I used to think that the act of writing was best performed in a small cabin in the woods, or perhaps on a quiet dock overlooking a lake, or some other picturesque location that would inspire a writer to dig deep within their soul and make solid gold prose fly out of their fingers. That was before I started writing.
I don’t have access to any picturesque haunts of solitude, but solitude is usually a factor when I come up with an idea. The majority of my ideas come during one of my regular bouts of insomnia, when my husband and dog are fast asleep. I will my body to sleep but my mind comes alive, firing synapses that would have been fair more useful during the day. If I have the presence of mind, I will make a note of the idea on my phone. But there are far too many ideas that are gone because I was convinced I would remember them in the morning. (I didn’t).
Personally, I get inspired by one of two things. Hearing other people tell stories of their life (then twisting it into a ‘what if?’ Scenario in my brain) or examining a well tread icon or story and thinking how I can revise it. My last inspiration came when my mother in law was telling me about marriage problems between friends of hers from several years ago. My last bit of writing was done when I examined the world of Winnie the Pooh and felt sorry for Eyeore. Seriously, that donkey is crying for help! Someone give him a hug, for crying out loud!
The only solitude I find these days is at 3 a.m, when my brain won’t shut up, and randomly when I’m on the toilet. That’s the glamorous truth behind some of your favorite stories, if tales from fellow writers are to be believed. Your favorite book? At least part of it was worked out in the mind of the author while they were waiting in line, or after they had too much spicy food. I thought of an entire fantasy world once while praying to God for help and promising to never eat dairy again.
The point of this post is that if you have an idea for a story, or a character, or just a snippet of interesting dialogue, don’t wait for the inspiration and the picturesque solitude. Worry it over in your brain like a hangnail whenever you can, and you’ll be surprised what your mind comes up with. No muse necessary.