Feeling Uninspired? Me Too!

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Inspiration is a beautiful, glorious thing. It hits you like a static shock: unexpected and something you just can’t miss. When it has you cradled in its creative arms, words flow effortlessly as if from the great beyond.

But it’s fickle.

You can’t always count on inspiration. In fact if you want to be a writer, a real writer and not a dabbler, you can’t count on it at all. You can hope for it, of course, and welcome it when it does arrive, hoarding all of its beautiful suggestions for drier, emptier days. But you will get nowhere if you sit waiting for inspiration to strike.

Inspiration has other things to do. Inspiration has a packed calendar and reminders on its phone that beep every three minutes. Inspiration is really, really busy.

The work of writing comes when you’re standing in the middle of the idea desert, not even a mirage of a thought for miles in every direction, the sun beating down you as though you were under interrogation. The work comes when you are in a tundra of white even sameness all around, with not even a hint of warmth to spark an idea.

The work comes when you stare at that blinking cursor long enough and just start typing.

I’ve talked before about how we like to romanticize the idea of writing, that it seems like it should be all quills and garrets and smooth, unbroken stretches of silence. It’s nothing like that.

Nope, writing — real writing — is knowing when you’re not inspired. And it’s sitting down to do the work anyway.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Where Are the Inspiration Imps When You Need Them?

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I’m having one of those uninspired moments about, well, everything. Perhaps it is the change of seasons; perhaps it’s the idea that that icy-white specter of winter looms just weeks away. Or maybe it’s the side-effect of caffeine deprivation.

It’s probably the caffeine deprivation. Sometimes I really miss it.

Whatever it is, today there is a wall between me and that creative part of my brain, and no matter how I knock, it’s not answering. Why would it? It’s probably off doing something creative. I only wish it had invited me.

But here’s the thing. Inspiration or no inspiration, drive or no drive, caffeine or no caffeine, I’m plowing ahead. Creative work doesn’t get done if you wait for the Inspiration Imps to gild your path with feathery motivation. Inspiration Imps are notoriously unreliable.

It’s an imp thing.

No, the work grows and shapes and breathes precisely because of those times when the imps are frolicking without their cell phones in some inaccessible area. That is when you have to roll up your sleeves and face the keyboard. Well, you don’t literally have to roll up your sleeves, because it’s not like they are going to get dirty or wet, and if they are, then you have some computer maintenance issues.

But the point still stands. Imps or no imps, onward I go.

Have a minute? Watch this video.

Rather read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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4 Ways to Write Yourself out of a Corner

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As I said yesterday, watch this space for an upcoming announcement about Aunty Ida. It should be fun.

Getting to the business of blogging, let’s talk about backing yourself into corners while writing. You have that moment where you’ve closed all the doors and windows, and there’s nothing but two slabs of wall meeting behind you. It all looks impossible and bleak, and you’d like to see your character manage to get out of that one.

And then you realize you’re the one who’ll have to hatch the escape plan. Oops.

So now what? I have four suggestions:

1. Look at your characters and who they are, what they want, and what they have to do to get it. You have a protagonist trapped in a cave with a dragon breathing fire at her. Who is your protagonist? How would she react? What does she want (not to be barbecued, the dragon’s mystical, nonflammable oven gloves)? What does the dragon want? Death to the intruder? Her fabulous, glittery shoes?

2. Examine your environment. Even a corner isn’t always a corner. Back to our gorgeously-shoed protagonist and our fiery dragon. What is behind her in the cave? Is it rock? What kind of rock? What happens when the dragon’s fire hits the rock? Maybe it results in a sparkly mineral the dragon’s never noticed before and the protagonist can use to help the dragon make its own fabulous, glittery shoes.

3. Invent something or someone. Does this one feel like cheating? Well, it isn’t, because you can always, always fix it later when you edit, placing earlier references if you need them. Unlike the warning message on the dragon’s cave, your story isn’t written in stone, unless you’re using the most unforgiving medium ever.

4. Set a timer. This method is one of my favorite ways to get going when I can’t seem to move forward. I set a timer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30, and just write without giving myself time to think.

Don’t dread the corners. That’s where the story gets good and the challenge sets in.

Need something to read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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When Writing’s Not a Rainbow Made of Angels Singing Puppies

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It’s funny how far the beginning can feel from the end. When I sat down to write this post, all I could think about was being this side of the 200 words or so I needed to write. And when I’d managed, when I got to the things like categories, tagging and a headline, I’d be on the other side of the words.

From here to there, with a few strokes of a keyboard.

Of course, anyone who’s ever stared a blinking cursor in the eye knows it’s not really that easy. It’s not as though you open a spigot and out pour the words, though on the rare occasions when that does happen, it’s like a rainbow made of angels singing puppies.

But the reality is there’s only one way from this side to the other. You’ve got to put your head down–only don’t do this literally, it makes it tough to see and even tougher to type–and let your fingers do the writing. Easier said than done, right?

It’s like looking down when you’re at a great height. Or so I’m led to believe. I’m very rarely at a height great enough to check that advice. But metaphorically, it’s the same thing. Don’t measure the distance.

Just take the ride.

Need something to read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Mondays Have Split Personalities

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There’s something about a Monday. There’s the promise of a fresh, new week, one which hasn’t yet devolved into should-have-dones and was-that-worth-its. It’s a day when you can imagine doing something new, something different.

And then there’s Monday’s flip side, the feeling that it’s another long stretch ahead, with the time blocks already colored in in places, routine as inevitable as the sunrise.

It’s as though it has two personalities, the open one, ready to tackle problems, ready to start anew, and the groaning one, the one that always says, when your eyes pop open and it’s no longer Sunday, “Here we go again.”

Monday has a burden, though. It always has to go first, and while that can be a benefit–it gets you at the highest energy point–it also means it always gets the grumbles.

I mean, think of Garfield and his hostile attitude to Mondays.

So I’m taking this Monday as the fresh kind, as the opportunity kind. Next Monday, though, all bets are off.

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Writing Logjam Unjammed?

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As you may know if you are a regular reader of this blog, I’ve been going through a writing rough patch. When you write, everything’s in your head, and sometimes, your head doesn’t want to cooperate.

Mine has really been digging its brainy heels in.

But yesterday, suddenly, it came to me what writing, at least fiction writing, is. You can create entire people out of nothing, create complete worlds at the hint of a whim. It’s an omnipotence that should make us giddy with our own power.

We make. We destroy. We can take the nagging, annoying bits of our own lives, push them into our imaginary worlds and twist them however we might like. We hold the ultimate control over our figments, we can change the world, if only the one at the end of the keyboard.

As long as the characters cooperate. But that’s another story.

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It’s Like a Tap Dance of Pounding

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I get headaches, sometimes migraines, though I’m not sure that’s what it is today. Meanwhile, the work on my building continues, making me unsure of whether the pounding is coming from inside or outside of my head. At one point, they seemed to go in rhythm, the hammering through the walls and the hammering through my skull.

Fun times.

It’s not even particularly loud noise today. It’s only persistent, but that’s the thing with persistent sound, it’s tough to drown it out.

Of course the tricky bit is that the words I need also lurk inside my skull, it’s it’s a lot like the pounding is keeping them in there, locking them in where they multiply and grow. Maybe the problem is that there are too many words inside, stuck, trapped, and they’re trying to get out. Maybe this kind of writer’s block is the source of most headaches.

I’ve fired up a fan, and hopefully the cooling my circuits will be just the thing I need to end the pounding inside. Outside, unfortunately, will last until the job is done.

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Download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!