Why We Need a Back-up Plan – Thursday’s Children

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A weekly blog hop
where writers come together
to talk about what inspires them.
 

Some weeks are just tough on the old writing front. When the creative well is more of a dust bowl than a gushing font of inspiration. In times-gone-by I may have lamented my lack of talent and wallowed in self-pity, but frankly I just don’t have the time.  Any writing time is precious and I will not waste it staring at a blank page.

So what’s a girl to do?

In times like these it pays to have a back-up plan. The tried and true things that have inspired in the past and are likely to help again. (Sort of like Batman’s utility belt…).

So here’s what works for me:

1. Phone a Friend.

I’m pretty lucky to have some truly awesome, hang out in the same geographical location, writing friends. We try and catch up at least once a week and do a couple of chapter edits on each other’s WIPs. (Check out Chapter Edits – A Quick Overview to see what I mean).

I was able to hang out with one of these friends last night – dragging my stalled plot point along with me. Her feedback, and genuine interest in my story was hugely inspiring. She asked great questions about my villain’s motives, and as I explained these to her, a lot of new possibilities suddenly opened up. Now I can’t wait to get stuck in and write them!

2. U2.

I wish Bono was my phone a friend, but I am just as grateful I own a lot of their music. It’s fair to say their music makes up most of the soundtrack to this trilogy, and for some reason really transports me back to that world.

The tracks I’ve been listening to on loop this week: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, With or Without You, Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, One, Walk On and Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own.

3. Visual Diaries.

I still keep an visual_diaryactual (rather than virtual) scrapbook of images that inspire me (and yes for those with good eyes that is Daniel Craig on the desk waiting to be stuck in… *sighs*).

Skimming through these images, whether it’s a mood, a place, or the expression on someone’s face – is often enough to get the creative juices flowing.

The photo shoot of the man and woman looking at each other was inspiration for two characters in the third book (Eleanor and Andreas – and no it isn’t a romance…).

4. Other People’s Books.

When I’m creatively flat I often find somebody else’s great writing can be an inspiration too. I usually try to keep within the genre I’m writing, to remind myself of the reasons I enjoy it.

Occasionally this backfires horribly and elicits feelings of utter inadequacy… in which case I head over to position five…

5. Inspirational Posts.

I subscribe to some great blogs, and tend to bookmark posts that are really uplifting. People who stuck at it and got published, other people in the same boat who are keeping on keeping on, and even those who give you a good kick in the pants and say ‘just get on with it’. This usually reminds me of the higher goal and encourages me to get back in the writing saddle again.

And when all else fails, there’s always youtube and the lolcats

Glad to say the writing is still on track!

How about you? What’s on your inspirational utility belt?

If you want to join Thursday’s Children or just check out what everyone else is posting here is the linky. (If someone wants to let me know how to run the script on Rhiann’s blog so the posts pop up on here – I’d really appreciate that)!

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34 thoughts on “Why We Need a Back-up Plan – Thursday’s Children

  1. Those are great suggestions. I have a a thing for U2 also (met a couple of them ages ago). I LOVELOVELOVE Bono and The Edge doing Stuck In A Moment sitting in chairs next to David Letterman. That’s what music, and friendship, is all about.

    1. So jealous… will have to get on youtube for the Letterman performance.

      Oh and I don’t know if you ever heard ) the story (on Graham Norton) about the guy who wanted to introduce himself to Bono at a restaurant but didn’t want to intrude. So he waits for Bono to go to the bathroom and asks his friend if it would be ok. Friend susses it out and waves them over and takes photo of guy with Bono. Later when he goes to pay his meal was paid for. He asks the guy if Bono paid for him. The waiter says – no it was Bruce Springstein… That would have been a night out…!

  2. Great stuff. Thanks for the tips…. I need them. I would just like to add that Bono and the Edge were great to work with, I just don’t know why they kicked me out of the band. Mom said I made them jealous….go figure.

  3. You are so lucky to have actual, human, writer types close by. *sigh* Not so here. Well, maybe a 45 minute drive into a part of town I’d rather not venture to at night. But, I have my on-line buds. And my hubby has suddenly started taking an interest. The fact he asks me just about every day how the book is coming along is quite inspiring. He’s not a reader at all, except for the newspaper.

    I love the visual diary. I do that in a file drawer. Then I have post its, cartoons, quotes, snippets, pinned up all over the wall by my desk. Keeps me going.

    I like to read bad fiction every now and again, just to be able to say, “Ha! I’m better than that.” Lately, I’ve hit a streak of really good stuff that makes me say, “Damn. Wish I’d’ve thought of that.”

    1. Yes, very blessed with these friends. Although the lovely Aimee Salter is moving back to the USA soon. *sniffles selfishly*… Lets hope the other friend doesn’t go anywhere soon. – But still I’m finding the online community hugely supportive (and good for a laugh…) too. It’s all good!

  4. I think I must be among a very small minority that does not like music when writing.

    How about just taking a break?

    I also like working with a completely random prompt. Not something like “you’re character is bla bla bla and has to yada yada ya.” Something simple, such as “black butterfly” or “wooly rhino”. They become show-not-tell moments or action scenes. Some are destined for slashing, but some work the plot along. All of them help me get back in the creative flow.

