I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When the Voices Awaken

4:18 a.m.

Most people are asleep at that hour, unless they're third-shifters or my brother-in-law. My alarm wasn't set to go off for another hour and forty-two minutes. Too early to get up, so I pulled the sheet to my chin and rolled over to catch a few more minutes of sleep.

Uh, right...

As soon as my eyelids cracked to glance at the time, the voices in my head yawned and stretched and started their incessant chattering. They elbowed and pushed to be at the front of my consciousness. So while the roosters were still asleep, I lay in bed and listened to the house noises, Hubby's breathing, and my characters as they lounged in the creative corner of my brain to dissect a current plotting problem. By 5 a.m., I wasn't going back to sleep, so I slid out of bed and headed for my Mac to transcribe what played out in my head.

Like most of my writing friends, we talk to the voices in our heads. This career choice may excuse us from taking a walk with the men in white coats, but it does cause us to be on the receiving end of some pretty weird looks.

Case in point ... a while back, I had coffee (Chai for me) with three friends. I mentioned my current novel and the voices in my head. You would've thought I had just told them I was quitting my job to take up basket weaving in Papua New Guinea. They teased me good-naturally, but continue to support my heart's desire.

Non-writers are like Muggles--they don't "get it." I think Brandilyn Collins calls them "Normals."

I don't have Harry Potter’s magical abilities, but I can create a story idea from a headline, a snippet of a song, or even a scent that evokes a memory. Writers have a tendency to "what if" a situation in order to take an idea and spin it into a story.

Most people worry if they start hearing voices. I worry if I don't because that means my muse has gone AWOL.

Your Turn: Have you been awoken by the voices? Do you muzzle them and roll over to go to sleep? Have you been surprised by what they wanted to tell you? What inspires you to create a story?

Lisa Jordan


  1. Back in the days when I wrote nonfiction, I thought all you "I hear voices--and I listen to them" types were C-R-A-Z-Y.
    Now I hear the voices, invite them in for tea, and take notes while they talk.
    I've even had to tell two fictional characters to stop talking at the same time!
    And yes, I play the "what if?" game.
    What inspires me to create a story? Usually it's a theme of some sort ... I start with a question that I've pondered like: Do opposites attract or combust? And then I let my characters answer it.

  2. Yes, I play the "what if...?" game too. It seems I can't even listen to a prayer request without my mind beginning a fictional spin. That person is really hurting. If I had a character in that situation, how could I bring hope to my story world? And my thoughts gallop on.

    Great post, Lisa. Sorry you had to suffer insomnia to think of it.

  3. Enjoyed your post, Lisa. My voices usually keep me fromj falling asleep when I lay my head on my pillow. I'm learning to get up and take notes when they start talking because I know I won't remember what they said come morning. At times I have been surprised by what they've told me. :)

    I've had story ideas come from something a friend told me (big changes in her life). One idea also came when I was driving behind a vehicle. The bumper sticker, truck, and license frame seemed incongruous with each other, and I began asking what kind of person would have all these elements in her life? I'm looking forward to writing that story some day. :)

  4. My voices make the most sense at 5 o'clock in the morning. That's the time of day that everything I've been puzzling over comes into focus. Wish I could bottle that time of day for later. lol
    Great post, Lisa.

  5. Beth, I can just picture you putting characters in a time out and making them wait their turns to talk. :D Don't you just love our job?

  6. Roxanne, I don't think I've had a story idea from a prayer request, but I have gotten them from praises. Since we have such hope in Him, it's natural for us to want it for our readers.

  7. Jeanne, I love where you get your story ideas. I keep a notebook by my bed so I can write down ideas as soon as I have them. Otherwise, I forget them too.

  8. Pat, I so hear you!! My best thinking time is first thing in the morning or at night when my head hits the pillow. I wish I could have that same peace all day long when I'm pondering plot. You'd make a fortune if you bottled it.

  9. I keep a notebook on my nightstand also, Lisa. Its seems my muse takes amusement by tapping me on the forehead around 2 a.m.;)

  10. Just reading this post gave me an idea for a story! They can crop up anywhere. :)

    By the way, being the Harry Potter nut that I am, I love that you made the reference in your post. :D

    Anyway, story ideas for me can come randomly, and I'm usually inspired by an idea - a what if - and rarely by people. The characters tend to come out in the idea I've conjured up.