Writer, Need Inspiration? Here Are Three Ways To Get It

If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve been there – the dark forest of writing.

There are no words here, no progress, only suffocating doubt and self-loathing. Every writer has experienced this before and just when we think this feeling will never surface it’s ugly face again, there it is.

Getting stuck is easy.

Stopping halfway through a book is normal.

But how do you get unstuck?

Are there elements that a writer can incorporate into their life so that these valleys are few and not as dark and deep?

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Yes. Here are three ways to get inspired again. These will also reinforce the writer that is on the mountaintop of inspiration.

FIND A SCENIUS

Austin Kleon is a connector. He repackages ideas and makes them accessible. One of his ideas is described in his book Show Your Work!. It is the idea of Scenius

He claims that the lone genius myth is just that, falsehood. Writers, artists, and anyone that has achieved any level of success did that inside a community that fostered the pursuit.

Find a group of people that love writing and hang out with them. Online, in a bookstore, or come to the Jot Conference.

IF IT’S NOT WORKING DO DIFFERENTLY

Ever stop to examine your process? Ever come to the same worn out and unproductive conclusions after writing in the same place, with the same utensils, at the same time? Sounds like it’s time for you to make a change. 

Get up early or stay up late. Go for a walk and sit on a mossy log and write using physical instruments – paper and pen.

I was in the dark depths of writing for a while, then I began rising early and suddenly, even though I knew I was done as a writer, the passion for words flooded back. 

Often we need a break from monotony. A newness, a freshness to reinvigorate us on the writing road. Doing differently is a shock to the creative system.

CREATE MARGIN

We’re all busy. It’s the response to the question – how are you doing? Busy we say. Everyone has too much to do. Too many obligations. Too many service projects. Too many organizations to which we are committed. There is little time for joy, thrill, and novelty. Our weeks are planned out and we are sleeping five hours a night.

Most of the activities listed above are not bad things – save maybe the five hours of sleep a night – but we all need space. Our bodies need down time to rest and our brains and creativity wells need the same.

During a difficult season at my job where satisfaction was at an all time low I decided to incorporate a walk into my lunch. I grabbed a pen and notebook and began walking in the woods. I’d sit down on a bench, stare into the dark green forest or bare trees and snow covered earth and let the ideas come. I’d write them down if I thought they were worth keeping and sharing.

Don’t believe a walk is beneficial? C.S. Lewis loved walks. As did T.S. Eliot. It’s the white space where our brains rest and ideas can surface.

Today, if you need a little writing pick me up, I challenge you to find your own Scenius, do differently, or create some margin by saying no to one obligation this week.

Do you have tips for getting inspired? Share below.

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Top Blog Posts From 2015

I love getting the yearly report from WordPress.com about my website traffic, top posts, and yearly insights. The most interesting part to me is the top five blog posts. The reason? Its a thread informing me what people coming to this little corner on the web are interested in.

Here are the top five posts in order. Some of these may be familiar to you, one may not be. It’s from 2012 and is still one of my top posts year after year.

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1. Why You Should Keep Writing Despite A Full House (2015) – This post was about the birth of my fourth child and why it’s important for kids to see their parents pursuing their passions. (Click HERE to read it)

2. Are You A Writer Or Interested In Writing? Come to Jot (2015)- Jot is the free writers conference my writing group The Weaklings hosts around West Michigan. If you live in Michigan or even northern Indiana, check out this post. (Click HERE to read it)

3. Worldbuilding 101- Let’s Build a World Together (2015) – This is part of my workshop on building nominal worlds. I’ve taught it at two separate writers conferences. It’s strange to type that but I love that I’ve had that opportunity. (Click HERE to read it)

4. Use Dialogue to Advance Your Plot (2012) – This post is from 2012 and is still one of my top blogs. I plan to clean it up a bit and make it stronger to add more value to those to keep coming back to it. As it is from 2012, it’s not a very strong post but I wanted to leave it unedited for now so you may see how this site has changed over the years. (Click HERE to read it)

5.  What Do Your Kids See When You Write? (2015) – I am glad this one made it because this was my favorite post from the year. I write that not because it was wonderfully crafted, but because I lived this post. Read it again. You’ll see why. (Click HERE to read it)

Thanks for making 2015 a great year for Part-Time Novel. Stop by Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for more posts.

Join my email list at the top right of this blog to stay connected.

Live well this year my friends.

Can’t Find The Time To Blog? Create A Blog Checklist

Time. There is never enough of it. As sobering as that is to consider, you and I still have the same amount as Michelangelo, Charles Dickens, Homer, etc., an elusive twenty-four hour block.

And if we want to publisher to consider our work, we need to have a platform AND still have time for our books.

Photo Credit: Auntie P via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Auntie P via Compfight cc

I sacrificed my blog this summer to work on my book because I could not find the time. But after revamping my writing goals, I committed to my platform once again. To do this, I created a game plan and tried to write faster by using a blog checklist.

What is a blog checklist? It’s the essential ingredients to most of my blogs.

