This post was originally published on WriterAmandaMcDonald blog on January 28th, 2011.
I am a firm believer that Religion and Inspiration come hand in hand.
It is not unusual to see that people use their own faiths, or perhaps
those of others, for writing prompts, story ideas and even the starting
point of something else.
Everyone has a system of
beliefs; it is these moral, ethical and behavioural guidelines that one
has for yourself that tends to speak to others as well. The neat thing
is that as a reader I don't have to agree with you or be of the same
system of beliefs in order to enjoy your writing. Beliefs and religion
can also lead to truly unique story ideas: think in the fantasy genre.
Where did vampires, werewolves and the like of grotesque beings come
from if it wasn't from a fear of following the commands of your
Now, I am not just saying look
at the religious material for story inspiration, but traditions too. I
learned, in a French Catholic Home, that if I wanted to light a candle
while I prayed it would probably benefit me because it would keep my
eyes focused and my mind sharp because nothing else would distract me.
Staring at the flame was a reminder of how Christ was a light for the
world... and how we were called to do the same.
are people who would disagree with me about whether or not religion is
inspiring or whether it's a hindrance. Chris Walker from chriswalkeronline.com made a blog this summer (July '10) called God, Gods, Religion and Inspiration Don't Mix Easily. As if the title wasn't direct enough, he shares a story that could be used for either side of the argument.
Here's the story: (grammar errors are not my own.)
there was a perfect mirror and it really did reflect the perfection of
the whole of life. Everybody could see and that's called inspiration.
And one day, someone tried to run off with that mirror to control what
people could see and they accidental broke it. Twelve pieces of the
mirror lay on the ground and twelve people ran off saying, 'I have the
mirror.' Twelve religions were born, but nobody had the whole mirror."
later goes on to say that Spirituality is how one fits the whole mirror
together, and so forth. I would like to argue that spirituality is
religion skewed for relativity; but I digress with that direction.
see, our religions may not be the whole of truth but to every one of
them I agree holds some truth. Perhaps it is this thought that can
So here's a prompt based on that: What
piece of the mirror does your faith hold that leads to truth? Now take
it and place it in the context of a story... build a character who
lacks those traits. For other prompts, try going to beliefnet.com
and looking up a religion you don't know a lot about... or perhaps try
to find one you don't know a lot about...
I now continue with the original intent: religion as a source of inspiration.
infamous "Books for Dummies" series can be found online. Religious
books for dummies can be found under the title: Religion &
Inspiration. It is of note that it is not, inspirational... but rather
Even the Christian faith is considered
"inspired." The books of the bible (all 66 if you're protestant, and
all 73 if you're Catholic) are considered inspired. Christian
Apologetics & Research Ministry, CARM for short, says that the
books of the bible were written by men "inspired" by the Holy Spirit, or
God. Even the bible itself uses the idea of inspiration to quote its
authority. 2 Timothy, 3:16 "All scripture is inspired by God."
Find yourself ever day dreaming about a neat theory? Perhaps it's a
short story waiting for you to discover it. If you're questioning
religion, perhaps it's a story about discovery or a memoir you have
budding within you.
In my own case, using the
foundations that were laid by my childhood faith and looking at other
religions with that perception often leads to a whole calamity of ideas
all battling to get their way out onto paper...