“YOU CAN’T WAIT FOR INSPIRATION, YOU HAVE TO GO AFTER IT WITH A CLUB.” -JACK LONDON
When I was little I used to hear about this thing from writers and artists called a MUSE. The way people talked about it, it felt like some kind of mystical thing, like a sparkly ghost that flew into your brain and shook inspiration into your brain, like pixie dust. It was a fickle creature who showed up when it wanted and people were always wishing for its magic power to visit them. At first I thought I had to wait for this mystical creature but then I decided I didn't want to wait for a muse I wanted to write.
What is a Muse?
I turned to the usual sources to find out. A quick google search came up with this definition. A muse is in Greek or Roman one of the 9 goddesses that presides over art or science.
Okay that's pretty cool. But it didn't match what I'd heard since I was small. So I looked again. This time I just looked for a definition of muse in google. This is what turned up; Muse is a spirit or source that inspires an artist.
Now we are talking. It is something that inspires people. I liked that, but I wasn't sure how much I wanted to trust a google definition, so I turned to my favorite dictionary. Merriam-Webster. www.merriam-webster.com
As usual in dictionaries there wasn't just one simple definition but three. The first under muse was; to become absorbed in thought. (verb) The next was if it was used as a noun.1. A state of deep thought or dreamy abstraction. The next there were also nouns 1.capitalized : any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences 2.a source of inspiration 3. A poet
What I gathered from my quick research was that a Muse wasn't a mystical ghost like creature full of pixie dust. People talked about it like they would a fairy or a dragon or a mystical goddess. What I learned is when people are talking about their muse they are talking more about inspiration. When I first started writing I thought I had to wait for this mystical Muse to show up and bless my life with it's magical dust, but later on I learned if I wanted to write I just had to sit down and do it. If you want to write you can't wait around you have as it says in the quote, go after it! Fight for it.
Sometimes inspiration will hit in the funnest of moments, in the shower, while mowing the lawn, while doing the dishes, or driving your car, from a dream, or from reading other peoples work. Those moments are fantastic, they are special they are amazing but if we only write when those special moments come then we will find it harder to get things done.
If you are someone who needs their muse, or who feels like they must have things set in order to feel inspired to write then make sure you set that up. For some it is a certain kind of music, for others it is quiet. We are all different when it comes to how we like to write and what will help our words flow.
Ways to feel inspired to write without waiting for your muse:
1. Go get some exercise that will get your endorphin going. I know I love to think about backstory while walking or on a treadmill. I will also problem solve when I am moving. I find that for me it really helps.
2. Turn on some music, see if it can help you get in the zone. I know that I have a power song that can help me get moving when I feel sluggish.
3. Do chores that don't require a lot of thought. You can brainstorm while mopping the floor, hand washing dishes or mowing the lawn. It's a great use of your time.
4. Do a 5 minute writing sprint to warm up. You can write about your story or use a random prompt but this is like reaving your engine and getting you ready to write.
5. Read something that inspires you.
6. Watch something that inspires you.
7. Read a motivational quote, that makes you feel like you can do it.
8. Get your favorite snack and a comfy chair, set the feeling you need to write.
9. Challenge yourself. You can't do X until you write X amount of words... etc.
10. Try a writing prompt.
11. Spend some time interviewing one of your characters.
12. If you already have a cover for your book, print it out and post it above your writing space. Make it a goal to see pages under that cover and give yourself a deadline.
13. Read a book about writing. This never fails for me. I get story idea after story idea when I read a writing book.
14. Spend some time on Pinterest finding pictures of your setting or clothing to help you get excited and ready to write. Just don't get lost here and forget to get your words down.
15. Talk on the phone with someone you trust about your story idea. Chances are you'll feel resaved up and ready to write after that kind of conversation.
The tall and short of it is guys is that sometimes we have magical moments where the muse hits us (aka inspiration) and sometimes we have to set the stage ourselves and fight a bit to get the words coming. One way or another you can write. Don't wait around for the time to come to you, make the time to write yourself.
Thanks for reading today's post and happy writing!!
