Motivational Monday: Finding inspiration

There are times when the words flow forward, a strong unstoppable current that carries anything in its path. Then there are other times when the words come in a trickle, a slow moving stream, jammed with pebbles in some spots and boulders in others. And every once in a while, the flow becomes stagnant–whether because of life circumstances or because you’re simply drained from working too much.

This is such a natural part of the process! Frustrating, yes, but normal. Just recently, I had to stop working on my WIP for a while. The words were drying up, not because they weren’t there but because my body was going through a rough patch. Not only was I flaring with the lupus and fibro, but I’d developed tendonitis in my shoulder, severe spasms in my cervical area, and my wrists were swollen. Talk about getting creativity sucked out of you!

So how do you find motivation when the words just won’t come? When you’ve dried up from the inside?

You find inspiration somewhere else. All you need is a spark–a hearty, healthy spark–to trigger one creative endeavor. Imagine a dam of twigs. The spark loosens a small hole that lets some water in, a trickle. Then that trickle grows and widens so it’s a stream. The process continues, trickle, stream, until there’s so much pressure the dam breaks and a torrent of water pours over the wreckage, burying it.

Inspiration and motivation work this way. I’ve held hard and fast to this idea for a while now, and it helps every single time. Here are some things I’ll do to help myself heal and bring the power on.

  1. I read. Think of reading and a fountain filled with new words, phrases, and ideas. When you’re feeling depleted of words, reading will renew you. I love to imagine that as I read, the words from the book I’m reading seep into my pores, satiating me. And in doing so, satisfying a deep thirst. Not only do ideas beget ideas, but words beget words. It’s such a beautiful thing. Sometimes, I only have to read one book to feel replenished. Other times I have to read more. But every time, it works.
  2. I change activities. Instead of pushing myself even harder when I’m already on empty, I’ll do something else. Maybe I’ll take my son to the park and, if I’m feeling up to it physically, I’ll play with him with the soccer ball. If I’m not up to it, maybe I’ll take him out somewhere, or we’ll play a board game. Or we’ll read one of his books together. Or maybe I’ll go sight-seeing with my husband around town. Or maybe I’ll take a “mini-cation” and do something want to do–by myself. Maybe I’ll see a movie I’ve been wanting to see. Maybe I’ll sit by the bay and listen to the water lapping against the seawall, or I’ll . Maybe I’ll go shopping! I do something to shift from my current state of mind and that can be enough to loosen the words out of me.
  3. I try another genre or category. One of the things I love about writing for different age categories or genres, is that when I’m feeling drained in one area, I can simply cross over to another and it’s fresh, new words. A new feel. A new idea or direction–and that’s enough to get me back on track.
  4. I try another creative activity. I love photography. I love to draw (though I’m not really good at it lol). I love crafts. When I’m feeling bogged down and uninspired, sometimes all I have to do is to get my brain on another creative endeavor and I feel refreshed. Other authors paint. Or write music. Or are graphic designers. Any creative exercise outside of writing can fuel your words!
  5. I find my way to nature. There’s something to be said about letting nature fill you with peace from the inside out and letting that peace dislodge the words from you.

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So what do you do to get your words back?

Motivational Monday

I’ve been so deep in the writing cave, that I’ve neglected my Motivational Monday series. I’ve finished the first draft now, and it’s sitting, gaining perspective. 🙂 I’ve switched to revising a picture book manuscript and preparing for my fall classes, which start in two weeks. There’s never a dull moment! On that note, hope these are inspiring!

We cant become by remaining the same

Write and write and write

Just do it

Never Give Up3

Motivational Monday

I’m in the thick of rewriting my WIP and I’m happy to say it’s finally flowing, that I’m finally progressing. I’ve covered 27K in two weeks, and I’m hopeful that in another three, I’ll be done with the first draft. I finally worked through my desire to go back and re-read/edit every. freaking. scene. It was a struggle, but I pushed through it. What helped me? Remembering this:

Good thing about writing

It’s okay to make mistakes in the first draft. For me, it’s a journey of discovery, and in attempts to try to “get it right” right away, I was shutting down. I also realized that in order to be able to revise anything, I needed to write something first. And I had a plan, an outline. At first, I fretted that I didn’t have all the details worked out. That I only knew with certainty the major plot points, how it ends. I also had the first half more fleshed out, but that second half scared the bejeezers out of me. Because while I knew what was going to happen, I wasn’t sure how I was going to connect the dots. Then I remembered this:

Writing is like driving

And I took it by sections. As I connected the inciting incident to the first plot point, the events coming right after came into focus. As I connected the first plot point to the second, the details after that became clear. It’s been a dance. Write, flesh out outline more. Write, flesh out outline more. I’m happy with this progress, and I feel more confident with how the story is evolving. I have half the manuscript written, and though the other half is still blank:

Pages are still blank

You would think that with two other manuscripts under my belt, I would feel more confident and comfortable with this one. But truth be told, each one has brought with it a different process, and a different set of emotional expectations. I’ve done a lot of soul searching with this WIP. It’s too close to my own experiences with my autoimmune disorder, and because of that, it’s too painful at times. I find myself wanting to protect my MC–a lot, too much–and I’ve learned to identify this problem so I can fix it. Because it’s been hard to write, I know it’s important to write.

Never give up on a dream

I’m hopeful and optimistic I will be writing THE END by August 1st. Then I look forward to revision, when I can take this clump of words and continue shaping it into the story I know it can be.

Happy writing, everyone!

Motivational Monday

Because I’m in the middle of a draft, and because I keep teetering between revising the beginning and continuing to write, today’s theme seems to be: keep writing until you reach the end. In that first draft, don’t worry about the audience and don’t be afraid of writing crap, just immerse yourself in the story and “tell the hell out of it” (Chris Crutcher @ SCBWI Miami 2014). You can worry about all else in revision.

First Drafts

Just finish

Quantity leads to quality

Write the good and ugly

Happy writing!