Inspiration can be a fickle entity. As anyone who works creatively will tell you, there are times when everything seems to flow, and ideas come one after another. Most of us would give anything to be in that sweet spot all the time. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. There are just as many times when nothing seems to be work, and you feel like you’re climbing a cliff face using nothing more than your fingernails. You can make progress, but it’s tough and slow. My post today is more of a diary entry than anything, but hopefully you’ll gain a little more of an understanding of me as a writer because of it.
For me, inspiration is not a frustrating part of the writing process. When I have an outline and a place to go, the writing usually goes smoothly, for the most part. There are always hesitations, such as how to start out a specific scene, or struggles to find the perfect word. At times, I’ll come up with better ideas as I’m writing, and I’ll go with them. Regardless, the writing doesn’t usually give me too many problems.
It’s outlining that usually gives me fits. I’ve learned through the years of experience that not having an outline is a bad idea. I have an indefatigable ability to extrapolate, and if I don’t tightly rein it in, I can end up with a thousand-page manuscript that goes nowhere. Besides, it’s always a good idea to know where you’re going when you start a journey. You wouldn’t drive to New York without your trusty GPS guiding you along the way, or you might end up in Inuvik. (I bet there are a bunch of you going to Google to find out where the heck Inuvik is!)
But outlining does not come easy to me. I’ve been known to sit and stare at a Word document for hours, discarding ideas left and right because none of them seem to work. Or I have no ideas at all. I have a tough time finding a middle ground. That’s why I always try to keep ahead of the game. If I have a couple of outlines sitting around, I always have something to write when whatever I’m working on is complete.
And starting an outline is the worst. Case in point, I’ve had this idea that’s been in the back of my mind for a year or two now. I know the overall idea of the story, and I have a couple of ideas of events, but I’ve never figured out how I want to approach it. That’s where we swing back to the original topic of inspiration, and how crazy it can sometimes be.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a sucker for classical music. I grew up with it, as it’s all my mom listens to. Lately, I was listening to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, and almost unbidden, I got this image of Elizabeth playing it and Darcy listening to her. And suddenly it was there. I now know how to approach it, and though I still have some hard work slogging through the outline, I now know how to go about it.
I get my inspiration through a lot of crazy ways: dreams, random thoughts when my mind is on something else, innocuous words spoken by others. The shower has always been a particularly fertile place to get ideas, for some reason. Like I said, it’s crazy, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it.
If there are any new authors reading this—and if I haven’t lost everyone, because you’re all wondering what’s the deal with this boring post—my advice would be to never give up, even if seems like you’re going nowhere. Look for inspiration in unlikely places. You never know where or when you’ll be inspired!
I have a couple of announcements to make. The first is that my next work is scheduled for release on March 22. It will be called “Mr. Darcy’s Illness” and it’s a novella, much shorter than my usual offering. Further details and the cover reveal to follow on the Facebook page.
The second is that my writing partner, Lelia Eye, and I will be launching our new and improved blog within the next couple of months. I have no details on the launch date yet, but it should be sometime this spring. The URL is aglimmerofgold.com, and in it we plan to post about such subjects as writing, book and film reviews, excerpts, giveaways, and other assorted items. And whatever we write about, we promise there will always be A Glimmer of Gold to be found within, even if it’s something we don’t really like! More details to follow.