What is inspiration? Mine, anyway…

Remember… you asked the question…

My stories – They seem to fall into place. First the beginning… then the end. “Leap” is actually a better word…

Then… over the next few minutes… seconds or months… the rest claws its way out of my brain… my heart… knees… through my elbows and wrists to finally jump through my fingers onto this grimy laptop that has served me so well over the years.

Stories don’t need to be told… they demand to be told.

Creativity and inspiration is only to obey the demand.

I could no more hold a story back from pouring out onto this keyboard than I could hold the water back from destroying man’s real folly in Malibu (damn… I just got a flash of the beginning and end of that film in my head. Guess I will have to write it soon. Title..? “Seawall.” Maybe…)

In any event… some are asking where these stories come from. Where the inspiration, catalyst, ideas come from that become “Smothered” or “The Twenty-Nine” or “Backwater” or “Like Son” or….

Looks like a movie set to me. What happened here..?
Looks like a movie set to me. What happened here..?

The truth is I have no idea. They fall out of my fingers like panicked people from a burning building (Oops… there goes my childhood speaking again! My childhood voice seldom takes me to anything that resembles a puppy dog or a puffy cloud!)

When I write I stick to a wonderful adage someone once told me. Something that has served me well over the years and, I believe, will serve you well in your creative endeavors:

“Don’t get it right, get it written.”

Okay... Sometimes I get carried away...
Okay… Sometimes I get carried away…

There’s always time for that analytical editor to come in and repair the bumps and potholes created by the passion. I try not to edit anything until I have gotten it all out…

“There, there, Johnny… get it out… get it all out… that’s a good boy…”


So there they are… the voices inside my brain that insist they be heard.

I have to run now as there are 4 stories churning in there at the moment. 4 sets of totally different circumstances, realities, people and global perspectives that are currently demanding to see the light of day. If I don’t put elbow to finger, finger to keyboard there’s no telling what they will do in there!

Where are all the campers..? I can still hear them laughing...
Where are all the campers..? I can still hear them laughing…

All I know is that they have to come out somewhere… somehow. Like rust on a nicely painted and polished quarter panel… they will have their day in the sun!

What inspires you? How does it come out? Have you considered that question before? If not… it’s time you did…


25 thoughts on “What is inspiration? Mine, anyway…”

  1. I live in Shannon, MS. I have a handicap granddaughter so I can never make it to your events. I was wondering if you could come to Tupelo, Mississippi or Amory Mississippi. They have great festivals for stars to participate in. I’m one of your biggest fans. I don’t mind standing in line. I would definitely be there. That is if Emiley isn’t sick or at Lebonheur. I would really like an autographed photo of you.

  2. What inspires me… What doesn’t. When I read posts on Facebook from people who are all negative I wonder what happened to that person and start pondering, when I walk into a castle, or a fortress and see all these old things, all these personal things I want to know what happened there, what people had to go through, how their life was.
    Images just pop up in my head. Happened to me too when I saw your movie from your bamboo forrest. When I watch that I see Vietnam, I hear screaming, see soldiers wounded on the ground, locals who are trying to hide in there for the enemy, etc.

    Stories between people in a store, things I read, things I see on tv. There’s inspiration everywhere.

    And I’m like you. Just write, don’t edit. I can’t edit during writing. When I’m writing it’s like it just floods out of my fingers. I have a certain pace. That pace just comes naturally. I don’t decide the pace, the story decides the pace.
    That’s the reason that I still can’t write my stories in English straightaway, that I write them in Dutch first. Because my vocabulary still fails in some ways in English. And if I have to think what to write, or have to look it up it disturbs my pace and with that I often lose the thread of my story.

    Writing… Isn’t it something amazing and something magical?

  3. Great advise that I am forcing myself to take, for any medium. Get it out and be critical later. I always regret the stories I never start or finish but never the stories that make it to completion no matter how critical I am of them afterwards.

    I guess I needed a reminder on that.


  4. Thanks, John! YOU and my daughter inspired me to take an episode of the “Dukes” that I worked on when I younger (I made it when the writers had a strike on the show) and finally put it to paper. My daughter is combat medic in the U.S. Army. She is a huge ‘Knight Rider” fan (the 80’s one). She has some very original stories written. They are fantastic! Please, try to understand, I’m a mother of 6 children and we homeschool. There is not a lot of time to myself. (Television is such garbage these days!) I figured if my daughter and you could take time to write, that I should give it a shot. My story probably isn’t very good, but it’s my story and I have fun with it. It takes me back to a very special place that I love to visit with special people that I love to visit with, and besides I can be who I want.

