You Don’t Need to Understand the Source of Ideas

Allison Burney

You just need to run with them when they arise

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I finally understand why writers are always saying you can’t be a good writer unless you read a lot.

I’ve heard it so many times over the years that I’ve lost count. A wide range of known and unknown writers are all saying the same thing in interviews, articles, blog posts, books, and even writing courses: if you hope to succeed as a writer, you must read. A lot.

In fact, reading is almost as important as writing, they say. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write either, the saying goes.

And now that I’ve started reading regularly again, I can’t argue.

Just in the last week or so that I’ve been reading almost every day, I’ve come across dozens of ideas that I could turn into articles. If I really pay attention and take my time while I read, I could probably get inspiration for a new piece on just about every single page of a book, in one form or another.

I’m currently reading Vernon Howard’s The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power. (Don’t judge this one by its title — I promise it’s not as scary as it seems!) In my 10 minutes of reading this morning, I had at least two writing ideas, this article being one of them.

Words produce ideas, and ideas are the seeds you need to plant to produce other words. That’s why reading something has the power to induce creativity and produce something else. Sometimes the ideas I get are totally unrelated to the thing I’m reading, and that’s okay too.

I’m learning that there is no “right” way when it comes to creating. It is free, open, up for interpretation.

If a line in a book sparks my interest, it could be for a number of different reasons: it’s fascinating, and I’ve just learned something new; it reminds me of someone or something else; it rings true and has helped me understand something I didn’t quite “get” before; or it inspires or motivates me in some way.

I’ll often read a quote that gets me thinking, or gets me pumped up and excited to go out there and change the world!

Regardless of its effect, it stands out to me somehow. One line among many on a page, and thousands in a book; and yet, my attention zeroes in on that one in particular.

When I come across something I can use to create my own material, I know it. It jumps out at me on the page, almost like it’s highlighting itself in yellow right before my eyes! It’s really quite a fascinating process.

I don’t know how it works or why it works — I just know that it does!

There were a few passages from Vernon Howard’s book this morning that may make it into future articles, for the sheer impact they had on me.

Here’s an example:

How does the average man spend his day? He can be likened to a pendulum. Something favourable happens in his exterior life, perhaps a raise in pay, or a compliment. He feels good. But the next moment, strangely, the pay raise and the compliment become meaningless, so he swings over to depression. His entire day is spent wearily swinging from one state to its opposite — between confidence and fear, between cheeriness and gloom, calmness and nervousness, peace and anger, decision and indecision. This is followed by feelings of futility, of being trapped.

This passage really resonated with me. It was so clear, so relatable, and so true. It described perfectly how most of us seem to go through life, how our days typically unfold.

It also related to me personally, as I could see myself in the description Vernon Howard was giving. I found myself saying, “Yes! Yes! This has happened to me! This describes my life!”

I immediately thought of all the times my state of being has dramatically changed, almost in an instant, by something caused by external factors: someone looked at me the “wrong” way, or didn’t smile back. Someone said something that sounded cold or uncaring. Someone walked away while I was still talking. I won something, or had a gift given to me.

Whether positive or negative, the event still changed my being rapidly. It affected me more than I wanted to let on in the moment. It either made me feel like I’d been hit by a Mack truck, mowed over and shattered into a million tiny pieces, or it made me ecstatic with joy and happiness.

Either way, it made me lose my balance temporarily, swaying heavily one way or the other, dangling dangerously out over the edge of the abyss.

For whatever reason, that one passage on that one page of that one book spoke to me, and I decided to listen.

I decided to invite it in and let it tell me everything. Suddenly, my mind showed me everyday examples of how I could relate to what Howard was describing.

If we pay attention, this process may happen dozens or even hundreds of times in a day!

The universe is constantly serving up inspiration on a silver platter.

The question is: are we going to eat?

Photo by Clever Visuals on Unsplash

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Writer & proofreader. I love travel, reading, coffee, and exploring nature. On a mission to keep learning, growing, and enjoying this adventure we call life.

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