Many many women attend the annual JWWS conference for inspiration. And inspiration is one of those words that mean different things to different people. So…
What inspires you to write?
We asked for more specifics, in order to share the inspiration with all of you, and we received your heartfelt responses.
Interestingly, what may inspire creativity on one person stifles creativity in another, and what works at one time may not work at another time… as you may have experienced yourself!
Here is the question we asked, and your own personal methods for tapping into inspiration. Feel free to share, and join in with your own inspiration by adding a comment below or emailing info @ thejwws.com.
Where do you get your writing inspiration? What moves you to write? And alternatively, what situations make it difficult for you to find your inspiration?
My personal source for writing is anything that looks interesting with which I meet up and that makes me think people would like to read about it.
However, what puts a damper on these ideas that crop up all the time, is not getting positive response or any response from magazine editors or newspapers to whom I send the subject.
Sometimes I simply write up a subject, send it in and, lo and behold, it gets printed. But that’s a risk that I’m not always willing to take, and if it’s something that requires research, I don’t usually have the time to invest much as I would like to delve in it.
First I want to quote Leah Kotkes (G-d bless her!!): “read a “kapitol” Tehilim”. She’s so right (write!) – it’s bringing Hashem directly into our writing, which is the ultimate inspiration. I do have to say that Hashem sometimes just “makes” me write: it could be on a bus or in a shiur, or anywhere, in any surrounding.
However, if I just want to write, I find the best inspiration is nature (since I’m writing a lot more poetry lately), or the Parsha (and Haftarah). All these are in and of themselves “poetic”, so I feel free to be Midrashic, so to speak, and write.
This past year I was inspired to write about certain Chassidic concepts, from a shiur last year and the year before. So I asked permission from the Rav, and sat in on another class of his, with the intent to write poetry…not notes on the shiur. B”H, some amazing poems came out of this, and the Rav and Rabbanit like them as well.
I often get my inspiration to write from being in minus at the bank. What makes it difficult is not wanting to say lashon ha-ra, and not wanting to say anything that would annoy my family.
So, sometimes I use a pen name.
I get my writing inspiration from walking through the Jewish Quarter, where I live, from going to the sunrise minyanim at the Kotel, from inspiring shiurim on Tanach.
My writing inspiration seems to come mostly from memories of various experiences; sometimes I’ll write about them to share what I’ve learned or to express a particular perspective on an issue, or even to raise a question in the readers’ minds about it.
The factor that stifles creativity for me is a “forced writing” session, such as many writing group leaders apparently think they must give their attendees / hopeful writers. Though I understand the idea behind this, it nevertheless doesn’t work for me (maybe because I feel pressured as I watch everyone else scribbling away immediately!). This is why I don’t register for classes where the instructor requires such an exercise. From what I hear, this is not the best way to give adequate feedback to each participant either, and as a teacher, that bothers me.
Inspiration comes from being part of a writing group. If I have to produce something for the group I do it. When I’m not part of a group I write a lot less, sometimes not at all.
Workshops and their leaders like Shifra Devora Witt and Sherri Mandell in whose workshops I have participated, and still participate, are wonderful because both Shifra and Sherri are so positive and encourage to keep writing. Their feedback, as well as suggestions and feedback from other members of the group are constructive and helpful, but most of all they inspire to write. Sherri also teaches, it’s not just going over our work, she sends out readings of famous authors that keeps the group focused on the writers craft.
I’ve always loved writing but lacked much needed time, and, more specifically, the time to observe and reflect to write a good story. Now that I am free to do so, at the mature age of 75, I write a lot about my past experiences (inc. the Holocaust) and use part or whole truths as a kernel to embellish and enliven my short stories.
I write purely for pleasure, – prose and some poetry – not for publication. I guess I have an urge to write because I find writing liberating, almost therapeutic!
For me, inspiration comes from my life. Things I see, observe – people, beautiful natural sights, memories, ideas that pop into my head.
I’m motivated to write either when an idea becomes well formed in my head, or, as I am now doing, writing the book that will one day become my memoirs. That was a decision, and I have a fixed time to work on it.
Since I don’t have to write for any deadlines, lack of inspiration is not an issue!
What moves me to write?
There’s no one answer to that. Writing has always been a way for me to explore my creativity, to exorcise ghosts, to express my emotions, to break rules safely.
The trigger could be a feeling of malaise, of a problem that needs to be solved, perhaps an overheard remark or a witnessed incident, sometimes even a specific “writing cue.” (Several stories I had published came from innocuous one phrase cues we were given in my writing group–Pri Chadash, run by Ruth Fogelman and Judy Caspi at the OU Center–such as “and then through the silence” or”on Tu b’Av…”)
One thing that has helped my creativity is setting up a regular practice of writing. Every morning I sit down to write for a minimum of 1/2 hour. I get up, dress, daven, eat breakfast, and then write. EVERY day (5 days a week). Often, I wake up in the morning with a sentence or a mental picture of what I want to write about that day. The routine itself acts as a trigger. Sometimes, I sit down, thinking I have nothing specific to write about, and 723 words later stand up again thinking, “where did all THAT come from?”
Later in the day, I can fill in gaps, continue, or edit, but in a half hour daily, I can get a lot written.