As writers, we are expected to be a fount of imagination and stories. But even the most prolific writer can come to the well of inspiration and find it dry every now and then.
When you’re a full-time writer, like me, you seem to always be writing, to always be creating, coming up with new ideas and always moving forward. I have friends who are not “big readers” but who follow me on Facebook and see me posting about the projects I’m working on (yes, plural, there’s always more than one). And when I see them in real life they always have a comment like, “I don’t know how you write so much!” The funny thing is, it doesn’t always feel like I’m writing very much.
I take breaks between projects – and sometimes that’s the hardest thing for me to do. I finished a book during Camp NaNo in July, so I took a week and a half off when I was done. I didn’t look at any other project, I didn’t print this last one off to revise, I didn’t touch a legal pad to start a new outline for the next project.
I pulled out my omnibus edition of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Chronicles and started reading it, finally. I went to the bookstore with my mom and picked up a copy of Splintered and started reading it. I sat on my couch and watched TV. I went out to dinner with my husband. I went surfing. I tore out all the dead plants from my garden thanks to this drought. I worked out. I spent time with my dogs.
And you know what? I felt a little guilty. It seemed so decadent not to wake up and go to my desk and start working. It felt strange not to write for so many days in a row. Maybe if we’d gone on vacation it wouldn’t have registered, but because I was home, I felt like I should be writing.
But you know what else happened? My fount of inspiration started to fill again. Glistening waters full of ideas began to bubble up inside of me. Some of you know I just released the sequel to my Paranormal Post-Apocalyptic story last month. Well, I’ve been dreading – DREADING – starting on the final book because I had no idea what was going to happen or how it was going to end. Then, standing in the kitchen in the middle of this self-imposed break, the whole plot struck me like a bolt of lightning and I just knew what was going to happen. My panic totally melted away. Then a few days later I thought of the idea for the fourth book in my other series. And a few days after that I got an idea for a whole new book in a whole different universe with new characters.
Yeah, we always seem to be writing, but we shouldn’t be. Everyone needs and deserves a break. You find inspiration in many places, sometimes it’s a song on the radio, sometimes it’s a book you’re reading, and sometimes when you’re not looking for it.
Have you ever had inspiration strike when you least expected it? Do you remember to give yourself breaks?