I’ve got a deadline. And I’ve been staring on and off at a blank Word document. Sadly, the topic doesn’t appear magically. Whenever I don’t really know yet what to write about, I tend to do all kinds of things to keep myself busy – anything to stall for extra time.
I log on the Internet and begin to search for inspiration. There’s an awful lot of information out there, which is fascinating – but without knowing what to look for, it’s not very helpful. So after an hour or so I play a simple game. And that takes the rest of my afternoon. I suppose the Internet is not the place for me to spend time looking for inspiration.
I reopen Word. The page is still awfully white. I don’t really feel like sitting behind my computer anymore. I leave my laptop open and the document on the taskbar – readily available for the moment an idea strikes.
Instead, I turn my attention to my bookcases for inspiration. I once had the intention to keep them organized and to have only books on them, but I can’t say I managed either. Working my way through the shelves, I painfully have to conclude that I really have been slacking on my Irish. There are at least two Irish novels I know are worth reading, but they need to be translated first. The second thing I’ve discovered is that I own two copies of the same book in two different editions.
Unfortunately, I’m still not inspired.
I take out Crystal’s The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language and leafing through it. I had to buy this book for my first year at university – I can’t even remember for what course – but I never actually opened it during my five years there. It’s one of those books that look very impressive sitting on the shelf, just like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (this one I did read.)
A picture of the Mona Lisa makes me stop leafing through. In the text next to it I catch the words lexical zombies and I’m intrigued, so I read the sentences to understand what zombies have to do with language:
“[Clichés] have become trite, hackneyed expressions. And yet they survive, in a kind of living death, because people continue to use them, despite complaints and criticisms. They are, in effect, lexical zombies.” [Crystal, p.186]
The words ‘lexical’ and ‘zombies’ trigger several things. Firstly, I find the topic I want to write about for my blog. And secondly, the entry triggers the idea to use clichés in a new way, but I’ll leave that for another blog. And finally, it made me curious how other people find their inspiration.
So how and where do you find your inspiration? Or if you like, what has been the strangest way in which you found inspiration?