Triple I of writers: Inspiration, Ideas, Imagination

 “Inspiration, Ideas, Imagination”  are only a part of the writing process but they are a MAJOR one.

Stephen King mentioned in his book On Writing (which I still have not read – I need to get on this) that he gets his ideas from a “small, bloodthirsty elf who lives in a hole under my desk”.  Hmm any of you have one of those little elves (they do sound scary though). While this elf is less scary, I also don’t think Mister King has Will Ferrell under his desk.

Ok Mister King also said that: “I get my ideas from everywhere. But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.”  So it appears that M. King is both active and passive in his ways of getting the Triple I.

Where do writers get them?” vs. “Where do they hit writers?”

 The construction of those two sentences says it all. In one case, we’re the subject and in the other we become the direct object.

Are we passive or active in our quest for the shiny twist or the unforgettable character?

I started pondering about this because of the flash fiction I posted on my blog on Monday and which you can read here. This little piece which started with a given sentence has since then tickled my fancy.  I enjoyed the voice, it felt easy and right but the characters would like me to tell their story. I have to shush them right now because I’m revising and I already started another draft of another story. But I digress.

I never stopped to think about my ideas. I have them. Or not. Depending on the days but I do rely on them to keep me going. Sometimes, they flow through my fingertips. Sometimes, I go through the creative process, where I try to find new ideas, new twists and whenI stop to ask the “What if?” question. I can ask this question in very random places or just by watching people go about their business. I am very good at the “What if?” I can get a bit on the anxious side  using this way of thinking in my daily tasks.

My husband who reads this is probably rolling his eyes at the words  “a bit”…

While I need to lower my “What if” scenarios when it comes to my non-writing endeavours, I think it does help me a lot, even subconsciously, with my creative process.

I strongly believe that writers are both active and passive in their quest. We have integrated certain processes and our imagination runs wild at unexpected places. However, we also work towards our “Triple I”. How? We read a lot, we scrap entire passages in our writing process because we know it does not work and we buckle up for the tough ride which is writing. We trigger our “Triple I” buttons by consciously taking part in prompts, in discussions…We type, even if it is only a few words, even if those words hurt because we know that, for the most part, the triple I is around there with us. It helps us to almost forget about those difficult moments when the writing gets going and when we fall in our happy, fulfilling, exciting writing place.

What do YOU think? Are we passive or active with our Triple I?

9 Comments

  1. theRibz says:

    I definitely agree. We are both active and passive in our writing experience. It needs a small/or bog thing to trigger our imagination, and then it’s work and patience that keeps us going.

  2. Eve says:

    Active and Passive for sure. But What If is very important. Without it we wouldn’t have a very good story in my opinion. Each day is different and each day we as writers have challenges we face and must overcome.

    And no I don’t have a little elf under my desk. It would probably bite my toes and thus force me to extract it as I am very fond of my toes 🙂

  3. Colin says:

    Definitely active and passive, Elodie. Passive in that, sometimes an idea will hit when two or three thoughts have a random get-together in my head, either in a dream, or during the day when I’m not even aware those thoughts are roaming around. Active in that I’m reading, thinking, and listening. Just the other day I overheard a conversation at work that would make for a very interesting “what if” scenario.

  4. Jaime says:

    Same as everyone else: active and passive. My current WiP sprang from a newspaper headline I saw while killing time in an airport. I’m always asking ‘What if’ questions. 😀

  5. Kitty says:

    I just watched Alice In Wonderland with my sick daughter today and this makes me think of when she says “I sometimes think of six impossible things before breakfast.” I think writers are like that! Sometimes things just come out of nowhere and we think “what if?” Great post, Elodie. And I love the new picture!

  6. Kris Atkins says:

    Personally, I’m both. I’d say, for my initial ideas I’m mostly passive (the idea, in a very rough, bare form will just hit me!), although sometimes I hear something and think, “I want to turn that into a book.” However, once I get the initial idea, I become more active in my quest to flesh out the idea, although there’s still reception/passivity on my part. So yes, that’s me.

    Great post!

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