Summer is in the air and the weather in North Carolina is alternating between incredible and stifling. By the end of July, it will only be stifling. But the days are getting longer, and the extended sunlight makes me feel good, in spite of the humidity. Really good. Inspired, and ready to work. Good weather is inspirational.
Writing inspiration isn’t quantifiable, but over the past ten years I’ve tried to understand it better. Harness it. Avoid writer’s block or get through it and get back to writing. You’ve heard the old adage: “Want to be a writer? Then write something, anything, every day.” There’s a great deal of truth in that. But I’d expand that saying to go something like this, “Write every day and find inspiration in everything you do.”
But what is “inspiration”?
Someone recently pointed out to me that there’s a huge difference in running on a treadmill and running through a park. I do both of these, and it’s completely true. Yes, I get physical benefit by running, period (and I can drink more wine!). But I get a spiritual, psychological benefit from running outdoors in addition to the physical benefit. My thoughts aren’t focused on the TV overhead or the display in front of me. I’m free to let my mind run along with my body. And in those “Zen moments” when I let go, I often find myself open to a new story idea, or a plot twist that eluded me before.
Lock yourself in a room with a computer every day, spend every free minute writing, and your inspiration will flag. That’s a tough lesson to learn, especially when you have a deadline to meet. The urge to put in the hours and not “waste” time has resulted in more than a few days where I didn’t exercise or do something to stimulate creativity.
Lack of inspiration and writer’s block go hand in hand. It’s kind of like falling asleep—the more you think about how hard it is to fall asleep, the harder it is to fall asleep. Eventually you’re a total mess and it’s 3 a.m. Been there, done that. Every one of your bedmate’s snores, every car that drives by your home, every time the A/C kicks in, you’re more awake than before. Worry about not getting your writing project done, worry that you aren’t working enough on your writing, and suddenly you’re at a standstill and can’t write a single word. Also been there, done that.
So how do you find inspiration?
I’ve already spoken about my running. Then there’s my anime habit. Best thing in the world for me to recharge my inspirational batteries. I’ve gotten some of my writing ideas from watching hours of Japanese anime. Yes, hours. And I’ve learned to let go of (most of) the guilt when I do watch for hours. That’s the snoring, by the way. The background noise you focus on instead of letting go.
It’s not only writers who need inspiration, of course. And it’s not only activities like exercise, reading, and watching movies or shows that can inspire. Sometimes it’s an hour of gardening. Cooking something (my daughter loves to bake when she needs to let go of stress). A dinner out. A quiet bench in a park.
How do you find your inspiration? Leave me a comment and let me know. And if you haven’t found your own inspiration yet, maybe some of the ideas will inspire you! –Shira
Coming late summer to Dreamspinner Press: Take Two
Shiver me timbers! When Professor Wesley Coolidge accepts a summer job as a historical consultant to a pirate movie being filmed in North Carolina, the last person he expects to bump into is his soon-to-be-ex, movie star Sander Carson. Just like the flamboyant pirate he’s playing, Sander, aka Sam Carr, is used to getting what he wants, and he makes it clear he wants Wesley back in his life.
Sam acknowledges it’s his fault they split up. He lost Wesley when he left their life in New York City behind for a career in Hollywood. But Wesley has finally managed to put the pieces of his heart back together, and he isn’t interested in Sam and Wesley: The Sequel. Sam soon realizes that convincing Wesley to give their relationship a second chance will take much more than apologies and reminders of good times past. If he wants Wesley back, Sam will have to show Wesley that they really can sail into the sunset together… a real-life happily-ever-after that won’t end once the final credits roll.
Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.
Shira is married with two grown children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing, she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found at the Carolina coast aboard Land’s Zen, a 35’ catamaran sailboat, with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.
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