Friday, September 10, 2010


What's writing inspiration anyway?

Does a Christian writer's inspiration come from God? Is it holy? Or is it maybe just another way of saying, "Sit down and write and the words will come!"

I'm someone who's always believed in inspiration. When essays and research papers were assigned in school, I couldn't write the assignment until I felt inspired, sometimes not until the night before it was due. Know what I mean?

And I have always believed the Bible was the inspired Word of God. To me, the writers seemed like God's holy secretaries. Know what I mean?

But then one year in grad school, I took a class on teaching writing from a prof who, to my surprise, did not believe in inspiration of any kind, especially in inspiration by God. Next he declared he was an atheist. So for him, writing was a skill that anyone could achieve. According to him, anyone could write a bestseller if he or she just followed the rules. (He planned to do that someday, but I've yet to see his name on any list.)

The class wasn't large, maybe twenty or so of us, and discussion was a significant part of our grade. Not being the introvert writers are stereotyped to be, I was quick to share my beliefs with the class. I expected support from at least a few others. But no one else said anything, including two nuns in traditional garb who didn't even blink or nod.

After class that first day, I was sitting on the campus lawn eating my sandwich and apple lunch when the nuns joined me. They told me they agreed with me and appreciated my boldness, but they had a caution for me. Didn't I know about this prof? No, I didn't, but they did. And I guess the others in the class did, too. He had a reputation for never giving A grades to students who disagreed with him. And not believing in inspiration was one of his "things."

For the remainder of the class, I continued to be the only one who ever disagreed with him. And the inspiration issue came up again, even on the last of class when the prof pointedly asked me if I still believed in inspiration. "Of course," I said. "Would you like to hear my reasons one more time?" He declined.

I never saw him again. Universities are big places, full of tens of thousands of people. I'd like to say God intervened for me and I got an A. But I got a B+, my only grade in grad school not an A. But hey, you know what? I just now thought (inspiration?) – maybe God did intervene. That prof could have given me a C.

YEP! I'm a forever believer in inspiration, and have enjoyed many writing experiences that prove it to me. What about you?

Millie Samuelson

PS – Next Friday I'll join hundreds of other writers at a great place for writing inspiration – the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Indianapolis. Hope to meet you there!


  1. I am looking forward to seeing you also.

  2. I believe in inspiration. I can't tell you how many times an idea pops into my head and I have no clue how it got there. (Well yes, it's probably a God thing, but writers who aren't Christians have those moments, too.) Or I'm researching to flesh out an idea I already have, and I find something even better than what I was looking for. But I do have a caveat. If you are writing as a business, you can't wait for inspiration to come. If it isn't there, I sit down and write anyway, and somewhere along the way the inspiration drops in.

    See you in Indianapolis next week.

  3. Yes, yes, yes!!! MILLIE!!!
    I check this often to see when I'll find you!!!

    Sigh. I believe that God inspires me EVERY minute of my writing.

    Otherwise it wouldn't be on the page!!!

  4. Millie:
    First, your story is inspirational to me, because I was in the same situation in grad school at IU a few years ago. This literature prof's favorite soapbox was demeaning the Bible, because he claimed it had no significance as literature. Unfortunately, this prof gave me my the only C I ever earned in grad school, and I had to take the class over again--but with a different prof...of course.

    Second, I love inspiration, and it comes to me between 4 and 8 am every morning when I sit down to write. If it fails to arrive, I go ahead and write without it.

    For me, it's much like Moses when the people saw his face shining so bright they couldn't look at him.... Moses didn't know his face was shining.

    Sometimes when I think I'm inspired, the writing must be for me only, because it doesn't seem to resonate with others. Yet, other times I think my writing is poor that is when others seem to get something of value from it. I can't figure it I just keep working and doing my part and believe that He'll do His part. :)

  5. Save a hug for me at the conference, Millie! Loved your post. I'm a huge believer in that divine inspiration. One of the main questions non-writers always ask me is, "Where in the world do you get your ideas?" Well, I love it when they ask that question because I can tell them my writing in inspired by our gracious Heavenly Father. There's simply no other way to explain it. I can get ideas from the "world" by reading the newspaper, listening to the news, etc., but the Lord is definitely my co-author in everything I write. See you soon! Blessings, and thanks again for a great post!

  6. I liked getting to knowing more about you here Millie! You are one of the people God uses to inspire me! Have a great trip next week.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks for your comments, everyone (in case you drop back by)! And here's to Divine Inspiration for all of us this week of ACFW Conf, either there or wherever we are. . .
    And Kenny -- sounds like you have a followup HI blog to mine -- interesting that we've shared similar experiences in this realm -- plus unfortunate, considering this is a Christian country. . .