Sunday, June 28, 2015

5 Methods to Staying Inspired

So, I'm the worst at starting a project and seeing it through 'til the end. The three novels I've published took time, dedication, putting down and picking up, forcing myself to write no matter what, and staying focused longer than I really wanted to. Novel writing is no easy feat. Anyone who's ever written and sent that fresh baby out into the world knows the Struggle Was Real.

For me, there's ways to make that happen a little more smoothly. I'm not saying these will work for you, mind, but if you're stuck in a rut, anything's worth a shot, right?

1. Just Write. Don't outline. Don't worry about word choice, sentence structure, paragraph length, adding the right action to dialogue or, for that matter, obsessing over the flow and feel of that dialogue as if you're binding those pages tomorrow and slapping 'em on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. Get the story out of your head and onto the page. Don't look back. Save that for the editing process.

2. People Watch. This is a lot of fun and wonderfully easy. One of my favorite pastimes is to walk into a Starbucks, order my fave cup of coffee (Grande Non-Fat Misto or, if it's three-hundred degrees outside, a Grande Decaf Iced Caramel Macchiato), take a seat, and pretend as if I'm surfing on my laptop or reading. In all actuality, I'm listening. Watching. Observing the interaction between real, live people. It's actually a great practice to have your laptop or pen and paper handy, because you might just get inspired enough to jot down a few lines.

3. Read. This is a given, I know, but sometimes--a lot of times when you're attempting to write and juggle a day job and, perhaps, a family at home, taking time to read is like planning a vacation to Jamaica. It's a process and, well, the limited hours on the clock simply won't permit such a luxury. But you must read. The best time for me is just before bed, when all electronics are turned off, my face is washed and moisturized, teeth are brushed, and I'm in that zone of relaxation. This allows my brain to sink into the story, to leave behind whatever happened during the day, and to absorb words, story flow, and theme. Feed your writer's mind.

4. Create a WIP Soundtrack. This is, hands down, one of my favorite parts of getting inspired. Listen to lyrics, listen to rhythm. Get a nice mix going on and make that playlist on Spotify or, like I used to do, a disc or flash drive. This is the mix that will turn your mind to your characters, even when they've left you and, I don't know, started planning a trip to Jamaica. Get them back. Allow music to connect their lives, their wants and needs to your fingertips.

5. Connect with Other Writers/Authors. The moment I disconnect from the people who are going through the exact same struggle as me, the writer's drive begins to disintegrate. Stay in touch with other authors on social media, read their websites and blogs, meet up with your local writer's group for critique and brainstorming sessions. Uplift one another to success. These are the faces and minds who will always understand you, who know what it's like to have a story pester and eat at you 'til it's finally given life on the page.

I hope these tips were helpful and inspiring. Remember, in the words of the great Louis L'Amour, "Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow, until the faucet is turned on."

Peace, Love & Junior Mints,

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