Awakening Creativity


One of the enduring writers of the early 20th century, LM Montgomery is perhaps most well known for her stories about Anne of Green Gables, which have been adapted into films. Yet with her protagonist Emily (a lass with three novels of her own), she best captured the heart of a writer.

An imaginative child, Emily has a fondness for stories in all forms, but especially the ones she weaves herself. She’s appreciative of beauty in all forms, and that which she perceives in the world around her rouses her creativity. Her experience of “the flash” is one I think many writers will identify with:

“It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and her hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside–but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was as if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond–only a glimpse–and heard a note of unearthly music.

This moment came rarely–went swiftly, leaving her breathless with the inexpressible delight of it. She could never recall it—never summon it—never pretend it; but the wonder of it stayed with her for days. It never came twice with the same thing. Tonight the dark boughs against that far-off sky had given it. It had come with a high, wild note of wind in the night, with a shadow wave over a ripe field, with a greybird lighting on her window-sill in a storm, with the singing of “holy, holy, holy” in church, with a glimpse of the kitchen fire when she had come home on a dark autumn night, with the spirit-like blue of ice-palms on a twilit pane, with a felicitous new word when she was writing down a “description” of something. And always when the flash came to her Emily felt that life as a wonderful, mysterious thing of persistent beauty.”

May we always perceive the wonder of the world beyond and seek to capture it in our writings.

What gives you a “flash” of inspiration?

Image credit: Yago Veith


  • Maria Tatham
    November 4, 2011 - 8:53 am · Reply

    Sarah, this insight or flash or perception of another wonderful world beyond this comes in different ways, but especially when reading imaginative fiction. Sometimes too, when someone is speaking to me, a little flash is triggered in my mind. Their words, or they themselves, have touched some hidden wellspring of joy. This always reminds me that there’s so much MORE than we ordinarily perceive…

    • Sarah Sawyer
      November 4, 2011 - 12:00 pm · Reply

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Maria! I totally agree, a compelling story does give a flash of inspiration, a glimpse of insight beyond the world around us. I love your description of touching “a hidden wellspring of joy.” That’s just what it feels like. 🙂

  • Jamie T
    November 4, 2011 - 12:45 pm · Reply

    Flashes of inspiration for me can be, like Maria said, reading a good story. I also find inspiration is well-written music. Music can really, really help with inspiration in moods and thought processes! Sometimes I’ve come across music that brings scenes from my different books vividly alive and I can almost see what happens, like on a movie screen. After a ‘revelation’ like that, it’s much easier to write out those scenes. Some music helps me develop a difficult scene or can inspire a new original scene that wasn’t planned at all!


    • Sarah Sawyer
      November 7, 2011 - 11:42 am · Reply

      Jamie and Maria, music inspires me as well. Something about the emotion conveyed in a powerful piece of music not only gives a glimpse of the world beyond, but it also stirs the desire to write…at least for me. I want to somehow capture what I’m feeling on the page, though I know it will likely be a frail reflection. 🙂

      So I can identify with your sense of revelation, Jamie. It’s such a good feeling when the writing begins to flow.

  • Patrick J. Moore
    November 4, 2011 - 11:17 pm · Reply

    Sunrises, sunsets, light through trees, majestic mountains, flowering weeds, twinkling eyes, expressive faces, dragonflies, wide open spaces, storms with their winds, streetlight in rain, catching what stirs up emotions in me.

    Most anything can give me a flash of inspiration, as long as I take the time to pay attention. Catching these glimpses of the better beyond, I can’t keep my wonderings from wandering there.

    • Sarah Sawyer
      November 7, 2011 - 1:16 pm · Reply

      Well expressed, Patrick. God has infused the world around us with great beauty, and it attests to wondrous truths. Sometimes that sense of a “flash” is subtle, requiring attention, sometimes it’s so consuming that I have no choice but to soak it in. Either way, I find inspiration.

      And it’s interesting you would speak of the wanderings of your wonderings, because wondering/curiosity and inspiration happen to be the topic of today’s post. I think they’re closely linked. 🙂

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller
    November 5, 2011 - 9:44 pm · Reply

    This reminds me of Lewis’s Surprised by Joy.

    Mountains, especially above timberline give me the glimpse of the enchanted. It is so beautiful it hurts.

    Like Patrick, though, lots of other things make me aware of God’s grandeur — sunsets, the ocean, waterfalls, fall leaves, roses with dew drops dotting the velvet petals, too many to list.

    But inspiration? I probably get more story ideas when I’m reading Scripture.


    • Sarah Sawyer
      November 7, 2011 - 1:16 pm · Reply

      Becky, I’ve read many of CS Lewis’s books, but not Surprised by Joy. I’m glad you mentioned it, because now I’m adding it to my wish list. 🙂

      It’s amazing how the strongest beauties are almost painful, especially those that give a glimpse into the eternal…almost as if the goodness itself overwhelms. Speaking of CS Lewis, he said in description of Lord of the Rings, “here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron.” Since I read it, this phrase stuck with me as an apt description of the sensation sometimes experienced when we glimpse something “beyond.”

      For me experiencing the beauty and wonder of God often inspires me to write, whether it comes in reading Scripture, in times of prayer, or enjoying the beauties He’s formed in creation.

  • Rebecca LuElla Miller
    November 7, 2011 - 3:41 pm · Reply

    Surprised by Joy is his spiritual autobiography. It’s well worth reading. Had a big impact on me when I was younger, though I didn’t understand a lot of it. I re-read it a few years ago and appreciated more because I now understood his views about myth. He describes the glory of the glimpse that myths gave him and the desire to capture that glory, to hold on. That’s the pain, I think — the inability to stop the glory from fading or to enter it completely. It’s a sweet, satisfying longing — the ultimate contradiction. But it was that glimpse of joy and the inability to hold it that showed Lewis there had to be something behind it all.

    Ah, well, just read it for yourself. I’m making a hash of explaining it. 🙄


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