Friday, June 13, 2014

Inspiration [ĭn′ spǝ-rā′ shǝn] n. is Everywhere ~By Suzy Leopold

What inspires you to write?  Where do you find inspiration when writing for children?  How do you seek out ideas for inspiration to write children’s literature?

The American Heritage dic•tion•ar•y defines the word inspiration: [ĭn′ spǝ-rāshǝn] n.  1.  Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity. 
Inspiration is everywhere.  As a writer, you can find ideas that stimulate thoughts and ideas in common everyday events, places, and situations that spur writing ideas for children's literature.

Think about the five senses that we all learned about in our elementary school Science lessons.  Can you name all five? 

1.  See   2.  Hear   3. Smell   4.  Taste   5.  Touch

Spending time outside, on the Illinois prairie, in our garden or riding my bike down the country roads, I am aware of my five senses and how they inspire me as a writer-in-process.  I keep in mind the audience that I write for -- children.
  • Observe the Sights of Summer

The bright, vivid colors of summer are everywhere, on the prairie.  While spending a lazy summer day outside, I note the blooming flowers and herbs are a rainbow of color. Red verbena, orange tiger lilies, yellow calendulas, a variety of green herbs, blue bachelor buttons, an indigo wandering jew, and sweet purple violas inspire me to write down some ideas for a non-fiction children's book.  Look closely and examine all of the wonder and beauty that nature offers during the season of summer.

  •  Listen to the Sounds of Summer

I can hear many sounds of nature and the word onomatopeia comes to my mind. The whooshing of the wind between the long needle pine trees, the chirpping and fluttering of the birds, the croaking bull frogs in the gurgling creek, the kerplunk of the weight from my fishing rod into the pond, the buzzing of a bee, and the chattering and cheering of children playing baseball in a nearby field are just a few of the summer sounds that I can hear.  These sounds inspire me.
While spending summertime with family, I am amazed by the smart, unique conversations with our grandkids.  I delight in their curiosity and wondering questions that they have about life. Listening to their interactions, vocabulary usage and innocent conversations, provide many interesting writing topics that are priceless.  
Reading with the grands in the reading nook is the best. All seven of them inspire me to write and to share the love of reading and writing with them. 
Be still and listen to 
the sounds of children. 
Take the time to 
jot down the precious words.
  • Enjoy the Fragrance [Smells] of Summer

Together my husband, Perry and I enjoy gardening.  Since returning to the Midwest, our homestead on the prairie, is under construction and evolving.  The other day, while mowing the lawn, I found inspiration. At one point, I took a short break, to write down a thought that popped in my head. I grabbed a clipboard and wrote down my ideas.  Two more times, my lawn mowing was interrupted by more writing ideas. Once again, I headed to the West porch to scribe more thoughts on the piece of paper attached to the clipboard. 

There are so many fresh summer smells that I appreciate -- the newly harvested potatoes from the vegetable garden; oh, and the lovely bouquets of hydrangeas, lilacs, and peonies, that fill our home with a sweet fragrance. The aromatic herbs, of basil, rosemary, and mint, are summer aromas that tickle my nose and are used for baking and cooking. All of these fragrances ignite writing ideas that I quickly jot down.

  •  Delight in the Taste of Summer

Around our house, summertime means special treats harvested from the garden. Nothing tastes better than a fresh, vine ripened, homegrown tomato.  And the first bite of a crisp Red Delicious apple, picked off of the tree is always delightful. Summertime snacks may be a refreshing ice cream treat or a juicy, tasty peach with the grandkids.  Savor the summer flavors.  Jot down adjectives that describe the tastes of summer, quoted by kids.  Write a poem using these descriptive tastes of summertime.

  • Feel the Touch of Summer
On sunny summer days, I feel the warmth of the sun.  On stormy days, the cool, wet raindrops bring much needed rain for the garden.  Take the time to touch flower petals, tree leaves, vegetable plants and herbs.  Walk barefoot through the cool grass or slosh through the muddy garden after a rain. Think about what you feel.  Now write these thoughts and ideas on a Notes App in your phone or in your special journal filled with picture book ideas.

My inspirations become my ideas.  

Over time, these ideas become a first draft, followed by many revisions and editing, several rounds of critiquing, more revising and editing. In time, these ideas will become a polished picture book manuscript, ready for submission.  

What sparks your inspiration, 
as you write for children?  

This summer, while out and about, spending time with your family and friends, be inspired by what you see, hear, smell, taste and touch.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Be present. Inspiration is all around.  Keep a notepad, a journal, or even a clipboard handy. Jot down your thoughts and ideas, from your summer experiences, that inspire you to be the best writer you can be.

Always write about what inspires you.
Write about the ideas that you are passionate about.
Write about what is in your heart.


  1. Beautiful, colorful post, Suzy! I miss the landscape of the midwest! I grew up in Iowa.

  2. Thank you, Tina. We are Midwest neighbors! You grew up in "America's Heartland" and I grew up in the "Land of 10,000 Lakes."

  3. Making me homesick for Minnesota, but then I remember the mosquitoes. Love the photos. Thanks for an inspirational post.

    1. Hi Rosi, Thank you for stopping by our GROG. I am happy to know that you found this post to be inspirational. Looks like you share inspiration on your blog, too at: Would think that Roseville, CA offers two beautiful seasons without the *MN state bird* AKA mosquitoes!

  4. Oh, Garden Girl, your post brings back my summers as a kid in Ohio. I loved being outside an deploying in my grandma's garden. I like how you broke this down into senses. Thank you for sharing your inspiration, Perry and your grands! You have inspired me for sure with words, ideas and your photos.

    1. Oh, Kind Kathy! You warm my heart. I am pleased to know that you have memories of your Grandma's garden. I am thankful that I shared some inspiration with you.

  5. Lovely post, Suzy. I love this time of year in the midwest and you've reminded me to enjoy it with all of my senses, and also to use it to enhance my writing.
    And that Reading Nook is the coolest!

    1. Thank you, Pattyy! Summertime is such a beautiful season filled with many sights and sounds that reminds us of all that Mother Nature has to offer. The grands love hanging out in Pa Perry & Oma Sue's Reading Nook whenever they come for a visit from Texas.

  6. You are amazing Suzy! Your photography draws me in and the words won't let me leave! Thanks for sharing these great images and thoughts.

    1. Thank you, Todd. You and my GROG friends, along with Perry, always encourage me and support my love of reading, writing and creating. So, if I am amazing, I thank you for your awesomeness! [Even though this is an overused word, I use to to sincerely descibe you.

    2. Grammar check: . . . I used it to sincerely describe you.