I'm looking for a word, or concise phrase that describes something. (So, this isn't just a single-word-request, and I'm unsure how to tag it.)

First, some examples of things that are close, but may not quite be what I'm trying to describe:

Visual artists (painters, sculptors, etc), often get a vision of something, then try to render their vision concrete using a medium and/or particular style.

"When Michelangelo looked at the block of marble he was to carve he looked beyond the outside and saw the shape of the statue he was about to create."

Musicians often have a 'sound' (or melody) in their head, that they try to make real.

(I can't find the good quote I recall):

"You will never come on anything in nature that sounds like a symphony."

So, for those artists it's not unusual to say that what they're aiming for is fully-formed in their head (yes, I realize not all visual or sound (aural? auditory?) art is created this way). The only problem the artists with these visions encounter is the time, labor, and the struggle with materials and technique to get something close to their vision out into reality.

But it is unusual, but not unheard of, for authors to get something like this artistic vision. Sometimes the muse (or monkey on their back) is beating down the doors - and things blossom, fully-formed - just sitting in their head, just waiting to come out - they flow.

"Well, The Princess Bride opened itself to me. I never had a writing experience like it. ... and it all just came out."


"The first time I wrote a real play, I was in college, eating breakfast, and heard a single line of dialogue echoing over and over in my mind. Intrigued, I moved to the typewriter (yes, it was that long ago) and took dictation (there's no other word for it) for two straight hours during which the characters, their plight, and every aspect of the drama was thrown at me at blazing speed without a moment of hesitation, doubt, or contemplative thought. The play (a one-act) was produced in college, produced professionally, and hardly a line changed from that first astounding burst."

A word that doesn't quite capture this experience: Promethean (the experience or result doesn't have to be boldly creative, which Promethean implies).

@vstrong has mentioned, and I have thought of describing it as Athenian, but is that a recognized/popular meaning for that word (is that word popularly used, even)? If I use that word, are most literate people going to understand my meaning - or are they going to have to derive it from their knowledge of Greek/Roman myth (scanty in this day and age) and contextual clues? Because mostly, when I run across that word, I associate that with residents of Athens, Greece - and I have a fair grounding in myth, which it seems most people do not.

  • Full-blown means 'with all the air it will hold', and fully-fledged means 'with all adult feathers grown'. Which ever one you want to use, make sure you don't confuse inflation with bird development. Since ideas contain neither air nor feathers, this isn't hard; as long as you remember you're describing things that don't exist. Sep 21, 2015 at 17:14
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    Do you mean like Athena from Zeus? greekmythology.com/Myths/The_Myths/Birth_of_Athena/…
    – vstrong
    Sep 21, 2015 at 17:17
  • Something between concept and reality might be mental/cognitive representation.
    – jxh
    Sep 21, 2015 at 17:29
  • If you were limiting yourself to a single word, you'd certainly do better with "Athena-like" than with "Athenian." You might also consider "Coleridgean" (since the story of how the wording to "Kubla Khan" came to Coleridge in a dream is pretty well known). But this may be yet another situation where using more than one word to get your meaning across is worth it.
    – Sven Yargs
    Sep 24, 2015 at 15:37
  • @SvenYargs I'm not adverse to more than one word, but would like a nice turn of phrase. Have you got something else besides Coleridgean? (I'd forgotten that story until you mentioned it - and I doubt a lot of people know it).
    – user3082
    Sep 25, 2015 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


Perhaps literary inspiration

Defintion of "inspiration" by MW:

  • something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone

  • a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something

  • a good idea

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