  5. I too have stories in my head, that I’d love to put on paper, I too get carried away, and ideas come from nowhere.It’s like your walking somewhere and you have a moment , of I could see that scene in my head, happening there…right there ! You have a deep dark, serious , yet whimsical side of you John…the scripts I’ve had the pleasure to read, amazing : ) look forward to reading more !

  6. Hi John,

    I haven’t asked myself that question before. I do a little creative writing, draw, and paint and what inspires me to do it depends on…..Uuuhhh….. Good question! Sometimes necessity, I guess. I draw and paint gifts for friends and family. If there’s a holiday or birthday coming up I draw or paint as a gift for someone. I’ve never sold anything before. I do it for the pleasure of doing it for friends, family, and whoever else wants to see it, or myself because I enjoy it. Often though, the subject matter comes from what I see around me. Lately I’ve been doing landscapes from a beautiful place I took a photo of. Other times it’s a portrait of someone. Sometimes it’s something I see in a dream or a day dream.

    For writing it’s different. Usually it’s something I dreamt about. From dreams came an idea for a children’s book(that I would illustrate), and ideas for two science fiction novels. Once the ideas come I jot them down in a spiral notebook and list details and backgrounds, and that’s how I start. I almost always get stuck.

    I also do some creative writing through Yahoo Groups, which is a lot of fun. It’s like Group Creative Writing and I write for my characters when it’s my turn in the story-line we are working on. The ideas and dialog seem to flow pretty easily for it and I go directly to my laptop for that.

    Recently I had an idea for a police drama (with a sort of twisted sense of humor at times) TV series based in Louisiana about a Sheriff in a small town. Some of the stories would probably deal with some of the ghost stories and legends in the area. Supernatural stories but more real since so much of Louisiana is “Haunted”. Again, lots of details and background in my head for that one, but no idea how to write a script! Ah well. Don’t know where that one will go. Hey, if you are interested in that one John, run with it. Or let me know somehow. Just thought it couldn’t hurt to toss that one out there.

    Inspiration is different for everyone. All I know is I’m a study of human nature and not-so-human nature. That’s what works for me anyway….

    As always, thanks for posting, John

    Liz Landes

  7. John you have the right Idea. You inspired me. I still sing. I just finished a story based in the time of bonanza. I have one based off dukes of hazzard still going. and another going that has a mixture of Mash, bonanza, and dukes of hazzard. If you email me I promise you the first copy after I publish it electronically. I dont know how to attach it onto here though.

  8. Ya ,i understand that,My problem has always where to begin,So I most always do nothing,I started writing some things down and My Memory Started getting fuzzy so I stopped and just haven’t started up again.
    I know I need to finish but,I am wondering If I shouldn’t do Some Filler’s if U understand what I’m speaking of..I just Don’t know ,So I do Nothing.I know Not a good thing …

  9. Hello, John I met you in 2013 at the peach county reunion! In Byron, GA. I wanna change my body. But one problem …. November 12, 2011 I slipped and broke my femer in my hip! I can walk like its nothing. But since I got pins and screws in my right leg. What workout would you suggest in this case? But I wanna change I wanna B COME ripped like you! Thank You John I hope to hear a response soon!

    -Shane Varnadoe

  10. John – I am afraid that I will disappoint you because not much inspires me, except God. I don’t have a mind like yours. He blessed you with a very creative and imaginative mind and gave you the gift of acting! Her gives you the thoughts that form the movies you write and direct! You are truly blessed. Unfortunately, God did not bless me with a gift of a mind like yours. He gifted me with caring about people.

  11. Why does your ending questions discover our hidden side…? Do you what I mean?….My stories still don’t come out from my brain because I am afraid of feeling so exposed…..It is a like of sense of shame. I don’t like to think that every story or charater has something of the own writer….Writer is not always the good guy of the story….isn´t it?

  12. Found this in an old book, thought you might enjoy it,
    “Find your purpose and fling your life out into it; and the loftier your purpose is, the more sure you will be to make the world richer with every enrichment of yourself.” -Phillips Brooks

  13. You answered just about all of my pesky questions. Thanks! Now on to the “don’t get it right, get it written part”. My inspiration? Seeing life through kids’ eyes. This world is a pretty magical place when you’re the size of a yardstick.

