by Emily Conrad

Taming the Lion

Inspiration sits at the top of the list
of things I’d like to tame.
If only he liked the scent of coffee
(but, honestly, what lion would?)
I could brew him a cup,
lure him into coming close.
He would nuzzle my shoulder
with his massive head,
tickling my ear with his mane,
purring ideas from his deep throat.

Instead, he flicks his tail and paces
the end of the room.
His claw-heavy paws dig
into the hardwood,
his sharp brown eyes lick the kitchen.
He roars and swipes at the lamps.
Light bulbs shatter.

The sun saves the day by beaming
through the window.
The pads of his paws
sense the warmth
and like a dog or a tabby,
he slumps, haunches first, onto the floor.
Only then I approach and record
his happy sighs as best I can.

Then, the sun eases past,
the shadows fall,
the day and its work is done.
What’s written will have to do,
and tomorrow, we’ll begin again.


As the poem suggests, inspiration can be a battle for me. To feed my writing, I find I have to invest time in idea generation and capture. Feel free to borrow these tactics and please share your own in the comments!

Reading. I gather the names of books and authors to check out from writer friends who understand my taste and aspirations, and from other sources I trust, like thought-provoking blog posts, and, most recently from a couple of book reviews in an older issue of Ruminate magazine.

Journaling. Writing in a journal takes the pressure off, since it’s not for public consumption…unless that’s what I choose to make it. Since inspiration is part of the problem, I find using journals with prompts like this one from Art of Adventure helps get me going. Having learned from that journal, I now sometimes write my way through passages in the Bible. Some–but nowhere near all–of what I write ends up being usable for posts.

Lists. If inspiration steps from the shadows when I don’t have time to do it justice, I jot down the basics. I have a document on my laptop of blog ideas and partial posts. I have a running memo on my phone with snatches of stories. If I failed to at least capture the essence of the idea, it would be gone by the time I sat to write next. Even if months pass before I use something I’ve entered, that reserve of ideas serves as a safety net, catching me when I’m all out of ideas.

Continuing education the free and/or easy way. I read books on writing fiction. I take the occasional free course on blogging. These help give me new ways to approach my subjects or new tools to use, and new approaches and tools can inspire new ideas.

Find or make prompts. The Five Minute Friday blogging community is great for supplying a weekly prompt. Inspired by them, I made word salsa so I could have a fresh prompt whenever the need struck. From my word salsa jar, I drew the word “tame” and that’s how I ended up with the poem at this post’s opening.

Does your job rely on inspiration? How do you tame your inspiration lion? I can always use more tips!

Taming the Inspiration Lion: a poem + 5 tips from a full-time creative via @emilyrconrad