Please welcome freelance editor Cassandra Brown to WU.  Cassandra was a quarter-finalist in our search for an unpublished contributor, and we’re thrilled she’s agreed to share her post with us.  Enjoy!

How To Be Inspired

One of the most asked questions to authors is “Where do you come up with your ideas?”

For many writers, though, we have no idea.  But we want to tell readers something so we usually just say, “Life inspires me” or “My kids are my inspiration” or even every query-reader’s nightmare “God told me to write this book.”

The thing is, there are as many sources of inspiration as there are writers.

What is inspiration?

The dictionary defines inspiration as two things; the first being the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

If you break it down, the heart of this definition is that one must be mentally stimulated. That means sitting in front of a blank computer screen or in front of an empty page is going to do nothing for you.

So how can you be mentally stimulated?

It’s scientifically proven that walking stimulates the mind and so this is what I usually recommend doing if you feel stuck. Just walk, don’t fret over not having any ideas. Just listen to the birds, the crunch under your feet, the sounds of car driving by, the laughter of the kids running past you. Go visit a park and listen to the mothers talk about their lives. Visit your local library and see what books people are checking out. Look at what they look at on the computer. Listen to what the librarians chatter about. At the grocery store, listen to the sounds and notice the smells. Visit a restaurant and observe conversations and the various relationships.

If you can’t do anything else, read a book.  Don’t just read the words on the page though, really immerse yourself in it.  Imagine the characters, think about what the setting really looks like.  Try drawing it.   (Then send your drawing to the author, i’m sure they’d get a kick out of it.)

The most important thing I can recommend is to carry a notebook. Just a tiny one, with a tiny pen, or at least eyeliner and the back of a receipt. Most phones now allow you to keep notes, some even by voice for those times when you just can’t write fast enough. Some even have video.

When inspiration hits (and it will) you’ll want to be ready for it.

The drawing in of breath

The second definition is the drawing in of breath, an inhalation. Have you ever seen a creative-type person stop mid sentence and get that far away look? That’s an idea brewing. It may have been a word, a phrase, the way the light has come in the window, a memory, an ache in the leg, the taste of a bitten tongue, the itch of a scalp, the feel of satin or cotton or metal.

Whatever it is, it makes the person draw in a breath. There’s a pause there.

The idea may turn out to be nothing at all, but at least it was there. And where there is one, many are sure to follow.

I wish every writer many deep and fruitful breaths.

C.A. Marshall is a freelance editor, lit agent intern, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She can be found in Emmett, MI and at