Saturday, September 15, 2012

when inspiration goes MIA

Sometimes writing is easy.

I'll be powering along, typing like crazy, the words going from my brain to my fingers to the page. I'm on the right chapter and my outline is working well and everything's going just like it's supposed to.

Sometimes writing is hard.

When I stare at the blank Word doc and the words won't come and my outline stopped working a few chapters ago. When I'm bored of my characters and nothing's going right, and-for-goodness'-sakes why'd I ever think writing a book was such a good idea in the first place?

And I sit there, all tired and empty, feeling like my writing is a failure because I don't like any of the sentences that pop into my head, and my poor exhausted brain can't even remember what the point of the book was in the first place.

The first time it happened to me I sort of moped around the place until someone took charge and handed me a very valuable piece of advice.

"Just forget about it. Turn off your computer, put your outline back on your bookshelf, and try to forget all about this novel that you've been working so hard on."

I don't really remember what my reaction to that was, but I probably didn't believe whoever told me this. I mean, really? I've worked so hard on this, and you want me to just forget about it now?

Basically, the answer is yes. Not forever (because quitting is rarely a good idea), but for a week or two it's usually a good idea to take a break from whatever's giving you trouble. I promise, staring at a Word document for hours on end won't make the words magically appear. You've just run out of gas.

Creative activity works the same way as any other kind of activity - you have to put food in in order to get energy to come out. If you don't stock up on creative "food," your supply of creative energy is bound to run low sometime.
The kind of creative "food" that I find helps me to get going again is compiled below in a list. If you're stuck, the best thing to do is step back from your project for about a week. Try not to even think about it during those seven days, and also, try to stay off of the computer during this period.
The Epic List of Things I Do and Places I Go When My Inspiration Goes MIA
Read. Read, read, read. Grab a stack of comics and classics and everything in between and just read for hours on end.
Don't write much at all, if you can help it.
Listen. To music, radio dramas, the news, other people's conversations (when appropriate, that is.)
Grab your camera and go for a walk. Try looking at things in new ways.
Spend lots of time with people, if you can.
Go to the library and grab something new to read. Also, fyi, the library is a great way to get some peoplewatching done.
Peoplewatch whenever possible. (again, when appropriate.)
Get out as much as possible. Go grocery shopping, take your dog for a walk, dip your toes in the lake or pond or even the mud puddle outside your front door.
Bake something.
Do something spontaneous and completely wacky, just for fun.
 Play with your younger siblings
Do a puzzle or board game.
Make a list and then check everthing off systematically. It's a very rewarding feeling, to complete a list, which is nice when the writing isn't paying off.
I could add more to the list, but I think that gives you a pretty good idea. Finally, I'll leave you with the wise words of Benjamin Franklin:

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."

If you're stuck and looking for inspiration, don't wait for it to bonk you on the nose! Forget about your project for now (be it writing or something else) and go LOOKING for that inspiring spark.

I promise you, it's there. And if you look hard enough, you'll find it every time.



  1. the only thing I have to say is.... you are great. not fair. you are the best writer and i will never get that good. :P LOL. see you soon.

    1. Lyss, you just made my day. That's so sweet of you to say so...I'm honoured, I really am.

      But I'm really not all that spectacular...and you can definitely write just as good or maybe even better then I do. ;) Just write hard and write lots, and if you ever need any help or advice I'm only an email away.


    2. I think you're a little wrong. I am nothing compared to you. But thanks any way.


Comments from you make my day! ♥ True story.