You’re into your book! It’s going fabulously. You had this incredible inspiration, the writing just soared, these characters are so cool! And plot twists, ah, they’re coming at the speed of light.
This being a writer is truly wondrous! You knew you could do it!
And then . . .
Wham. You hit a wall.
One that stopped you in your tracks. And from where you sit, neither method nor magic wand appears to help get you through it.
Inspiration has flown to the far side of Brazil for the season. Those witty, quirky, unique characters now look dowdy and flat. And while the plot twists still might work, the threads are all over the place and for the life of you, a creative way to tie them together seems about as plausible as finding aliens in the scrub brush at Roswell.
In short, creativity has taken another lover and left you high and dry. She’s just no longer that into you.
Because high and dry is exactly what it feels like. Arid. Dried smooth up as rain in a Texas summer.
And I cannot tell you how many writers quit at this point. Those questions arise of “What was I thinking? I’m not writer. Real writers don’t go through this!”
I hear this almost daily.
But the fact is, it happens to everyone who’s ever picked up a pen. If you stick with it long enough, you’re going to hit this wall. More than once! Horrors. And each and every time you’ll face those questions—which separate the amateurs from the professionals.
Nobody said this becoming a writer would be easy.
So, buck up. Keep the commitment, and let’s look at ways to get you through.
- Maintain your writing schedule.
Yep, what you’re writing may be crap indeed. In fact, often it is anyway! You know how sometimes you write like the wind and know it’s fabulous and wake up the next day and, well, it’s not as great as you thought. In the dry times, you don’t even get the writing-like-the-wind part!
Oh, well. So be it. But it’s the very act of persistence that paradoxically massages the muse. Sooner or later she’ll believe you’re serious about this being an author stuff.
And, you’re going to rewrite all of it eventually anyway, no?
- Read. In your genre, out of your genre, but absolutely read something funny. Humor does a wonderful job of spurring on creativity. When I was writing my first novel, I read a bit of Dave Barry every morning. Hooting at the clouds, I then sat to write. What a great way to begin!
And the thing is, one of your main tasks as a writer is to read and read and read some more. It’s mandatory. So, even when you’re not producing stellar material, you’re still furthering your goal.
How cool is that? Bagging two ducks with one shot always tweaks me.
- Partake of other creativity.
Something in a different medium from writing. Visual or tactile. Part of the arts that speaks to the creative part of the brain, but sorta sideways.
Go to the museum.
Go to the movies.
Visit a sculptor and watch him work. Better yet, dip your hands in the clay.
The list is endless. Just do something different, in order to turn your brain in a new direction.
Because the oddest thing happens. When you’re browsing through the Monet exhibit, a fleeting sensation teases from peripheral vision. Wait! What was that thought! Why, it hinted at your main character’s mother’s affair . . . Who knew!
- Get Physical. Nothing clears the mind like doing something with the body to get endorphins flowing.
Any physical endeavor works, but walks outside provide the best remedy, ensconced in nature, watching squirrels chase each other through the trees and birds chirp and my, what a cerulean sky! Besides, you’re breathing fresh air and doing something good for you!
Moving the body, giving the mind just enough to focus on, becomes very meditative. Because so often, creativity is still burbling in there, but the conscious mind is so filled with minutia, the subconscious creative part can’t break through the surface.
- Circle back to number 1.
Even if days and days and maybe even a week or two pass, gradually you’ll find yourself back in that place where your characters fly again. And they aren’t really flat, you know? Yep, some fleshing out needs to happen over here and what if he actually killed someone earlier in life and . . . off you go again.
Before you know it you’re chasing them through more twists and turns and all is perfect in heaven.
Until of course, you hit another wall. Which you will. But once you’ve hammered through the first one, you’ll know how to deal with the rest.
And most importantly—that you can do it.
How do you find inspiration when slamming into bricks?