Sunday, January 18, 2015

Replacing My Ideas

I’d like to preface this post by saying that although I had a certain idea on which I wanted to write, I suddenly feel like this is what I need to write about instead. Fittingly enough, this is the concept that this post is about.

Picture from

When I write, at times I know almost exactly what I want to say, and the writing flows through me effortlessly. More commonly, I have to struggle, reflect, revise, doubt myself, and revise some more before I arrive at the finished product.

And then there are times that I have what I think is a great idea, and this idea is then subverted by some other idea that does not immediately make sense to me. Or, perhaps it is better to say, my idea is transcended by a new one.

While riding through Montana two weeks ago, on my way back to BYU, I experienced a moment like that. I was writing something of little consequence; I was writing about some recently past events, when I sudden impulse sparked in my mind. Normally that is called distraction, and thus normally it would not have been significant. But this impulse was that I needed to write something I’d been struggling to complete for months.

So I put down my pen and set my laptop to work on a project I'd left unfinished for too long. I completed it that day, shared it with the intended audience one day later, and received feedback almost instantaneously. From what I heard, apparently I’d struck a chord – with this idea that I hadn’t intended to befall me in the first place.

Elizabeth Giles, the author of Eat, Pray, Love once said that creative genius has long been considered "spiritual," and more of a collaborative process with the unseen than a process of internal inspiration -- or that if it isn't, it's helpful to your ego and psyche to consider it as such. While I leave that to the reader to make his or her own conclusion on that matter, having my ideas replaced on a drive in Montana has given me cause to believe it.

Examples of spiritual-literary experiences:
The first poem that I wrote voluntarily – as opposed to being assigned to it – and realizing how healing poetry can be
Beginning to use Facebook Notes and learning of the power of writing
Realizing that I actually appreciated the chance to write in and read over my journals, as opposed to my parents forcing me to do it
Being struck with immediate inspiration to write a recent composition, “Being a Gerged”
Reading the play Othello and being surprised at how strongly these characters touched me and taught me

1 comment:

  1. I like the simplicity of this experience. I especially like--as you pointed out--that the idea to work on something else could often be called a distraction, but it was actually a worthy impulse. Sorting which ideas are in fact mere distractions and which are spiritual is an ongoing process for me.

    It's interesting that you mentioned the healing power of poetry in your bullet lists. A lot of posts for this prompt mention the healing power of poetry in one way or another. I think we could probably talk about that all day.