In an episode of "Comedians in Cars getting Coffee," Dave Chappelle describes to Jerry Seinfeld how ideas abduct writers without warning.
The idea says "get in the car," and I'm like "where am I going?" The idea says "don't worry, I'm driving."Dave Chappelle, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
Sometimes, he says, "I'm in the passenger seat," and other times "I'm in the trunk." The idea leads. Oftentimes ideas for future posts come to me while I'm about to fall asleep, and I have to run out of bed to find my notebook. There is a violence to their arrival.
The word genius comes from Rome. The Romans believed everyone has a guiding inner spirit or genius that affords them unique talents. The moment the idea arrives is a moment of clarity. Something becomes apparent that wasn't before. Recently I recognized that Denver in Toni Morrison's Beloved and Pi Patel in Yann Martel's Life of Pi derive their hope from similar places. It didn't feel as if I thought of this idea so much as if it was told to me. It was my genius, begging for me to listen.
I can tell when my genius is healthy. I think the most beautiful ideas. Words flow smoother. I draw connections more easily. My genius is healthy when I feed it, when I sit in conversation with myself and let these ideas flow out of me. My genius is unhealthy when I starve it, when ideas come knocking and I never answer. Inspiration is perishable. I believe the foremost goal of any creator is to listen to their genius -- we do not drive the car. The idea snatches us from bed. The best artists are those who stumble after it.