By Andrea Merrell
I’ve heard people say, “I write because I can’t not write.” Maybe not the best way to say it, but you get the point. We write because that’s what we do. It’s who we are. It’s in our DNA. Sometimes ideas tumble so fast we can hardly keep up. Fingers fly across the keyboard as words pour out of our heart.
But what about those times when the well seems stopped up and the words don’t flow? What happens when we sit at the computer with our fingers poised—waiting for divine inspiration to strike—but nothing happens?
That’s when we dig deeper and allow our relationships and experiences to bring new vitality to our stories. Inspiration is all around us; all we have to do is be alert.
I love it when God sparks an idea in my devotional reading or when I’m absorbed in a novel by one of my favorite Southern authors. Sometimes I get ideas from a good movie or from listening to my five noisy granddaughters as they interact with each other. Some people get inspiration from nature, sunsets, and cuddly pets. If all else fails, a brisk walk is sure to clear the cobwebs and get those creative juices circulating.
Inspiration comes in many different forms and can happen when we least expect it, but allow me to offer three surefire sources: passion, knowledge, and pain.
What are you passionate about? What brings joy to your heart and tears to your eyes? What moves you with compassion? Find what drives you, and channel that passion into your writing. You’ll be amazed at the depth of your prose.
Draw from your training and expertise. Infuse your knowledge into your writing so others can benefit. Then stretch outside your comfort zone. Do some research and talk to professionals who can help you write about things that interest you.
To me, one of the most important resources is pain. Every one of us has faced and conquered difficult situations and circumstances. Our victories can bring encouragement to our readers. When I wrote Praying for the Prodigal, it came as the result of five long years of dealing with rebellious and destructive behavior from both of my children. Even though re-living many of the events was painful, tremendous healing took place as I told my story. Now, my story is bringing hope to others dealing with a prodigal. In God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted.
Your situation might be caring for an elderly parent. Maybe you’re struggling with weight loss, chronic illness, divorce, or even the death of a loved one. Turn those struggles into inspiration.
I believe our greatest words can come from our greatest pain. I also believe the more open, honest, and transparent we are with our readers, the more they can relate and the more impact our words will have on them. When our words are relevant and ring with truth, we have the ability to touch a hurting soul with encouragement and hope.
Andrea Merrell is Associate Editor for Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a freelance editor and has taught workshops at various writers’ conferences, including: Writers Advance Boot Camp, KCWC, and the CLASS Christian Writers’ Conference. Andrea is the author of Murder of a Manuscript and Praying for the Prodigal. She has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues. For more information, visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com. You may also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.