    1. Good tips – I like the random prompt idea must try it out… And although I am inspired by music I am also of the kind that needs silence when actually writing. Sadly silence is a rare commodity in our household.

    1. I am almost too scared to try Pinterest in case I fall totally into the social media vortex. Although I must say I have been tempted to try it out (it’s kind of like the virtual social media version of a visual diary isn’t it???)…

      1. Well, I don’t really use it for “social media” so to speak, although I follow a number of people–it’s cool looking at other boards. There’s no real interaction–or if there is I’m ignorant of it. I’m a visual person so I use it for storyboards and writing prompts. I have a link on my website where you can visit mine. Check it out and see what you think 🙂

      2. How fortunate I still had your blog open when I read this post. Your Pinterest looks amazing… Can. Feel. Self. Slipping. Into. Vortex… Must run off and do actual housework and big long list of real life jobs first!

  5. What a great post! I also find listening to music I love or reading a book are great ways to be inspired again. But I like to watch a couple of my favourite movies as well: they usually remind me of why I love storytelling.

  6. Hi Raewyn. That was a really interesting post. Like you and so many other people, I often struggle with my writing. Lately I’ve been writing a lot, working on my novel and it’s coming along well. But that could be because I planned it quite carefully first and so far I’m more or less sticking to the plan, which is unusual for me! Like you however, I do compare myself unfavourably to other writers sometimes and it can be hard to let go and just be confident in your own abilities. Best of luck with your work. Glad U2 inspires you – we all need inspiration.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Elaine – I’m glad your writing has been going really well. I think we all have those days where we wobble (at least I feel like I’m not the only one), but you’re right about trusting your own abilities. I hope you’re very inspired this week!

  7. Awesome post! 🙂 I’m also really lucky that I have a local group of writer friends who get together on a regular basis. I love hanging with other writers. And I can totally relate about reading that backfires into feelings of inadequacy. I really do love Pinterest for inspiration. I don’t really use it socially, but it’s great for some pick me up visuals.

    1. Thanks Christine! I must admit there’s nothing quite like getting together with a group of people who write – especially when they’re on the same page as you! After checking out Kate’s (comment above) Pinterest I can see why it appeals – until I figure it out I might just look at other peoples great images!

  8. Hi Raewyn – I’ve been working on the same novel so long. I seldom find myself short on writing “work” to do, but I do sometimes feel like it’s all rote and uninspired. I use many of the same tricks you do, including music, to get me started (I turn it off once I get going, but leave the headphones on for quiet.)

    I share your passion for U2, but lately, when I feel like I need a shot in the arm, something to remind me that the world is a lovely place and I can make it even better, I listen to this. (It’s from a recent production of Godspell, and though I’m an atheist, it regularly moves me to tears!) I hope you like it.

  9. Ahhh… and how did Thursday’s Children not make this list???? Haha – maybe we’re not trying hard enough!

    It’s interesting that you have your “utility belt” of go-to solutions when uninspired. I am still in the wallowing in self-pity phase 🙂

    But seriously, whenever I get stuck because of a plot point or weak scene, I pause everything and do a scene workshop — reminding myself of motivations, potential plot archetypes — and then trying to sketch out a rough scene on paper.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ah John – I missed that opportunity. As a newbie to Thursday’s Children I’ve been really appreciating the diversity and community this blog hop offers. *adds to utility belt* Oh and I’ve been to many a pity-party – I’m not sure if it’s because I have kids and they are the greatest levellers – or because I’m too old now to waste the energy – I need that utility belt!

  10. I relate to 3, 4 and 5. 1 works a little for me, but I have too few writing friends who live close. Internet friends help, but sometimes a girl needs face-to-face feedback. If 2 is simply a relationship to music, then that works for me, too.

    One of the things that often works for me, but probably won’t for a lot of people, is playing certain video-games. I write partly by sinking into certain moods, and many of the moods that first inspired me to become a writer came from video-games. My interactions with certain games feeds my store of writing motivation, puts me in the right mood to write and gives me inspiration. 🙂

    Another thing is what I call free-ranging, which is just letting my characters wander freely around in my mind. I see what they do with the jumbled mess of things in my mind. It’s very interesting and informative.

    Last but not least is going to places that are significant to me. This has a similar effect to playing video-games, and is better for me as it entails exercise. 🙂

  11. Great ideas – I’ve never heard of video games inspiring before, although saying that a friend of mine was very taken with Tomb Raider for a while and it leaked into her writing.

    I do a similar thing to your free-ranging I think, but rather than being specifically character focussed it’s just free writing. Just write whatever comes into your head (from Julia Cameron’s, The Artists Way) – that helped when I was blocked – but I haven’t had to do it for a while (it seems I have the opposite problem now – too many ideas)!

    1. I’ve heard only a few other people say they’ve been inspired by video-games. It happens, obviously, but it must be a fairly rare source of inspiration, or else it is rare for people to admit being inspired by them. I think that may be changing, though.
      A couple of my friends and I were discussing games as a source of inspiration just the other night. I was the only one there who played much, and definitely the only one inspired by them. It must have something to do with how I interact with games.
      In any case, video-game influences run down to into the roots of the worlds I write from, along with all of the other influences in my life. I wrote a post about one such influence a while back: http://jubilare.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/implications/

      Free-writing. 🙂 The main difference is that I don’t write these things down unless they seem important.

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