If you can't see it, we can't see it. I know sometimes we can get all excited about the scene we have figured out or the wicked dialogue we have planned, but we have to make sure we ground our reader. We have to show them where they are. What it looks like. We need to paint a picture but do it quickly. Readers now a days don't want to read three pages about the setting but they still want to know what it looks like and where they are. If you don't know what your setting really looks like for that scene, take a moment to close your eyes and see it. We won't need all the details you see but find the most important ones to give us what we need.
For example: If you are writing a scene that takes place in an apartment. What makes that apartment unique? Is it really clean, a pig sty, is it fancy full of modern furniture, or is it full of weird looking glass bottles. It could be a pretty regular apartment but we need to know that too, but then we'd want to know is it big or small? Is there something that stands out about it to help us imagine what you are imagining. If you see a dirty green couch next to a high end glass table, we need to see it too. These details tell us about the character who lives there and gives us a sense of place. We can then properly visualize where they are and what that might mean for the story.
READ, READ, READ and READ some more!As a writer reading is very important. I used to think that I couldn't read and write at the same time and so I was usually only doing one or the other for an extended amount of time. I have since learned that I need to make sure I am trying to do both. For one I miss the other when I am working on one. For two; how can I create books without reading them? Reading and writing go hand in hand. Below are the reasons why you should always Read, even while writing.
WHY READ? Because it will help you grow as a writer!
In your Genre:
Every Genre has different rules, and story beats that readers expect. Without reading in your genre it will be hard for you to know all of those beats and structure that readers expect for that specific genre. Also you can learn what kind of stories are already out there. Sometime a book can help you figure out where you are stuck in your story. And its fun to read the genre that you love so much! I am a multi genre author and I used to think that all stories were created equal, that a suspense, a fantasy and a romance were all created the same way. Then I started learning about story beats and wow there is a difference my friends.
Out of your Genre:
These books can help increase your story sense. They can build your idea of story worlds and open your eyes to new genre's you never thought you would love! I used to only read fantasy and fairy tale, but then I read some paranormal, Regency romance and then contemporary romance. I would never have tried these genre's in the past but now I have learned how much I love all of these different kinds of stories. This broden's your horizons, opens up new possibilities, and opens new stories worlds for you to venture into. You can also learn what you don't like and why.
There is always so much more to learn. After reading many writing books you will discover that a lot of them say the same thing but usually there is always something new in each one. It is great review for the things they say the same and they all have great ah ha moments for the new stuff. I am trying hard to read a bunch this year. I have 5 under my belt since January but I would like to get a few more. Learning and growing your skill is invaluable and sooooo important.
It is important to know what is being published right now. The demand for certain books ebbs and flows like a title wave. The demand for certain books grows until the market is saturated and then publishers and readers are looking for the next best thing. If you are ready to send out a book to an agent or publisher it would be wise to see what is coming out right now or on the coming out soon lists.
Read the classic's. We don't write books like they used to and that is mostly a good thing, we don't like pages and pages of description but try to figure out why the classic's are still read today. What makes them lasting, and how can you translate that aspect into your own writing. I know when I decided that I wanted to write a book with vampires that I had to read Dracula, its just one of those things that have to be done. Still working on that book but hopefully it won't be to long before I can get it written the way I want it.
Read to your kids:
Kids love it when parents read to them. You can totally count a novel read to them as a book read on your own goals. I am loving reading , Ella Enchanted to my oldest girl. We can only read a chapter or s scene a night but its awesome one on one time and the time might be shortchanged but it totally counts.
Your own writing:
After writing your manuscript make sure to try and read it at least once as a reader. See if you are board anywhere or if there is a part that makes you swoon or laugh or cry. Pay attention to how it reads and if it feels like the books that you enjoy so much. If so you are on the right track.
Reading is so important, I hope that you can find time to read even if it is a little bit. If you are having a hard time finding time check out my tips below.
TIPS FOR THOSE WHO DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME TO READ!
