How does a writer find inspiration? Where do they go for help when the brain (or body) just refuses to cooperate?
I have a strategy. I write up a few (dozen) titles and associated beat sheets. Most are never going to be more than those notes. I use it as a form of inspiration, to get the creative juices flowing.
It’s not working. Not this time. I’ve been off the keys for two weeks due to ‘flu, and now my arms are braced (golfer’s elbow for someone who hasn’t touched a stick in decades!) – it’s really hard to see the screen when it’s so far away! – and my mind will not kick in. It refuses to play the game.
I need to get back to work. I think about things for the current WIP, and normally those thoughts would have me at the computer, writing it down, following the threads of that thought through the veins of the story. I keep thinking of these things.
But not writing.
The next thing was to do one of the things to put myself out there, because once you’re out there, you have to produce the goods, don’t you? I think it’s a requirement. Don’t advertise unless you’ve got stuff available is what I say. Finished it and sat down with the WIP open.
Nothing happened. The garden beckoned, and I think the only thing that stopped me was the knowledge of how painful my body would be if I did so much as watered the pots. But I sat there, mesmerised by the sun and birds (splendid wrens!) and not looking at the computer.
It took a while to drag my eyes back to the purpose for the day. To write at least one scene, or if that failed, to edit at least one scene.
Oh, come on! Do it! There’s no venom on a keyboard, there’s no pain (oh, wait – not enough pain to stop) in typing. Just do ten words. Twenty. Okay, how about one? Just one word … please.
Guess what happened?
I came here, wandered the streets of the blogosphere, chatted and read, giggled and laughed, but didn’t come back home in time for tea (or work).
I paid a bill. I got a treat out for the dog and went outside with her to sit in the sun.
I didn’t add to the WIP.
And then I considered what I would say to one of the fosters if they were in the same position. What would I say? Honesty may be required here.
It doesn’t matter if you trash it tomorrow, it only matters that you do it today.
It’s not a finished product, it’s a product in the middle of a process. A beginning, not an end.
It takes doing it to relearn how much you love it. Do a new version so you know it doesn’t matter if it’s crap.
Okay. Done. I edited one scene. I wrote 2,500 words. It took a few hours, and I missed a phone call because I was too wrapped up in what I was doing to get up fast enough to get it (but I let it ring out because some things are more important than phones).
I look forward to tomorrow, even though I know I’m going to delete those words. They were the key to get back into that mind-shape.
That’s all. Promise. Fingers crossed. Touch wood.
And those titles and beat sheets – they were all terrible, completely out of the sphere of stories I like to tell – and that should have told me what my state of mind was. But they were work, they were writing work, and I hope they lit the spark enough that it comes back on automatically tomorrow.