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?

coffee cup

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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Why Art Needs Community

Art in community can create extraordinary things. Consider Tolkien’s and Lewis’ Inklings or Hemingway’s’ and Steins’ Stratford-on-Odeon. These are just a couple of writer communities that shaped fiction today.

The conference my writers group puts on twice a year – the Jot Writers Conference – is not earth shattering or genre changing but I’d like to share with you three separate conversations I had. If you were there and have something to share, please do so in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: BMW Guggenheim Lab via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: BMW Guggenheim Lab via Compfight cc

As we finished the sign in portion of the conference and the first speaker was about to begin, I met someone from a local publisher. They were a new establishment and wanted to reached out to our writers group to share the news. They even traveled down from Grand Rapids, where we are from, to connect. This is what conferences are all about. Making friends and connections. If you are in Michigan, connect with them here.

After I finished my presentation about blogging I answered questions and made my way to the back of the room. There I met a woman who said she heard about the conference from a local author who volunteered at the Council on Aging. She asked me what she needed to do to get a blog started.

I was thrilled that someone who is well into retirement was considering something new. If I reach that age, I hope to have that sort of gusto to try new things.

A few writers who attended the Jot Conference in Grand Rapids came to the event in Three Rivers. One of them found me after my talk and said she wanted to shout Amen! as I was speaking. I’m not a preacher but this brief comment meant a lot. Every writer and speaker needs encouragement. This helped boost my confidence for the next time I speak in a few weeks.

I took away many thoughts from Jot that I am still working through. Three of them that I think of now connect with the bite sized stories above. Writing in community can create connections, that it’s never to late to try anything, and that a little encouragement can be just what any writer needs.

I hope you thank those in your community often.

Nothing is built overnight and nothing is built alone.

Have you experienced the joy, encouragement, and comradery in your writers group? Please share below.

Part-Time Novel Turns 4!

I missed it. My blogiversary raced passed with little notice. The good news is I’m still blogging.

Through the last four years I’ve experienced the highest internal highs followed by the lowest internal lows. I knew I was going to have a writing career and I knew I was just not cut out for this life.

Photo Credit: Peter O'Connor aka anemoneprojectors via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Peter O’Connor aka anemoneprojectors via Compfight cc

I’ve also stopped blogging and started again. I’ve help create a writers conference attended by hundreds of people, had coffee with agents, been rejected, and then asked by that very agent to speak at another conference. If you choose to pursue writing, it can be a wild ride.

Reflection gives you perspective and if there is anything I’ve learned it’s two fold. One, that writing, no matter how solitary, requires community. You’ll go crazy and give up without it. So seek out other writers. The other? Patience. It can be a slow life filled with blitzes and surprise requests. That’s the fun part.

So if you are about to give up don’t. Seek council or a trusted friend. Do what you can do today – 50 words, 100 words, and know that the weight of what we do is not contained to one day’s successes or failures. It’s a larger narrative built over years of hard work, discipline, and good friendships.

Here is an excerpt of what my blog was supposed to be about. I’m glad that this still rings true today.

The intention of this blog is to share what I have learned with those who work full time, have children, are otherwise engaged, but still have the wild dream of publishing a novel someday

Write well today and a sincere thanks to you for your encouragement over the years.

It’s meant more than you know.