What Inspires Me To Write

27 Feb

Someone recently asked me this – what inspires me to write? At first I thought it might be easier to answer, “What doesn’t inspire me to write?” But then I realized the answer to that is nothing. There’s nothing that doesn’t inspire me. I get my inspiration from anywhere at any time.

I’d love to hear from other authors here, to find out what inspires them, but for me, life inspires me. I’m one of those people that watches everyone around me. When I see strangers, I automatically create a backstory for them. Sometimes, I’ll hear a word or a phrase and decide I have to use it in a story, so I’ll write one. That happened in a story I had published years ago, “Interfacing.” Someone told me they’d just read the word “telephonically.” Instead of “I’ll call you,” they said “I’ll contact you telephonically.” Seriously? That word just had to be used in a story. So I wrote Interfacing and it was published in an anthology.

Weather inspires me – if it’s cold and cloudy, I just want to stay inside and write. If it’s sunny and warm, the world is a beautiful place and I’m filled with the energy to write.

Short stories are easy because the call for submission usually has a theme. And those totally inspire me. If it’s a theme I can get into – say… erotic… or women.. or, well, you get the idea LOL, I’m off and running.

The truth is, I wake up in the morning and the first thing I think about is where I left my characters the night before. Then there’s that drag of 9-5 when I have to waste my time working the day job. Then there’s the couple of hours in the evening that I spend on my night job. And then – FINALLY- it’s time to write. But honestly – during the day job, I research things and make notes, and jot down ideas, because the story is with me all the time.

I don’t know if this answered the question. If not, let me know and I’ll try to be more specific, but the truth is – life is the start of my inspiration, but it’s really the support and encouragement of readers that truly keeps me going.

Thoughts? Questions? Feedback always appreciated!


Posted by on February 27, 2011 in Writing


40 responses to “What Inspires Me To Write

  1. Carrie Carr

    February 27, 2011 at 10:16

    Very cool inspirations 🙂

    I’m a lot like you, in that respect. Sometimes I’ll see or hear something that gets the creative juices flowing 🙂

    Most of the time though, it’s dreams. I have some of the craziest dreams – and sometimes those dreams will continue to come until I finally give in and write them down.

    My first book was the consequence of a dream that would not leave me alone – twelve years later, those same characters still chat with me 🙂

  2. mjwilliamz

    February 27, 2011 at 10:20

    That’s interesting. You know – I’m one of those people who dreams every night. And I have the most bizarre, animated, off-the-wall dreams. They usually stay with me for a couple of days. And do you know I’ve never once written them down or paid attention to them as inspiration for a book? What an excellent idea! Thanks for posting, Carrie

    • R. E. "Decky" Bradshaw

      February 27, 2011 at 11:30

      There must be a thread among writers, because most of my stories come from dreams, too. I even go take a nap when I’m trying to work out something in a novel and usually dream the answer.
      I also am a student of people. As an actress, I was taught to observe everyone around me. That’s how you learn to create characters different from yourself. I pick up bits of conversations and within minutes have created a backstory for the people I’m listening to. It’s cheap entertainment when you’re waiting for your meal at a restaurant or standing in line at the grocery store.
      I grew up with a brother, but we are very different people. We didn’t spend much time together. I tended to wander off and create my own little world, with imaginary characters to play with. We often lived in the country where there were no other kids nearby, or I was the only girl for miles. If I wasn’t off somewhere playing sports, I spent a lot of time with my imaginary friends. So, I’ve been creating worlds other than my own for as long as I can remember. I think that experience is at the root of my inspiration.

      • mjwilliamz

        February 27, 2011 at 11:37

        Thanks for the input Decky! I guess I’m gonna have to give this dream thing some serious thought, huh?

  3. Lara Zielinsky

    February 27, 2011 at 12:04

    All of us have profound moments of thought, an insight into the state of existence from one event or moment or another. What makes the difference is the writer is inspired to convey it outward, not simply keep this profundity to herself. Musicians, visual creatives of every type, are inspired to *share*, to get it out of themselves somehow.

  4. bobbi d.

    February 27, 2011 at 13:25

    Many things I see and like on film inspires me. In Between the Lines, there was a thread of the film The Quiet Man. The movie had been playing on AMC and I used the reference from the beginning and ended with it, too.

    In Loving Liz, I was watching a History Channel show on the last North American ice age. That triggered a thread that became inportant to the story. Fun, too.

