The most common question I am asked about writing is, “When do you find the time?” It is unfortunate, and maybe ironic, that fiction writing (which I consider to be an escape from reality) is often interrupted by reality—by my other job or time commitments. But the truth is, I am “writing” much of the time when I am nowhere near a computer. I am observing and considering and creating all day. When I’m on my game, I have my trusty note pad or tape recorder with me to put the idea down—though most of the time the translation from my brain to the pad of paper loses something. Anyway, when I am really busy at my “other job” (January through May at least), this kind of loose “writing” is critical to me, because I have almost zero time in front of the laptop.
I also “write” whenever I am presented with art that I truly admire. Occasionally, I go to the symphony and listen to some of the world’s top musicians; same for the annual trip to the opera. Those things are not at the top of my list of favorite things to do, but they inspire me, if for no other reason than because these people are absolutely excellent at what they do. The more common example is exceptional prose. The inspiration comes from the brilliance of the artist. I find myself motivated to be as good at my art as they are at theirs. I often find myself reading prose and suddenly ideas are pouring out about things I want to put down on paper. And the thoughts usually have nothing to do with what I am reading—I’m not stealing their ideas or even touching upon the same topics I am reading. I just find a surge of adrenaline and then suddenly, the creative process is flowing.
I have to be alone when I’m writing—lost in my own world when among others, or more typically physically isolated from others. I don’t sit in a park or a Starbucks and observe others, or anything like that. I don’t consider the process interactive. I could see where others might disagree. I know a lot of my colleagues “workshop” their chapters and their ideas. I don’t really do that. Maybe I should. In other areas of writing—legal writing, for me—I do take into account the opinions of others when formulating my words. But not so with creative writing. It has to be inside my brain, churning and evolving and crystallizing without intrusion from others.
I would be very interested in hearing from others on this score. What inspires you to write? Do you find it helpful to bounce ideas off others, or simply isolate yourself in your twisted, dark inner worlds like me? I don’t pretend to have the answers, and I firmly believe it my responsibility as a writer to evolve. The longer I live, the more competing responsibilities I have, and the more efficient I have to be with my writing. So if anyone out there has some deep thoughts on this topic, I am all ears.