Feeding the Fire Within – Creative Inspiration


I’ve been working on a writing project for a while now, a book. This book idea has taken a very long journey – it started when I (finally!) finished my thesis for my Master’s in English and got my degree. Now, I figured, at long last I had the time to write short stories, work on getting them published, and eventually work up to writing books.

Well, it didn’t work out that way. Instead, I got an idea about a girl with what I term wacky powers, and a family to which she’s suddenly introduced when she’s sixteen. This idea, about this girl and these family members, who are all lost or twisted in some way, kept growing, and growing, and growing. It clearly wasn’t a short story idea, but a book. I was overwhelmed by my own idea back then and couldn’t nurture it, so I put it aside.

Then I moved across the country to San Francisco, took writing classes, and found an incredibly supportive writing group (I’m talking about you, Madeline, Daisy, and Rebecca). I excavated my book idea, worked hard on it, and it grew and flourished.

And then I went through some major life changes, and I had to put the book aside for another interlude.

Oh, how many permutations this idea has gone through. But – I am working on it once again. And part of my motivation process to finish it and polish it, I’ve decided, will be this blog. Why? Well –

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

In the process of motivating myself to write on a regular basis and stare down the blank page, I’ve read a few books on writing and the creative process. The most useful to me so far has been Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Guide to Higher Creativity. I stayed away from this book for a while because it seemed suspiciously cheesy, vaguely reeking of yoga (which until recently I spurned) and pseudo-spirituality. Still, the interactivity model that I glimpsed as I flipped through the pages was somewhat enticing, and eventually I decided to read the book and attempt the exercises.

Here’s one of the things that struck me the most about this truly useful book. Cameron talks about how the artist needs to fill the well – “…think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do….Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery.” Cameron is speaking here about artistic inspiration – the fuel that feeds the fire of determination to be true to your creative self and get out what is inside you, whether it’s playing the cello or painting a portrait or writing a book.

Since I’ve read Cameron’s book, I’ve noticed that seeking out interesting and intriguing experiences, whether it’s going to an art museum or the park or even a movie, often resonates for me into creative ideas. It’s a constant process, seeking out inspiration, or at least remembering to be open to it. The inspiration in turn motivates me to turn a blank page into a page of almost indecipherable scribbling. And as I write, I discover more about what I’m creating.

So I thought, why not chronicle on a (somewhat) weekly basis both what inspires me, and what thoughts result? A truly meandering chronicle, mind you, leaping from a song one week, to a book I can’t put down the next, to a movie with striking imagery, to the wonder of a leaf I saw lying on the ground. Perhaps this chronicle will be of some use or interest to others – and it will another motivational tool for me, to stay on the creative path.

There’s a phrase in Cameron’s book: “As I create and listen, I will be led.” As I carefully create and listen, I’ll do my best to share my process – and perhaps I’ll learn from you in this process as well.



Filed under creative process

5 responses to “Feeding the Fire Within – Creative Inspiration

  1. Great to see the new blog, Amy. It’s incredibly daunting to start–and complete–an artistic project, but the results are incredibly satisfying. I look forward to following along your journey.

  2. Dave

    Good to see such ambition. I wish you well on your new project this year. I’ve learned from you already: “Think mystery, not mastery” I’ll remember that. In my writing I started with mystery and after reading some ‘how to’ books switched to mastery. I’ll try flipping back over.

  3. John Stivers

    Greet blog Amy. Glad to read/participate.
    I like the idea of focusing on mystery and mastery. I find myself moving my focus back and forth between the two. There is an art to writing, and there is the craft of writing, and we must pay attention to both, to keep them in balance. I read Cameron’s book years ago, and got a lot out of it. You’ve inspired me to re-read it.

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