Oh for the love of … inspiration!

A few years ago I decided to knuckle down and make my dream of writing a reality.  From the age of 15 or 16 I’ve dreamed of being a romance writer.  Mills and Boon was all the rage in the romance genre during that time and it fed the tender heart of an impressionable young girl.  And so a dream was born …to be able to put pen to paper, let the words pour out and create a world of escape for others to indulge in.

I had such admiration for the likes of Christine Rimmer, Emma Darcy, Penny Jordan, Betty Neels and too many others to mention.  Like I said, during my teenage years Mills and Boon was the go-to for all things romance.  The single title novel was just peeking it’s head over the the publishing horizon.  They made it seem so easy, so effortless to the teenage me.  Silly, naïve me!

Now that I have, indeed, taken my courage in both hands and put my dream of writing romance into action I now realise writing is anything but easy and effortless.  There are times that I can sit down in front of the computer and dash off 1000 words like Usain Bolt headed for the finish line but for the most part I’ll go sit to write and … nothing.  Just … nothing! 😱  Don’t get me wrong, during the early hours of the morning when normal people are deep in dreamland I’ll lie and think of all the ways I can take my story forward, grow my characters, solve their internal conflict so I know I’m capable of coming up with something.  But in the harsh, cold light of morning not a thought remains in my sleep deprived brain and not even copious amounts of coffee can resurrect these stone dead ideas.

I’ve come to accept that writing is never going to be the easy, effortless endeavour that I naively imagined it to be back in my long gone youth and I’m okay with that because I know that it is immensely worth every tear cried during this painful birthing process to hear a respected fellow author tell you:  “You have a natural storytelling talent”.  When a reader tells you that they thoroughly enjoyed the story and found your characters relatable. 😍  The holy grail of writing.

You also learn coping mechanisms to get past the loss of inspiration … the dreaded writer’s block.  These are my top 10 ways of getting over, under, around or past that blank white page on a computer screen.

  1. Music. Particularly music videos.  I find that the storyline of a music video can feed the inspiration machine if I’m battling with a scene.
  2. Walking away.  Since my budget doesn’t stretch to replacing my computer at regular intervals, like every two weeks or so, it’s best to go outside into the garden, just sit in silence and solitude (although the dogs don’t think that’s a legitimate thing) and soak in all that is the magnificence of Mother Nature.  In the uninhibited beauty of nature my mind can find silence and the quiet whispers on inspiration can finally be heard.
  3. Talking to fellow authors.  I am blessed to have some of the most awesome ladies in my life who have been there, done that and burned the t-shirt.  They are an enormous font of inspiration and plot solving ideas.
  4. Reading other people’s work.  There are only so many life situations that one can write about.  However, in having said that no two people will approach how to deal with or write about it in the same way.  Still, reading what someone else has written spark ideas of my own.
  5. Meditation.  My mind is constantly in 6th gear, flat out, all cylinders firing.  It is seldom quiet, nor orderly.  The chaos that rages in my brain seems to quiet on rare occasions, like when I’m enjoying some time out in nature or when I am in the meditation zone.  There are many occasions that I’m unable to find that zone but when I do, the silence is my reward and I am able to focus singularly on finding my muse.
  6. Now, on this point please don’t judge me … I do not suffer with multiple personality disorder, I am simply a writer (or at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😁).  I talk to my characters … and sometime they even answer me. 😱
  7. Pinterest … the rabbit hole!  I have to be careful with this one as it can suck you in and suddenly you realise that three hours have passed and nothing’s been written.  It’s a fabulously mindless way to spend time outside of your head and thoughts though.
  8. Plot boards.  My need of structure and planning demands that I plot, not pants (aka wing it) my story, everything from characters and plot to scene planning and personality quirks.  Someone once warned me not to overthink things and that’s good advice but no structure at all just stresses me way the hell out.  I’ve tried writing like that a time or two and it turned out to be more stressful than it was worth.
  9. A change of scenery.  When my paternal grandmother was alive I used to her take out and about (that was our thing).  She was one spritely old duck and loved to go places, always the first one up for an adventure.  We’d go off to a coffee shop, order something decadent to enjoy over a cup of tea and then sit people watching.  To this day I love to people watch (thanks Gran 💗) .  I am deeply fascinated by the interaction of people – a husband and wife arguing over her buying yet another [insert object] that is simply not needed, a couple in the throws of a new relationship, parents with young children dashing helter skelter all over the mall.  Elixir of Inspiration for a writer.
  10. Write in a collaborative space.  Being part of a writers organisation has brought benefits too many to mention.  One of the ones I love most is getting together for a day of writing with the fabulous ladies that form a part of my local chapter.  We’ll get together in the morning, have a general gabfest to catch each other up on our lives, who’s doing what, who’s writing what and on and on.  Then we’ll knuckle down and get some writing down.  Ideas are thrown hither and thither around the room, advise is sought, suggestions are given and the muse is fed to gluttony.  Sometimes it’s just better writing in a group than in solitary confinement.

There is very little to rival the feeling of being “in the zone” when it comes to writing.  When you end a writing day seeing that the word count has jumped substantially.  But most of all, seeing the pleasure your writing brings to others.  And that, my friends, is why I push through the block to find inspiration anyway which way I can.  Because life is better with a little romance.

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