How to Have an Epiphany

I am a true believer in epiphanies, those precious, rare events when suddenly a great idea seems to come to you out of the blue. I have actually only had a true epiphany come to me a few times in my writing career. When they happen, it is like a godsend, and in some situations I believe God can work that way. There are many instances, in my life, in scripture and in history when man has been talked to by God through dreams or visions or maybe even a daydream. In those cases, those voices or ideas we are exposed to could be considered epiphanies.

But I also believe that much of the time it is a matter of letting the brain do its work. I have learned that the subconscious is a powerful thing, and if you can tap into it, you can learn to benefit from it. Have a problem you don’t have a solution for? Put it in the back of your mind, go on about your business and do other things and let your subconscious work on it. Often you will come up with a solution because your subconscious has been working on it.

I mentioned in a recent blog that I was struggling with finding a satisfactory ending for Tesla’s Ghost. I had an ending, but everyone who read it gave me a Meh as a response, which was pretty much my response as well.

In the past, I have tried hammering out a variety of endings, hoping that eventually one of them would solve the problem. That works sometimes, but it can be counterproductive. Instead, this time, I decided to put my subconscious to work on it, and let it simmer in my mind. We’ve been in the middle of our 48-hour Film Challenge at our school, which has kept me busy, so I didn’t have time to work on it anyway, so I just let it simmer.

Last night, I had a thought that I wanted to include an element where Elizabeth, one of my characters, struggles to keep Nikola Tesla from falling to his death from the top of his tower. That was the beginning of it. This morning, as I was lying in bed trying to decide if I was going to get up or not, it all began unfolding in front of me.

A lot of times, what stops my creativity from working is responsibilities in other areas. When I free my mind up from those responsibilities, my creativity takes off. That’s why I tend to write in the early morning. I don’t have the daily stresses on my mind.

That’s part of what I think was happening here. My subconscious had been working the problem for days, the stresses of the last few days were gone, and I was relaxed. The Perfect Storm. And there we go…epiphany.

I got up and rewrote the ending. I am happy with the way it turned out, and my wife, often my toughest critic, gives her approval.

Now that I have a formula for problem solving, I plan on trying it again in the future.