First in Category-Young Adult Fantasy

First in Category-Young Adult Fantasy
Dante Rossetti Award

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Writer on Fire

Sometimes when writing a particular scene I've had the experience that all of a sudden the words poured out of me, a psychic might say something like “you’re channeling a guide/mentor, or the Akashic Records”. Or, perhaps I could best describe it as a deeply meditative state, where everything your mind’s eye sees is brilliantly vivid and real. After this storm of writing passes, you lapse back, exhilarated and amazed, and realize that what you’ve written is some of your best yet.

It’s something of a “mountain top” experience, though. Not something you can deliberately coax it into being.  You may attempt to seduce it, but it comes only when it wills.  I was curious whether other writers shared this phenomenon; so I posed this question to other writers in the blogasphere:

...If this is something you've experienced, please tell me about it; was it after hours of plodding work, or did it happen as soon as you set fingers to keyboard. What was your frame of mind? Did something put you in that frame of mind, i.e.: were you listening to music? Reading some other writer’s work and suddenly…”

The answers flew in, and yes whether in a meditative state such as I’ve experienced, or from the sub-conscious world of dreams, writers agree that from there, they’ve draw their best inspirations. Here’s some samplings of the responses I’ve had:

 “I’ve experienced the same feeling of writing as if someone is moving my fingers...

 “My characters come to life in my dreams. Sometimes I wake up pretty tired but I get some of my best scenes that way. It’s almost like they are writing the story and I just type it.”

This aspect of our characters taking the bit between their teeth and running with it seems to be a common thread in many responses.

 “…sometimes when I’m writing, my character will reveal something about him/herself that I didn’t know.”

Or how about this comment, “My characters won’t leave me alone—and usually at two o’clock in the morning! I can’t shut them up until I write them.”

“…an out of body experience. I’m the vessel, for whatever is being said. It’s the best high out there.”

Perhaps as a reader of books you have read some in which you’ve become totally immersed in the novel’s world in all its detail: you taste the food, smell the air and live in the skin of the characters—you are moved by their grief, shaken by their terrors, and can shed tears of joy for their happiness. When the book closes, you know that your life has been enriched. That book was written by a writer on fire



  1. Great post! Love all the different variations of how writers see the words flow. :-)

  2. I believe that writing, painting, dancing, drawing, are all a form of art. This comment..“My characters won’t leave me alone—and usually at two o’clock in the morning! I can’t shut them up until I write them.” I completely agree with! I can't sleep at night until I get my idea/image down on paper...which, of course means I'm up all night :)

  3. Great post! I love when that happens, especially when characters reveal things I didn't know.

  4. Hey you guys! You've been there, obviously...and have you ever noticed...what is it about being in the shower and suddenly a great piece of dialogue or trickle of thought that just has to be written occurs! I'm convinced this is a universal phenomena...why else have people invented whiteboards for the shower???

  5. I'm so glad you've collected some of these experiences. It's this state that makes me always want to continue writing, despite the difficulties it poses sometimes in life. I've tried to find scientific explanations of what happens in a writer's (or artist's) brain, but haven't come up with anything. But I think that's why we become addicted sometimes. :) I love your terminology for it: "writer on fire." I hope that phrase gets around!