Tag Archives: writing inspiration

Writer’s Block? Maybe It’s Time to Declutter

This morning I should be writing. I want to write. There’s a novel that’s dying to leap onto the page. I’m sitting here in the kitchen at table. A sky is beautiful outside. The birds are singing. My pen is poised over the paper ready to strike at any moment. And. . .

Nothing!

Not one single, solitary thing.

The pen and paper repel each other like oil and water, together in proximity but not in spirit. I can see the characters. I know the beginning and the ending. I even know most of the middle which for me is often the trickiest part. But the words won’t come. I’m stuck in quicksand and don’t know exactly where to begin. So how can I work my way out of this momentary lapse into writer’s block? It’s obvious the current path I’m on isn’t working. Time to change course a bit, I think.

I read about a trick some years ago in which a well published author suggested mentally opening up your character’s medicine cabinet. What do they have hidden in there and why? Not having a medicine cabinet in my home, I’ve modified that trick somewhat. I often dig through their junk drawer. You know the one I mean. That one drawer in the kitchen that’s crammed full of trinkets and what-nots that no one can exactly remember acquiring. There’s a box of matches in there from a long ago vacation to the mountains and a light bulb for over the stove. You find a bottle opener which used to play your college team’s fight song but now it only putters out a few miserable notes. And my personal favorite, mismatched birthday candles from parties past, leftovers from an eight piece packet bought for a six year old’s cake. The items are endless and there’s a story for each one. A uniquely individual story that helps paint a picture of who your character truly is.

Today, I have decided to let my mind wander a bit further. Thinking back to this past weekend when I was cleaning out some boxes in my garage, I decide to repeat the exercise with my character. The old box of photos she finds. A box full of books, very technical manuals from the age long before internet surfing. And last, but certainly not least, a Hawaiian floral shirt in vibrant orange and yellow.

It may be that I never use any of this. But it provides an important back story for my character and more importantly it gives me an opening with which to begin writing again. For me, this little trick works wonders. So please pardon me while I go and explore why this uptight teacher has a grass skirt hidden away in the back of her garage. I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere.

Happy writing!!

Time or Inspiration?

propiska-a-notes-cernobilaI always knew that one day I wanted to be a writer. Even in my youth when I dreamt of doing everything under the sun, I could always see the day when my name was on the cover of a novel. Today, that dream is a reality.

For many years, though, I struggled with writing. I had tons of ideas, some good, quite a few bad, and even a handful that were downright horrible. Yet, I was never able to actually put pen to paper long enough to complete anything worth reading. I’d fiddle around with a beginning to a story. Maybe I’d jot down a few passages from the middle of another. Very rarely, I’d sit down and write the ending to anything.

I didn’t have the time to write.

Like so many other would-be writers, I didn’t have the time to devote to my craft. I owned a business, was a wife, a mother, and managed the day-to-day affairs of a household. I took the kids to the dentist. I took the cats to the vet. I shopped for groceries. In short, I did what countless of other novelists do on a daily basis yet they still found time to pursue their dreams of writing.

I couldn’t because I was too busy.

And then things changed. The economy tanked. My business closed. I got divorced. We lost everything and had to start completely over. Our family went through a financial and emotional upheaval. It was an abysmal time to say the least.

But something happened during that process. At rock bottom, at my very lowest point, when those who I thought were friends were nowhere to be found and I was alone, I began to hear that still, small voice in my mind. Stories began to form in a way I’d never experienced before. There had always been a dull drone in the back of my mind where ideas and characters went to die a slow and forgotten death. Yet now, it was as though I could finally hear, in crystal clear detail, what they’d been trying to say all those years.

I began to jot down some ideas. Slowly at first. It had been so long since I’d actually written anything that I wasn’t even sure how to begin. Initially I would describe something or someone. A simple, short paragraph. Nothing overly impressive. Certainly nothing worthy of publication. Then I saw two characters, two ladies, as clear as the noon day sky. I saw everything they were doing. I could hear they conversation. It was like watching a feature length movie.

I had no choice but to write.

In less than four months, I’d written their story completely. My first novel. I had given birth to my first full length manuscript! That single accomplishment meant more to me than any of the business accolades I’d ever received. It meant more to me than owning a business. It felt as though I’d successfully climbed Mount Everest!

And in a way I had. I’d overcome my biggest obstacle in life. By every definition, I was the single biggest failure you could imagine but through it all, I had survived and found my voice.

Today, I can’t imagine NOT writing. It’s almost a compulsion. I have to do it. Even though I’m still a mother, I still have to work, I still have to run a household, I still have to go to appointments and cook dinner. I haven’t gained any extra time in the day. I have 24 hours just like everyone else.

Looking back at the differences in my life now versus where I was a few years ago, I realize how much happier I am today than I was back then. I had let everyone else’s expectations and desires drown out my own inner voice. I had followed other people’s dreams down a path I didn’t want to be on. I had stayed in a marriage that should have ended far sooner than it did. I was miserable.

I didn’t abandon my writing because I had no time. I abandoned my writing because I let my misery drown out my voice. I wasn’t inspired to write. I wasn’t inspired to do anything. I was merely muddling through life on a predetermined trajectory. Once I was finally out from under that weight, my writer’s voice came back with a vengeance.

I can’t say that there’s an easy answer to the ‘time’ issue of writing. I certainly wish I had more time to write than I do. I still struggle with making deadlines and meeting my expectations of when a project should be finished. I am far from the perfect example of time management skills.

But now I find myself squeezing in time to write wherever I can find it. I’ll jot down ideas or story sections while waiting at my son’s orthodontist appointment. I’ll scribble frantically on those little paper place mats in a restaurant. I actively look for interesting ideas that might make a good story in the future.

Finding time is easy once you find your inspiration. Once you find your voice.

I sincerely hope that no one goes through the pain and turmoil that my family and I went through. In the end, it turned out for the best. I’ve been able to follow my dreams. I’m building a new life that I love. I’m happy. I’ve found my inspiration and my voice. But it was fraught with agony. I’m sure there should have been a less dramatic way for me to learn some of those lessons although I know that I was probably too hard-headed to listen.

I do, however, hope that all those who eventually hope to write take a few minutes to truly examine what is really holding them back. Is it actually a lack of time or have you created a life that denies your writer’s voice to shine through? Are you truly inspired to get up every morning and write? Are you willing to slog through the difficult times of novel writing because you know the story you’re telling must be told?

There’s no right or wrong answer to that question. We each have our own lives to lead and must find our own path to happiness. I encourage you to make sure that path you’re traveling on is actually one of your own choosing.

Best Wishes and Happy Writing!