Inspiration is like milk

Ok, you are writing along and then… then what?  You need ideas.  Inspiration.  What happens next?

Waiting for inspiration to strike is like hoping the empty carton of milk in your fridge will refill itself.  You have to go out and get it.  Gather up ideas from everywhere- friends, enemies, random people in the supermarket, tv shows, books, movies, articles and so forth.  Don’t be surprised by where the ideas come from- I just got an idea from a toddler tv show that I’m going to use in my novel.

Is this copying? Is this unoriginal work?  I suppose so.  I suppose all creativity is building on other creativity.  Look at J.K. Rowling- she took things from many different places- Merlin, school stories, mythology and fantasy, and made it her own.

So I’m currently building up inspiration with books about fairies (my story involves an ancient fairy city full of wonders).  So I’m reading:

  • The Fairy Bible by Teresa Moorey
  • The Great Encyclopedia of Faeries by Pierre Dubois
  • Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee
  • The Nightwood by Robin Muller
  • Faeries: Doorways to the Enchanted Realm by Lori Eisenkraft-Palazzola

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, November, is here.  For those not in the know, it’s a chance to shed all reservations about writing and just write with literary abandon, with the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month.

I have participated before, and every time I’ve hit the goal.  It is a wonderful experience.  First because you are letting go of judgement.  It’s all about quantity, not quality.  Although you may be surprised at what gems appear when you write without censorship.  Writing that much and with that consistency leads to flow.  Secondly, it is great because you are in it with thousands of like-minded people from around the world.  You finish the month a bit dazed and burned out, but you have made a creation from start to finish.  It’s a bit like running in a marathon.  The sense of accomplishment is marvelous, and it makes smaller challenges seem do-able.

So, you have a goal, a deadline and tools to show where you are along the way.  This is something that everybody needs, whatever they want to accomplish.

writer’s block

Right now, nothing I write is any good.  In fact, it’s horrible.  Worse than drivel.  It is so hard to fight against the inner critic.  While it is destructive, it’s also subtle.  I don’t even realize I’m sinking, that I’m avoiding the few precious moments I have to write with excuses.  Then the excuses run out.  Here is the time.  Here is the place.  Here are all the resources I need to work on this project.  Silence.  Oh, all right then dear, how about this project?  Silence. No worry, let’s just try this one.  Rapidly going through all potential projects and dismissing them as not worthy.  Then I realize that it’s not time management that’s the problem.  It’s pre-judging.  In my mind, nothing is any good.  I should just give up, because I can’t write.  I’m just fooling myself that I could ever publish a novel.  No one would ever like such boring, trite, clunky prose, plots tangled up in cliche and melodrama.  No editor would waste her time on it.  My best friends would only read it to be polite.

 

Is it any wonder that it’s easier for me to start something than to finish it?  I’ve done lots of first drafts, segments of stories, bits and bites, but hardly anything is really polished. I get to a certain point where looking at the story gives me a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I were reading an eviction notice or an obituary.  I have eight works in progress.

 

So I surf the net, do laundry, read, watch tv, stare off into space, instead of write.  Then, in the last few moments before falling asleep, I try to write something, finding my head nodding over my computer.

 

The only solutions I have are to not start anything new until I’ve completed something, and to find some other person to give me input, to tell me, in a way I can believe isn’t just being polite, that my work doesn’t suck.  That, in fact, I should keep going. It may not be award-winning, paradigm shifting stuff, but it’s good enough to publish.

 

Anybody?