The Magic of the First Creative Inkling

Lately, I'm so excited that my book, The Meaning Method: Transform Writer's Block into Creative Epiphanies is available for pre-order! I have such fond memories of the moment I got the first inkling. I still remember the taste of the mountain air as I walked to catch the bus to work. I had a question in my head:

"What are the five steps you'd give someone if they asked you how to write a book?"


Suddenly, five chapters flashed into my mind with such force that I could no longer wait to arrive at the bus stop bench to write them down. Instead I pulled my notebook out of my purse mid-step, balanced it on my leg and wrote:

1. Ask Big Questions

2. Develop Conflict

3. Build Community

4. Epiphany

5. Catharsis

Now, the funniest thing about my scribbling was that at the moment was that I had no idea why I wrote the words, "Epiphany" and "Catharsis." Beyond their dictionary definitions, they didn't have any real significance for me. But I jotted down those words and kept walking. 

A few days later I was sitting down at breakfast and started conversing in my head with a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic. This imaginary conversation had some real intensity and momentum to it. Suddenly I had the urge to open a file on my computer, name it "Conclusion" and save the Elizabeth Gilbert quote there.

I spent a few more months collecting little paragraphs before I purposely organized them into a manuscript. Over a year later when I sat down to write the final parts titled "Epiphany" and "Catharsis," it blew my mind that I'd been given those keys at the very beginning of the journey, before I understood their significance. And that Elizabeth Gilbert quote, it actually became a part of the conclusion as well:

Elizabeth Gilbert makes a really good point about this in her book, Big Magic. Art predates agriculture by around 30,000 years. Thus, Gilbert playfully concludes that for our early ancestors “. . . it was way more important to make attractive superfluous items than it was to learn how to regularly feed ourselves.”

Isn’t that awesome? But I want to examine this further.

The hidden key I see here is in the word “superfluous.” Perhaps the fact that art is seemingly superfluous is exactly where its true significance has been hiding all these 40,000 years. All of our own superfluous creativity is of course the hidden smile of the creator that’s been accompanying us along the human journey.

The one thing that connected all the little miracles that became the book was the fact that I jotted them down immediately. It was the "yes" the Universe was waiting to hear. In my case, those five chapters were not only the beginning of a book, but a thriving business that's come into existence.

If you're writing a book, I'd love to hear about your first inkling! It would be so much fun to "scap book" a collection of those moments that we can come back to again and again.