Inspiration, realization, and manifestation are three stages of spiritual development that lead to spiritual fulfillment. The development of a piece of writing mirrors these three stages of spiritual development.
For example, I first heard about Transcendental Meditation (TM) from my cousin Steve, who’d become a meditator and spoke articulately about the benefits he was enjoying from it. Inspired by the picture he painted of meditation’s effects, I was motivated to try it.
However, it took me a year or two to to actually realize what I’d been inspired to do—when I got to a point where I could no longer ignore the need for a change in my life. It was then that I decided to be trained in TM.
Over the next few years, I manifested the kind of life I’d imagined TM could make possible for me, one that was calmer, more enjoyable, more creative.
Inspiration, realization, and manifestation are also the stages of developing a piece of writing.
First, there is the inspiration. It can be something from our own life—a love triangle, a moral dilemma. It can be something we see—a teenager fishing alone at a pond during school hours, a rusted-out car body beside a nice, suburban garage. It can be a bit of news—a woman who called 911 to get a cute cop back to her house, a father who brawled with a mall Easter Bunny. Whatever it may be, it sets us thinking about the implications, gets our imagination juiced, makes us want to explore what happened.
It make take some time for the inspiration to percolate in our mind, develop in our imagination, begin to take shape and begin to be realized as a potential poem, short story, drama, essay, novel, or whatever (one of the things that can take time is determining what form will be best for the telling). Eventually, we get to the point where we decide whether or not we think the story “has legs,” whether it has enough potential and we care enough about it to put the energy into writing something based on it.
Finally, we sit down and actually begin to manifest the story. As we all know, it’s far from a done deal at that point. We may find out that we chose the wrong form and have to switch to another, or we may find that something we thought would expand into a story just won’t. But if all goes well, we begin to enjoy the manifestation of an idea that began small, but was the seed of something bigger. We watch that seed sprout and grow into something full and rich and lush.
And it’s as satisfying as any spiritual experience we’ll ever have. In the end, we write to experience inspiration, realization, and manifestation. It’s this process that fulfills us as writers.