    I dunno. I never write about dreams I write about what I like: theater, classical music, writing. I just find my obsession of the day and write about it.

    Now, if I can just get The Virginal off the ground, I could die a happy writer. I haven’t given up on that story.

    • mjwilliamz

      February 27, 2011 at 13:51

      Yea, Bobbi! Glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t write about my dreams. I like the idea of an obsession du jour… I think that’s pretty much what I write, too.
      Where are you with The Virginal? Have you submitted it anywhere recently?

      • bobbi d.

        February 27, 2011 at 13:58

        Hi MJ. No, The story is collecting cyber dust on my flashdrive. 🙂 She needs some rewritting and I’ve been *cough cough* chicken to try that story again. I feel there is much good writing, but I also fear not getting the genre right. So, I think constantly of what to do to make it right, and then find the guts to do it.

        If there is a second submission, I will send it only to BSB. That’s not a “family” thing. I simply wouldn’t want to deal with a different editor who might try to change my style.

        I’m thrilled about your new book. YAY!

  5. mjwilliamz

    February 27, 2011 at 14:03

    So if The Virginal is collecting cyber dust, what’s new and exciting in your writing world? I see Loving Liz is getting fantastic reviews. I can’t wait til I can afford to buy it. I have been looking forward to it for so long now!

    • bobbi d.

      February 27, 2011 at 14:18

      New? Oy.

      Nada. A wrote a bit for another Marty and Liz story, but I’m having second thoughts about book 2. Aside from that, I’ve been a lazy writer.

      • mjwilliamz

        February 27, 2011 at 14:27

        Have you given any thought to writing more short stories?

  6. bobbi d.

    February 27, 2011 at 14:48

    LOL None at all. It’s YOUR fault I wrote the only one ever.

    They’re more difficult than a novel, I think. Too concise for me to make much sense out of something shorter than 70,000 words.

    I admire all writers who can do a short story. I almost envy them.

    • carriecarr

      February 27, 2011 at 14:51

      I feel the same way, Bobbi. I’m not a good enough writer to develop characters well in a short story. Those that do, impress the heck out of me!

      • mjwilliamz

        February 27, 2011 at 15:10

        Y’all are crackin me up. It’s SOOO much easier to write a short story (In my opinion) than it is to maintain a storyline through a novel.

  7. bobbi d.

    February 27, 2011 at 15:17

    High five to Carrie.

    MJ, in a novel, I get to bullshit my way through. 🙂 Plenty of time to make it work.

    • mjwilliamz

      February 27, 2011 at 15:19

      LOL So THAT’s the secret to successful novel writing! Thanks

  8. carriecarr

    February 27, 2011 at 15:21

    Amen, Bobbi! Bullshitting, and LOTS of it. LOL!! That’s my motto!

  9. mjwilliamz

    February 27, 2011 at 15:23

    Y’all are BOTH full of BS and I don’t mind saying so! LMAO

    • bobbi d.

      February 27, 2011 at 15:30

      Seriously! LOL Here’s an example from Loving Liz and I apologize if the format is screwy:

      Marty was speechless. When she’d made the comment, she hadn’t thought for a second that she was the cause of an unsettling breach in Liz’s sexuality. It saddened her, and the responsibility conflicted with the joy of now getting to know Liz.
      “I was twenty-two then,” was all she could think to say.
      “I’d just turned the same age.” She turned her hand and held tightly onto Marty’s.
      “This is where I need a great line written for me.”

      The lines:

      “I was twenty-two then,” was all she could think to say.


      “This is where I need a great line written for me.”

      I had no clue how Marty should respond to what Liz had told her. I wanted something “deep”. LOL Nothing came and she had to say something. Luckily the lines worked.

      I guess sometimes less IS more.

      • mjwilliamz

        February 27, 2011 at 15:48

        So you’re telling me your talent is accidental? I don’t buy that

  10. carriecarr

    February 27, 2011 at 15:30


  11. bobbi d.

    February 27, 2011 at 16:37

    Not accidental. For the most part, I think I’m pretty good at telling a story. There are just times when I need to throw down what seems like “crap” but, in the long run it works.

    Those words of Marty’s actually fit the mood of the scene, and I didn’t realize it until I edited.

    • carriecarr

      February 27, 2011 at 16:39

      Isn’t it wild how that happens sometimes? I sometimes go back during the editing phase and say, “Huh. I had no idea that worked so well.” Although, there are even more times I go, “WTH?” LOL!

