I know I’m not the only one who adores the classic Lindsey Lohan vehicle, “Mean Girls.” My favorite moment took place as Ms. Lohan finally got her crush alone in her bedroom. As her voice-over so eloquently described, she couldn’t resist the urge to bash on her,”frenemy.” She was about to have word-vomit.
I too suffer from the incurable condition of word-vomit. But I also like to refer to it as inspiration in polite conversation. It happens in waves. It happens dramatically, and it sends you running out of bed in the middle of the night.
In my first post-college job, I was asked to aid in writing product descriptions to lure prospective accounts into signing on with us. I was over the moon. My first REAL writing challenge! The world was my oyster and I was about to shoot that little bastard.
And I promptly choked on that oyster as my boss handed back my lovely description with a pained, “It’s fine. But it’s not us.”
My little brain reeled. “Wait, what? That was a perfect description! I’d sign the contract after reading that.” Lady was clearly just not getting it. Okay. I wasn’t getting it. What wasn’t I getting? US. I wasn’t getting the company. The brand. The voice we use to form an emotional bond, not push a product.
So I stepped back. Looked around me at all the products. Looked at the girls sitting next to me, and the heart they poured into their work, and the feeling that went into their creations. I closed my eyes, took a breath, and (I’m not kidding here) imagined quietly throwing up those emotions. Gross. Yes. My fingers hit the keys at the same moment.
My boss-lady smiled and nodded at the next draft. And handed me two more projects.
I have no idea where inspiration comes from. I have not a clue how other people find it. But mine is, well, like a sickness. I have to gorge myself on the subject, and then take a mental gut-punch to bring it back up, half-digested into words. This rule applies not just to writing that needs to take on the tone of a company, or project. I have to do it just to write as myself.
I skirt around the computer. Watch, “Animal Cops.” Walk the dog. Decide laundry needs attending. Then, finally, I hit the iPod. I blast something perfectly me. I have a solo dance party. Get the feeling of my own brain. I get full on myself. Then it happens.