Finding Inspiration

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.

Supernatural, prophet, Chuck

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.

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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.

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?

 

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27 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration

  1. Yes to this! 😀
    Breaks are important for writers, they can help the creative juices to start flowing again. I do love getting new ideas though, and starting new projects. That excited feeling is always the best!

  2. Great post!
    Having suffered two bad cases of burn out in the past few years, I have been working on learning how to take breaks, as I tend to go from one project to the other all the time (in between of scribbling notes for a dozen more possible ones and blogging). I feel guilty when I’m not writing, but I have to remind myself to take breaks. I try to set small writing goals per day and be ahead of schedule, so if I have days off that my body and brain demand, I can give it to them more easily.
    And I always carry a notebook with me if I leave the house because inspiration strikes whenever. I also try to keep said notebook on my bedside as the muses love to come alive right when I try to drift to sleep!

    1. Shauna Granger

      Yep, same for me on burn outs but keep pushing through anyway. Word goals are my secret too, there’s no other way for me to feel accomplished until the end, if I’m not giving myself something else to work towards. We have to remember this is a job like anything else and overtime and skipping days off will get to you. Just give yourself permission because you wouldn’t work 7 days a week for someone else!

  3. Yes! Thank you for validating my lack of creativity lately! I’m releasing my latest book at the end of this month (https://www.facebook.com/events/632242113539742/) and I just don’t feel like writing right now. I like to think of this as my mourning period once I’m done with a book, because I become so devoted to it while I write that it’s difficult to live life outside it for awhile. It happened to me after the last one, too.

    1. Shauna Granger

      Congrats on the new release! Very exciting! The mourning period is a very real thing. It hits me hard when I kill an important character or finish a series. Give yourself time to grieve and know there are people who totally get what you’re going through.

  4. I am so glad to come across a great post like this! I haven’t written anything since Camp NaNo last month and I’ve been feeling guilty about it because I feel as though I’m being unproductive. (Seriously, yesterday I went back and forth between playing video games and binge watching Pretty Little Liars on Netflix.) Yet, I wrote a lot last month due to Camp NaNo and I finished a manuscript, so I think I deserve a bit of a break. When you say you took a week and a half, I don’t feel as bad. 😉

    1. Shauna Granger

      Yep, totally normal, can’t even say “don’t feel guilty!” because it’s in our DNA. I totally binged on Luther on Netflix when I was done, so, yanno, not alone there. You did great at Camp Nano, enjoy this time!

  5. Are you me?

    Seriously, this was spot on. One of the big realizations that i’ve come to since I’ve started writing full time is that I’m always writing and I’m always feeling like I’m not writing enough, and when I can’t write for wIhatever reason, that’s when I want to write the most. I’ve forced myself to shut off the computer in the evenings, because, no matter how much you love a job, if you’re putting time into it at all waking hours, you’re going to burn out. As a result, in the mornings, which is my dedicated “work time,” I’m much more productive and I’m a lot less stressed when I can just unwind a little at night. Still thinking about writing, of course, but at least taking a little break to remember that, yes, there are other things in the world, too.

    Great post. You’ve said so many things I’ve been thinking about lately so well

    1. Shauna Granger

      You gotta figure out what works for you to give yourself permission to stop. I treat mine like a day job. I have a set goal of words to write each day, if I hit them or surpass it, on Friday I am done for the week and I take the weekend off. It’s hard to keep being creative if you’re always stuck in one space. I totally work in the mornings too and when I hit my goal I let myself walk away from the computer. Even though we’re creatives, it’s good to have structure – but that’s probably why we feel so strange when we take breaks. It’s a vicious cycle!

    1. Shauna Granger

      Exactly! Burn out is the worst. I love writing and I don’t want to forget it. Breaks are essential – even if it’s just a couple of days here and there.

  6. Reblogged this on kaleiyah-p and commented:
    Sometimes, inspiration for writing doesn’t come in glorious waves. Sometimes, it comes after a heavy rain of books and words and sights and sounds and smells and textures. And when it does come, it’s glorious, as suggested in this lovely post.

  7. Pingback: Finding Inspiration | Relms of words

  8. Hi Shauna, great post. I can totally relate! I’ve just had a few weeks off writing while on holidays and I found it so nice to have some time away from my work to just think things over without the pressure to execute anything. It was such a mental treat. In fact, I just wrote a post following a similar sort of theme today. Great minds! 🙂

    1. Shauna Granger

      Great minds indeed! It’s good to get away from the pressure because it reminds us why we do what we do and gets us excited to get back to it!

  9. The general stereotype for writers is that we spend all of our time in dark little corners with a cup of tea and a cat, typing furiously at all times and never really stopping. While that tends to happen (though in my case, the cat in question is a lazy hound dog) I find that my writing improves leaps and bounds and flows much more easily after I’ve spent some time in the world. Great post 🙂

    1. Shauna Granger

      Thank you! Mine is a lazy pup too and my cuppa is full of coffee, but yeah, that stereotype really does apply. Speaking of… *slinks off to find that corner once again*

  10. Pingback: Posts I loved this week | Taylor Grace

  11. I wish I could do that. It sounds like a great idea to recharge the imagination. But I feel like I’ve taken so much time off already–unintentionally–that it would be criminal for me to deliberately take more time off!
    Besides, I’m so close. I think I need to just power through.

  12. Yes, yes, and yes! As I come to the end of revisions on my current WIP, I’ve been struggling with what to work on next. I’ve got a few ideas, but they’re sort of jumbled and incoherent–definitely nowhere close to a story yet! This is a great reminder that it might be okay to take a few days off and relax–give my brain some breathing room! Maybe when I get back to work, things will be a little bit clearer.

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