  1. Strong opening paragraph, just above the posts image. This may sound prideful but it’s the cornerstone for the rest of the post. This is the hook, the question, or the issue.
  2. Solid image. Not something cheesy or overused or confusing. Just a good photo (I use free images from compfight with proper accreditation) pertaining to this post.
  3. Write in 2-4 sentence paragraphs. Keeps it clean, tight, and readable.
  4. Include personal or relative story. I’m a story teller, so it’s only natural I tell something about myself, family, or closely related story.
  5. Include Interlinks, I try to include at least one, this will help readers connect your ideas and get more familiar with your content.
  6. Closing statement, challenge, or call to action.

I put together this post in about forty minutes. A year ago it would have taken about an hour. This comes with practice and making sure you have a system, however, no system fits all.

If you have tips or tricks to write faster content please share below. I hope you find this posts helpful and encouraging. That, I hope, is always my intent.

How do you win the blog versus book battle?

My Writing Update

I always think I am going to accomplish more than I do. Ever have that problem? I have a grand plan, a sure fire way to get more writing done, then I forget about something else that steals time.

Though I traveled for work from Monday through Thursday evening this past week, I got little writing done on my novel, however, something exciting happened. I was asked to lead a workshop about Worldbuilding at a writing conference in October.

I’ll be prepping for the Breathe Conference, the Jot Conference talk about blogging in a few weeks, and trying to get a few short stories out in between. We’ll see.

Below is a recap of my weekly blogs. Please review if you missed anything!

Photo Credit: :ray via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: :ray via Compfight cc

On Monday, it was crazy talk. I wrote about how we critique ourselves into pretzels even before we try our hand at writing, launching a business, or any creative pursuit.

On Tuesday it was a question about our blogging platforms. Do you blog for stats or do you blog with a message?

Wednesday it was family time. I wrote about how my daughter wrote with marker on my desk and how it made me tear up. Wonder why? Read it!

Motivation is a hard thing to get once it’s gone. On Thursday it was all about sequestering one bad day so it does not become a bad week, month, or year.

We all have unexpected things that come up that create the fight or flight emotions to rise up within us. I talk about 5 things I learned from an unexpected challenge in Friday’s post.

Ever day dream about doing something but never actually do it? In this post I challenge you to stop thinking about it and start acting on it.

Write well this week.

Let me know what you think of this past week’s post below.

Its Time To Tell Your Self Critique Voice To Shut It

I can be crazy. In fact, I’ll prove it.

On a trip to Florida a few years back, my wife and I stayed in a condo with my parents, grandmothers, and brother. We were surprising my other brother for his birthday and had flown down from Michigan.

When I sleep there cannot be any rhythmic noises or my mind will catch the beat and I’ll subsequently stay awake.

Thus when some crazy animal started mewing or barking (it sounded like both) at three in the morning it was annoying. By three fifteen I was growing angry and by three thirty I was marching across the parking lot, rock in hand to put an end to the creature. I tossed rocks into a forest until the bird/animal/little devil flew off to annoy someone else.

Yeah, that crazy. But I slept like a babe from four until seven.

As in the example above, we also carry these bird squawks or something similar in our minds. They are deadly to our creativity, living in the vary place our art comes from. And they offer a constant nagging of how unrealistic our dreams are.

Ever try to write or start to write a business plan and begin to get defeated right away? How many times even before we begin we start to think of why we shouldn’t attempt to try ___ in the first place – money, time, family obligations, work, and anything else march across our mind like a mariachi band.

There is something to learn from my manic story above. The next time your inner voice starts to sound the alarm, grab some rocks, snip the chord, pull out the batteries, and stuff proverbial cotton balls in your ears. Tell your inner critique to shut their mouth.

It might be impossible right now to be a New York Times Bestseller. But if we stop ourselves before we begin we may never know where the journey may take us.

10 Ways To Get Your Blog Back On Track

Blogging can be exciting in the beginning. Then, out of nowhere, we hit a plateau. It’s at this point we can make a decision to either give up or dig in.

Below I list ten ways to get your blog back on track. If you are struggling, try a few of these methods. They also work if you are just starting out.

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Photo Credit: Cappellmeister via Compfight cc

Know who you are. If you are a fantasy writer, don’t write about pollution. If you are not a professional don’t write posts about how to make it. You are constructing your own platform and if you are not true to who you are or what you write it’ll be hard to find someone that will listen.

Know your audience. Speak to your audience’s condition. If you are speaking to the sci-fi fantasy crowd or talking about the joys and perils of retirement, know what is relevant and helpful to that demographic.

Follow the leader. There’s bound to be a blogger who is further along than you. They may even have blazed the trail to exactly where you want to go. Watch them closely. Learn what they do best.

Be consistentpost time, topic, etc. If you are writing a literary blog, don’t talk about Fifty Shades of Grey. If you are writing about gardening, don’t weigh in on the latest about Kim Kardashian. Unless she is gardening and maybe not even then. Consistency is key. If you post consistently your audience will begin to anticipate when fresh content is available and they will be waiting.

Be mindful of details. Recently most fonts were opened on the theme I use. Don’t think that’s such a big deal? I recently read that some fonts are considered prudish and untrustworthy. Yes. Fonts. So, do your research and understand that even the mundane tweak can mean a lot.

