Writers need inspiration to write well. Exceptional writers need exceptional inspiration to write even better. Conventional methods and even excellent skills are insufficient to pull it off. Butterflies are not only gorgeous but can also act as a source of limitless inspiration.
No one knew this better than Vladimir Nabokov, the renowned Russian-American author who became a committed lepidopterist. If you read his article published in the New Yorker back in 1948, you wouldn’t doubt how much influence butterflies had on his observation and linguistic skills. It speaks volumes about how much he knew and drew from these wonderful creatures to create his masterpieces.
Nabokov was not the only one. John Keats, an English poet of rare talent who died young in the 19th century, famously used the symbolism of butterflies in his works, poems, and letters. He wrote to his fiancée, “I almost wish we were butterflies and lived but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.” It is hard to think of a better symbol of affection and attachment to the loved one.
So, what about butterflies yields such a powerful and irresistible source of inspiration for great writers? What is it that you can learn from if you have already decided to put pen to paper? Let’s take a closer look to find out.
Time is Relative
Butterflies do not live long. Their lives are brief, but their beauty is not. One can only wonder how quickly each and every slice of beauty is created, only to perish in a day or two. This is a testament to how little time we all have. If you are serious about writing, never procrastinate. Please do it now and do it often lest you want your muses to slip away.
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Through the flapping of their wings, butterflies seem to be egging us on to enjoy things here and now. If they could talk, carpe diem would most likely be their motto.
Butterflies Small But Beautiful
Butterflies are small and look feeble and fragile. But they are so diverse and beautiful that it’s impossible to help but admire the sheer beauty of the color palettes butterflies concoct day in and day out. The true masters of disguise, they can blend in almost any environment.
Butterflies can teach writers how to appreciate unadulterated, pristine beauty. Every great writer is a genuine aesthete in the first place. You don’t need to become a lepidopterist like Nabokov to enjoy the mesmerizing glamor that looks short-lived and vulnerable yet overwhelming and enduring.
Butterfly as a Symbol
Writers use lots of symbols in their works. It is one of the most frequently used literary devices to represent something that signifies more than just the literal meaning of a word or an object.
I can’t even imagine a creature or an object that can beat butterfly symbolism. Butterflies represent so much and convey this through their varying colors. Colors can serve as powerful symbols that lend themselves to various interpretations in different cultures. For instance, green butterflies are relatively uncommon, and you may consider yourself having a lucky day if you happen to see one.
Black butterflies are often associated with ghosts and the souls of people trying to delay their departure for the afterlife. The list continues. Butterflies have been used as symbols for weddings, life in general, and adventurous trips.
Life Continues No Matter What
Given the speed at which butterflies come and go, we can only admire the continuous life cycle they create with their births and deaths. Great writers are also great observers. For writers, it is important to continue seizing the moment by studying butterflies’ beautiful albeit short life journeys.
Just like Nabokov, you can sharpen your observation and linguistic skills by watching and then describing your observations in detail. Given the diversity of colors and symbolic meanings, butterflies will keep you busy. You will never regret taking the time to turn your observational routine into a habit. Nor will your loyal readers.
Butterflies are one of the most beautiful species on earth. Their beauty is mind-boggling, and they influence humans in many ways. Butterflies often serve as a source of powerful aesthetic and creative inspiration for writers.
With so many things they can represent, from hope and life to spiritual development and continuous change, butterflies never fail to inspire writers to write better, write more, and write ever more beautifully.
Author: Christian Duke is an experienced author, blogger, and mentor. He has guided many young writers on their challenging and tumultuous paths to successful writing careers. Hardly anyone else knows what it takes to overcome writer’s block and derive continuous inspiration from unlikely sources better than Christian.