Salut, all! Today’s Writing Life post comes from my fellow writer-friend, Jessi, over at A BA in BS. We’ve been through a lot together, me and this chick! We’ve been friends for 13 years, created, hosted, and nurtured a writing group together, and even served as Municipal Liaisons in Massachusetts for NaNoWriMo 2010! So, enjoy!
Inspiration. The ever illusive and always floating around us phantom that seems to slip through our fingers whenever we’re searching for it in earnest. I’m not sure about you, but my muse is a bit of a nudge. She shows herself when she feels it’s appropriate and no other time. I’ve tried coaxing her out. Leave some cookies and a mug of coffee by her door and hope she’ll want to play. I even made the cookies myself… No dice. ‘Fine. I’ll write this without her’, I convince myself and crack my knuckles to sit back and write.
It was a dark and stereotypical night when our hero found himself caught in a rain storm
“Really?” I sigh, delete and try again for the perfect first set of sentences. The truth of the matter is however, it’s not happening. Whether it’s a lack of inspiration or the lack of perfect, non-cliched writing ; the truth is, no quality writing is happening. So what do you or I do in that case?
Take a break
Maybe you’ve been starring at the computer screen for just about as long as you can remember. The hours have ticked by and your poor eyes are weary, dry and less than welcoming to the bright white of the empty page of text. Time to get up. Let the dog out, get a fresh cup of coffee, or go outside to smoke a cigarette. Whatever it is that you do to take your mind and eyes off the computer screen for a five minute break, do it. Sometimes all it takes is a momentary change of environment.
Try a writing exercise
It sounds silly. You’re working on your masterpiece, why would you stray from that? Well for starters, it may give you a new perspective on your hero/heroines current predicament. Also it could give you a new idea for a setting or character design. The point is to get your mind working on something else, and potentially, allowing it to then tangent back to your original, with something completely unexpected in tow.
Ok. I’ll admit. This sounds a little stereotypical but at the same time, stop and give it a thought. How is your character reacting in the scene you’re imagining. Is it high stress? Are they about to valiantly save the love of their life? Are they relaxing by a stream? Where are they located?
Having some sort of soundtrack to your writing can save you in more than one instance. Sometimes listening to your characters theme song (assuming they have one) can trigger memories that you haven’t yet created for them, giving them purpose for being in the scene. Give it a shot, worse comes to worse, it doesn’t work and you’re still here.
Your inspiration comes from…
So where does your inspiration come from? Did you get the idea for the novel through a conversation? A walk in the park? Or did it pop up and become a pile of notes at a coffee shop, scribbled all over napkins? It may sound simple, but revisit that moment. Have a conversation with someone that understands the writing process and it’s inherent quirks. We all have writer friends that see how our brains work even if they don’t quite see through all our gauzy thought processes. Try to relive that moment, or go back through those piles of notes, seeing if something comes back to you, or even spurs on your muse.
So your muse is back or at least on speaking terms with you. Huzzah! The point however, of all of this is to try to gather on the inspiring moments in your life. Try something different and see what happens. I’ve always been a fan of writing to write, even when you’re in the middle of a project. Sometimes those bits of tangent lead you in a direction you never imagined and bring you to brand new conclusions. Even if it’s something you don’t want to use, you’re thinking and bringing your storyline forward.
And then again… there’s always the backspace and delete keys. Nothing is forever, and you can change it all as much as you want. You are all my biggest inspiration. You who keep writing, even knowing that this may all lead to nothing.
Keep it up and tell your muse to stop being such a pain in the tush.
Jessica is a tenacious, twenty something with big dreams of becoming a published novelist. She enjoys sitting in between the stacks at libraries, pulling inspiration from texts there in. She is a Municipal Liason for National Novel Writing Month (Worcester, MA) and the co-founder of Inkwell Imaginings, a writing group settled in Southbridge,MA at the Jacob Edwards Library. Visit A BA in BS.