      • bobbi d.

        February 27, 2011 at 16:44

        It’s magical, isn’t it? LOL
        But yeah, those WTH moments are frequently present, too.

  12. carriecarr

    February 27, 2011 at 16:47

    I have a question for the other writers here, if that’s okay.

    Have any of you gone back, years later, and read one of your books – only to say, “What the hell was I thinking?”

    Or, are you completely pleased with the work you’ve put out?

    • mjwilliamz

      February 27, 2011 at 16:52

      That’s a great question. I hope you get some responses to it. I know I cringe at some of the short stories I’ve had published, but have read others and thought, ” DAYUM did I write that?? LOL However, since I’ve only got the one book actually out so far, I can’t speak directly to your question

      • carriecarr

        February 27, 2011 at 17:01

        Okay – but have you ever reread *something* you wrote in the past and totally freaked out, wondering why on earth you wrote what you did? Be it short story, novel, or even a story your wrote for your own enjoyment.

    • Lara Zielinsky

      February 27, 2011 at 17:05

      I’ve done this, but not with anything published. I have a story ideas folder, each separated out by concept or working title… and occasionally I’ll flip through them, and while some are outlines, many have opening pages for the story itself… and I’ll cringe at a turn of phrase, or trite piece of dialogue. I’ve grown so much since those initial ideas were formed they don’t even sound like I wrote them anymore, and it makes me cringe to think I did, even long ago.

  13. Rachel Spangler

    February 27, 2011 at 16:54

    I’m much like you MJ, I get inspired from just about anything. Learning Curve was inspired by a song. Trails Merge was inspired by a setting. The Long Way home, by a motivational speaker.

    One constant thing though is that I am a terrible evesdropper. I will listen in on anyone at any time. I’m often out with my wife and she’ll say “You didn’t hear a word I just said, but I be whatever that couple at the next table is talking about will end up in a book.”

    Just last night the women at the Olive Garden had this little gem of a conversation. Woman 1: Well they’ve been together a while now.” Woman 2: And of course after that long the romance dies down and you know what happens then.” Woman 1: Nods knowingly “Well of course”.

    I wanted to be like. “I don’t know what happens, tell me tell me!” I’ve been coming up with things in my mind ever since, I’ve got a few theories. 🙂

    • mjwilliamz

      February 27, 2011 at 17:05

      I’m so with you on the eavesdropping. Anyone conversing within earshot is fair game. I’ve been busted, too. Right in the middle of dinner I’ll start laughing at something I hear only to have my date ask what was so funny. When I answer, “Didn’t you hear that?” I’m generally met with a blank stare. LOL

  14. Carsen Taite

    February 27, 2011 at 18:04

    I am a notorious eavesdropper – I swear I can’t help it, and it’s great for story ideas. Beyond that, I’m pretty much inspired by anything. Thanks for the good convo, MJ.

    • mjwilliamz

      February 27, 2011 at 18:35

      Thanks for stopping by, Carsen. You’re also fortunate in that the work you do can lend itself to storylines, yes?

  15. mjwilliamz

    February 27, 2011 at 19:27

    Did I happen to mention that WOMEN inspire my writing? LOL

  16. Catherine Friend

    February 28, 2011 at 04:35

    Why do I write? I heard a woman say, when asked why she knits, that she knits so she doesn’t kill anyone.

    Ha. I think that’s why I write. I get a little crazy if I don’t. 🙂

    • mjwilliamz

      February 28, 2011 at 08:14

      LOL! I think you’re right, there, Catherine. Asking why we write is like asking why we breathe, don’t you think?
      Thanks for the post!

  17. Carol

    March 1, 2011 at 15:57

    Thanks for the insight MJ.
    And thank you for another great word “telephonically”.
    I love it.

  18. mjwilliamz

    March 1, 2011 at 16:08

    LOL! I sooo enjoy the fact that you love words as much as I!

  19. cmmarcum

    March 2, 2011 at 15:10

    Ideas come to me like bolts of lightening. I don’t know why; I’m just standing there doing nothing and wham! “Where’s my pen?”

    I like that thing you’ve got in your sidebar: If you’re under 18, please move along. I use to have a W.C. Fields quote: Go away kid. You bother me.

    • mjwilliamz

      March 2, 2011 at 15:14

      Thanks for the post! I used to carry a tiny notebook in my pocket to write ideas when those bolts hit!
      Oh – and anyone who quotes WC Fields is all right in my book!


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