Write ahead. If you have a busy life where time can be sucked into a black hole in a moment’s notice, this is key. Look for spots to fit writing in and if you are writing ahead you will be prepared for whatever life event may suddenly arise.

Commit to the relaunch mental battle. Commitment can require us to cast off what is natural. Sleep, time with friend, work, etc. If you are doing a re-launch be sure your mind is ready for the fight. Know that trials will happen and nothing worth doing is easy.

Set personal goals you can reach but are a bit of a stretch.  This will vary from person to person depending on the season of life. You may post once a week, every day, or twice a month.

Set launch a date. Set a hard deadline for the relaunch of your blog. Build it to look professional, write ahead, and then bam, go live. You can tweek the minor things later.

Connect social media widgets and let your friends know! This is key. Find people who can support you. No writer can keep going in a vacuum. We need people. Your friends and family are most likely going to champion your work.

Blogger, get a clear vision, look for ways to improve and then jump. Even if it feels uncomfortable.

My Writing Update

This past week I’ve had a writing renaissance. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to lately.

Photo Credit: rsmithing via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: rsmithing via Compfight cc

I’ve been consistently writing on the Jot Conference website for the past few months in an attempt to see if I could get passionate about blogging again. It was a struggle. But this past week, after revamping the theme and some widgets here at Part-Time Novel, I relaunched this blog. It’s not perfect, but this past week I’ve wrote nine posts here and two more at jotwritersconference.com a total of about 3000 words.

Books

I worked on a book series for over a decade and decided to set it on the shelf. Then I started a new book, but I’m not going to share details about it yet. I have completed about 50 pages so far and hope to have a rough draft between now and the next Jot Conference (September 12th). I wrote about 1500 words on it this week.

Speaking

The Jot Conference is moving to Three Rivers in September. I will be speaking about blogging basics and how it can help you in your writing career.

The Coming Weeks 

You can follow my posts on creativity, writing tips, and, chasing your dream job here and also on the Jot Writer’s Conference website. My goal is to write 10,000 words on my book this week and fulfill my blogging goals. Wish me luck.

Not Making Plans Is Still Making Plans

Last week I made no plans to write, I just knew I was going to do it.

You know what I did, don’t you?Television

I watched three NHL games, a documentary on Oak Island (seriously cool), and one on Native American giants. Of course I didn’t watch all of these in one sitting, but the fact is I didn’t make plans to write, so that is exactly what I did. I squandered my free time. It was out there in some nebulous, free flowing time slot which was never filled and I felt miserable for it.

If you’ve wanted to complete a project around your house and just have not gotten around to it, I am sure you can relate. If we don’t make plans, whatever it is we long to do or need to do won’t happen.

Today? I made a mental note. I was going to write before I went to bed. No matter how tired or mentally drained I was, it was going to happen and here we are.

This blog is nothing monumental, but it is. Commitment is one thing. Planning and following through on our commitments another.

If you are a writer and have not written this week, take a moment and schedule some time.

There. Now keep that appointment.

Cheers,

Bob

Blog Battles Book

If you’re a writer and a blogger, this post is for you. If you’re a person and burned out all the time, keep reading too.

Last week, I wrote a blog post Monday through Thursday. Nothing to set the world on fire, but this was and was not a good thing.

The good thing? I was writing.

The not so good thing? I was not writing what I wanted to write – novels.

If you’ve been to a writers conference or talked to a publishing professional before you’ve heard that four letter word ‘platform’. Okay, not a four letter word but it should be. You may have had a conversation that went like this:

Professional – You must have a platform to be a successful writer.

You – Won’t that take all of my writing time? What about the book?

Professional – You need to do both.

You – Uh, I don’t have time.

Professional – Find time.

Not super practical, but true. Of course this is not easy. Half the time I walk around feeling like I am failing at two things simultaneously. You’ve got a family, and a job, and a life, right?

The imperative element to this is balance.

I felt better when I was able to write another chapter of my book. I dropped the post on Friday because I wanted to work on my book. I was burned out on my blog.

The best advice I can give to the blogging writer is to do what you can do. Do one blog post a week or do them Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Find a rhythm and do what works.

But keep writing your book.

Cheers,

Bob

Plan, then Do. Fulfill those Dreams.

So, here we are. It’s Monday, there’s a brand-new week of us. We have the opportunity to fulfill our dreams or to crush them. There’s so much time ahead. We haven’t done anything with it yet. I know some of this time will be filled with work, family obligations, and even more with work around the house. A lot of things will be competing for this time.

Right now it’s unused. And now is the time for a plan. You know what you want to do. I know what I want to do. I want to write. And not just anything. Not just blog posts, or Tweets, or Facebook status updates or comments. I want to write a novel. That is what I want to do.Clock - Spain

Today, aspiring writer, this post is for you. Look ahead. Find the time. This may mean sacrificing sleep or a lunch time. This may be sacrificing hanging out time with friends that are going out to places you love. But remember. Remember what you want to do. That is key. Then plan out your time to make it happen. Do not deviate.

Write well this week. Don’t give up. Look for ways to eliminate distractions or new ways to write as fast as you can!

Cheers,

Bob