  14. Wow Mr. Schneider, you don’t do any research on the story topic. My stories start with a dream. It’s like I’m in a movie playing the main character. When I wake up, I quickly write what I just dreamt so I don’t forget and then I go from there and start researching on the story topic to make sure that I have the facts straight on what is happening to the character. My only problem is with songs. I will dream of a beautiful song, but when I wake up, I have forgotten the lyrics by the time I grabbed my notebook. So you just wing it? Are you afraid that your story wouldn’t be believable?

  15. I am a blue belt in martial arts working on my brown belt. My left side is stronger than my right side so it is hard to coordinate both sides to make things work. I have seen my progress.My sensei is giving me more things to work on as i advanced. Even the people who have not seen me for a while have seen the improvement. My intent is not to be timid anymore.

  16. Thanks for sharing! Interesting, I wish I had the patience to actually write a story, All I write is a song every now and again, but its funny I had to share, sometimes i just get the first line out and write it then read it. I’ve been struck quite a few times at how it seems that someone else wrote the piece because when I read the finished piece I see something totally different than what I thought I was writing lol……… I so appreciate the blog and btw nice fuzzy face lol.

  17. I have to reply to this one as I am a writer myself — (songwriter.) It’s true in that I find I have to write — because it makes me feel better & it’s my idea of fun! My subjects are life and love and an occasional fun escape adventure song. I usually write about life as I feel it should be — because I could have had a happier childhood & early adulthood. But my love songs are very positive and mature — because 24 years ago I found the perfect man for me. Because you asked, John…

  18. I am sitting here pondering your question about what inspiration is. I have come to the conclusion that inspiration is like breathing. If you don’t let it out and draw it back in you will cease to exist. As a teacher, I am often expired by my students and other teachers. Just as I plant seeds of inspiration in them, they often plant seeds in me. If I don’t act on these and help it grow, I get very restless until I accomplish what is I am meant to.

  19. John you ask some loaded questions all while giving an insight into those voices inside your head. For starters, your writing, like many authors, is just that, those voices with a great story to tell. Then there is the level of creativity you let your mind take you to when typing it out. Often I have been told I need to write about my life and the experiences I have over the years, (somethings you just can’t make up, but have to live through to survive). Yes stories need to be told and with age comes great wisdom to write it (yep that’s jab at you being over 50 and I’m not yet {hehehe}) and we can write better over time.
    What inspires me is my work and love for children, often I have been told I should write about some of the things I do with special needs children and families or just my own personal experience alone. Finding the time is the challenge that stops me (being pulled in different directions between home life and work), along with my dyslexia, which is a roadblock more often then not. (any reports at work, my boss needs to proof, because although I know my job well and what is expected of me, I do not see my typos even when it is pointed out to me)
    So yes I have considered your questions before and although writing it would be great, I guess I am more of a hands on kind of person and let my work speak for itself when you see me in action or the response on a young child’s face or that of their parents when they reach a new milestone, when no one would believe they could ever make (at work my student workers refer to me as “the baby whisperer”)

  20. I so enjoyed your treatise on inspiration. I often wonder if you still feel that way about writing and composing music from your talented background. You mentioned different stories, but so far, as a group, we have only been treated to SMOTHERED. I know you have been writing screenplays for many years. Would you consider placing them out there for the rest of us to enjoy them? A book? Somewhere that we could purchase and enjoy them? Every screenplay will not make it to the silver screen, but you could provide your fans with what’s been going on in that marvelous mind of yours since your early teens and into your current years. I’ve only heard about SHADOW CHASERS, BACK NINE, and some others. I know your fans would enjoy your storehouse of words put to pen and ink or computer strokes. YOU inspire me, not just with your stories, but with your lifestyle, your insistence on health and nutritional aspects of daily life. Thank you for bestowing gifts upon us all.

  21. Hi John, You look better without a beard,better clean cut shave. I have twitter account but, don’t know how to tweet people. I enjoy reading your weekly emails story’s. You lift my spirits up. whenever feeling down, are depressed its better to open up, by talking or getting some help, Need more sounds for up coming movies, I hear Motorcycles at night, train whistle blowing about every two hours, Fire engine sirens going, police, sirens blarring,daycare kids, screaming, and playing, and of course our two Cats meowing, birds chirping, My youngest Son, a Big Fan, of yours loves The Dukes Of Hazard, Turns 15 on Wednesday 20, of August.
    Have A Great Week. Ty. John S.

  22. ” . . than I could try to hold down the moon.”
    That’s how you know the truth of the gift: the way it feels in the doing. You’re not just inspired, you’re inspiring, make us ask the hard questions, like what am I doing with my gift?

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