1. Read on your phone
2. Read while your kids are watching their favorite movie for the 27th time.
3. Always have a book with you for those times when you randomly need to pass the time.
4. Read in the pick up line, while waiting for the doctor or dentist or other appointments.
5. Go pick up your kids fifteen minutes early so you can get a little reading time.
6. Read while cooking dinner. (I do this all the time! Yes, I have used a hot pad as a bookmark, ha ha)
7. Plan a reading date night with your hubby or boyfriend/girlfriend.
8. Read in the car (if you can handle it. I read and write in the car on longer drives all the time.)
9. Get audio books and listen while doing other house chores, running, showering, or commuting to work.
10. Make a reading goal for the year on goodreads. It so helps to have a place to keep track of the books you've read and the ones you want to read next. I find having a goal on goodreads keeps me picking up books, I don't like seeing myself behind on my reading goals.
11. Read before you go to sleep at night.
12. If you write middle-grade, YA, poems, or picture books and they are appropriate for your kids age groups then read them to your kids. It's good time spent with them and you get your reading in too.
PLEASE REVIEW: If you read a book and liked it please write a review on amazon, goodreads, etc. authors need reviews and we would love to have a review from a reader like you!
Thanks for reading and happy writing!
Cassie M. Shiels
Just like in any other job, writers get burnt out. Being creative is the way our brain works but sometimes we hit the bottom of our creative barrel and we need to recharge. Sometimes we hit what writers like to call writers block. Ah this is so stressful!!! Especially when we want to move forward with our story and we are feeling like we have nothing to write other than. I hate this, or what are words? First of all don't feel like you are a bad writer if this happens to you. It happens to us all. Secondly don't give up. Remember, "Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it!" ~Anne of Green Gables~ You might feel like hitting your head against your laptop or notebook today, but that doesn't mean it's time to quit all together.
10 Tips to beat Writers Block!
1. Do a task that requires a minimal part of your brain, and think through the spot of your story that you are stuck at. Something like hand washing dishes, mowing the lawn or taking a shower work great.
2. Refill your writers bucket by reading a book that is NOT the same Genre you are writing but you still enjoy a lot. It can be a novel you love or a new book or even a book you are beta reading for another author.
3. Refill your writers bucket by reading a book that IS in your Genre. Pay attention to the story beats and see if it can clue you into what you might need to do next.
4. Take a trusted friend out to lunch and hash out the part of the story you are stuck on. A phone call also works, but it's less fun.
5. Spend a hour on pintrest looking up clothes your character would wear, the environment they are in, the costume or ball gown, or weapon they need soon. Use the time to build excitement for writing not as an excuse for why you're not writing.
6. Watch one of your favorite T.V. shows. Laugh, relax and then think about why you love it. Can you use that element in your story? Spend a few minutes writing about that.
7. Play the What If... game (also fun with a friend) Think of the silliest, craziest, scariest, funnest things that could happen next. Not only is it fun but you'll probably find your answer.
8. Do a timed write exercise. Set your timer for 20 to 30 minutes and write about whats wrong, where you need to get too and all the ways you could force your characters in that direction. If that feels to long 10 minutes is absolutely acceptable too!
9. Make your favorite desert. Something that when sitting there is super hard to resist. Then reward yourself for writing a chapter or a certain large word count by earning some of the desert. #motivation
10. TAKE a bubble bath and relax. Ask yourself questions about your characters background and why they are the way they are now. Two good things comes from this. More knowledge about your characters and sometimes something you learn about them will help you with where you are feeling stuck
***BONUS: Search for a song that represents your book or character and play it before you sit down to write
***BONUS 2: Let the stress of the block fade into the back ground. Go to bed. Wake up, exercise, eat something filling, drink a large glass of water, stretch then sit down to write with your favorite music. Get yourself feeling good, with endorphins pumping thorough you and go for it!
I hope you find these helpful.
Good luck and happy writing!
Truth: You can start writing a book without really knowing who your character is and how they need to change, but... will you write the right book for them? Even if you are a discovery writer it helps to spend at least a little time thinking about who your character is, what they want, what they need, how they act and how their life needs to change. If you are a plotter or a planster spend some time writing things down about your character. You will be glad you did!
Writing as a mom isn't always easy