with it.  I recognize this.  It is inspiration’s signature calling card.  I need to answer the call.

I leave my book open and go to the notebook dedicated to capturing these ideas when they visit me.  I know if I ignore it and continue with what I am doing, the idea will completely leave me.  I grab a pen, open to a clean page, and begin writing.

Sometimes when this happens, I write a lot.  Other times, I only write a small amount.  Quantity does not matter as much as simply writing whatever it is that inspiration sees fit to bring to me.

At times, I walk away from these episodes puzzled, because what I have written makes absolutely no sense.  I have learned, though, that if I wait long enough, inspiration will add to it or the pieces I have written here and there will begin to fit together in some way.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic, says inspiration’s ideas are like “disembodied, energetic life forms” which she says are “driven to be made manifest.”  All I know is that it does not happen all of the time.  I spend many writing sessions staring at blank pages.  However, when inspiration does call, I have learned it is best to answer it and give it my undivided attention.

12 thoughts on ““Hello! Is Anyone There?” Answering Inspiration’s Calls

  1. Tracy, I hear you. When I am inspired, I need to get my thoughts down fast. It is great to hear the same message from a colleague because my husband does not understand the necessity to write late at night. I am rereading “Big Magic”-such a great book. Good luck with your inspired ideas. Right now, my inspiration is being channeled to create an engaging 4-day ELA Summer Institute for grad students. I want to bring the best of research and fieldwork to inspire them to empower their students to be lifelong readers and writers. Happy Summer!

    • Carol, I love the idea for your ELA Summer Institute! I am sure your grad students will take the powerful ideas they are learning and, along with your example and their own creativity, will create incredibly empowering classroom environments for their learners. Enjoy the process and Happy Summer to you, as well!

  2. I agree-when inspiration strikes, it definitely needs attention. I know that there have been so many times when I haven’t stopped to jot down ideas that popped into my head and regretted it later. I haven’t read Big Magic, but it sounds like one that I need to check out!

    • Jen, “Big Magic” is a great book. Jen L. recommended it during one of our workshops. I am so glad that she did. I don’t know how many ideas I lost before I finally started taking the time to write what was fresh in my mind!

  3. You are so right that it is important to get those ideas down when the inspiration hits. My problem is that I most often get these ideas while driving!
    Great post and thank you for a new read!

    • Lol! My inspiration often hits in the shower. I hate it when that happens! I can’t wait to hear what you think of Big Magic!

  4. It’s great that you stopped, grabbed your pen, opened to a clean page, and wrote. I need to do this more often. Sometimes, the fact that a notebook isn’t handy keeps me from responding. So I’ve tried to be less worried about a specific notebook, and more focused on just writing. Your words – “I have learned, though, that if I wait long enough, inspiration will add to it or the pieces I have written here and there will begin to fit together in some way,” remind me of the Joy Harjo quote that I shared last week in my Poetry Friday post.

    • When my notebook isn’t present, I use whatever I can find- post it notes, the notes app on my phone, a napkin,…lol. I just know that if I don’t at least jot notes about it, I will completely lose it. This is so hard when school is in session, and I’m in the midst of teaching. I try to keep sticky notes within arm’s reach.

  5. I truly need to start an idea/ inspiration notebook. I’ve thought about it for awhile, but once the school year starts, it will be essential, with all the other details to keep up with!

    • That is true, Chris. During this past school year, I had a pocket-sized notebook that I would jot ideas in when I couldn’t spend time really fleshing it out. I also used lots of sticky notes. I would put them on my desk to be collected at the end of the day. Then I would gather them and put them into my small notebook to be taken home where I could spend time writing at length.

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