Part 2 – I’ll have one cup of inspiraton to go please

Happy Wednesday! To everyone out there hard at work, smile, the day is half over! WooHoo!!

So I hope you all enjoyed yesterday’s blog! Are ya’ll inspired yet?? Well if not, hang on to your hats. I’ve got more suggestions coming your way right now. 🙂

  1. Writing journal. I highly recommend this for any writer. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or something you write in every day. Just a plain notebook will do, although a nice journal can be motivating. Write down thoughts, inspirations, quotes and snippets of good writing you find. Even pieces of dialog, plot ideas, or new characters. Anything you can think of that might be inspiring or a tool you can use for your writing. Don’t be like me, (I’m trying to get better), where you have a thousand sticky notes in your car, purse, beside your bed, and any other nook and cranny you can find. Being organized, if possible, is the best way to do it. I would also suggest a separate journal for each short story, novel, etc. that you may have ideas for.
  2. Dreams. Your dreams can be vital at times for inspiration. I dream A LOT. My husband says he rarely dreams and hardly ever remembers them which is the exact opposite of me. He thinks I’m insane when I describe some of them to him. In fact, there are a few of my own that I’ve incorporated in my current manuscript. One or two that I’ve actually carried with me since childhood. I suggest keeping your writing journal or perhaps a smaller one by your bedside and writing down what you can remember when you wake up. I have one for just that reason. Not because I think it’ll tell me something about myself, like my future or past, but because dreams are so interesting. They have complete disregard for the rules of reality, for their otherworldliness, and plot twists within them.
  3. Exercise. Although, exercise is one of my least favorite activities. I’ve heard that there’s something about the quietness, combined with the increased flow of blood through your brain, and being out in the fresh air with nature, that really stimulates the mind.
  4. Religion. Some of you may be religious and some might not be, but you can’t deny the great religions in the world have ideas that are beautiful and inspiring. I can say that any time I’ve spent reading the ideas of religion they have paid off for me in inspiration.
  5. Google. I shouldn’t be saying this, because at times, the internet can be a writer’s worst enemy, but if you’re stuck for ideas, Google may be the way to go. It often helped me out simply by searching for the topic I’m writing about. I find tons of great resources and inspiration.
  6. Poetry. No matter how much you truly understand about poetry, I find that it can be most inspiring. Through its beauty, flow, style, and use of rhythm, it can be without a doubt, something that speaks to you in the best way possible.
  7. Freewriting. It’s one of the best ways to get unstuck if you’re uninspired that I’ve found. Just start writing, with no pressure and no direction. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Don’t edit, don’t pause, don’t think. Just write and let it flow. You’ll end up with a lot of garbage probably, but it’ll help you get out of your rut and you might just write some really good stuff among all that garbage.
  8. Brainstorms. Similar to Freewriting, but instead of writing prose, you’re writing ideas. Just let them flow. This one time, let speed and quantity be more important than quality. Within this brainstorm of ideas, you’ll most likely find a few nuggets of greatness. I seem to find my best brainstorming is done in the car alone.
  9. Breaking your routines. Get out of your rut and see things from a new perspective. If you usually take one route to work, try a couple others. If you usually get up in a hurry, running crazy to get ready for work, stop, try to slow things down a bit. Have some quiet time with yourself before everyone starts their day. Even if it’s just staring out of the kitchen window watching the birds while you sip coffee. Change where you have lunch each day or just take a walk instead. If you usually watch TV at the end of the day, try reading or writing instead. Shake things up.
  10. Bookstores. Hello! You’re a writer. What better way to get inspired than to be surrounded by books? Stories that have weathered the storm of time, great epic tales that left you breathtaken. A collection of works from writers who made it to the finish line, where you dream to be, and the inspiration that they made it and so will you. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.
  11. Nature. Stuck for ideas? Go for a walk or a jog. Get away from sidewalks and into grass, trees, fields and hills. Appreciate the beauty around you and let the inspiration flow through you. Sunsets and sunrises, of course, are two uplifting scenes of nature. Anything involving water is also awesome (oceans, rivers, lakes, even puddles.) My favorite happens to be thunderstorms and rain. The way the wind roars and the trees sway. The clap of lightening that comes after the boom of thunder. The drops of rain hitting our tin roof. Love it.
  12. Travel. Whether it be halfway around the world, or a day trip to the next town or national park, getting out of your usual area and discovering new places, people, and customs can be one of the best inspirations for writing. Use these new places to open up new ways of seeing. Sensory description is important in our writing. What better way to open up our senses?
  13. History. It can be unexpected and maybe even a bit cliché, but great people in history can inspire you to greatness. Whether it be a president, a war hero, a rebel, or a courageous martyr from the past, you can find inspiration in their stories.
  14. Children. I know everyone has heard of the tv show, Kids Say the Darndest Things, well it’s TRUE. Children are inspiring on so many levels, and I for one, cherish the time I have with my kids immeasurably. Do you ever remember being able to make toys out of nothing but your imagination? I remember holding my mom’s watch and imagining it as a mermaid. Have you ever heard your kids in the back seat of the car? They make up the best stories! With of course, the use of their seatbelt, which has turned into a giant anaconda trying to strangle them in the Amazon! As I watch, listen, and talk with my children I find myself often reflective, about life, about humanity, about love. I suggest that children, with their fresh outlook on the world, can change the way you view things and inspire you in ways you never thought possible.
  15. Success stories. Read all kinds of success stories of people who have gotten published. One thing that I’ve learned and has kept me inspired, is that I’m not alone. There are writers right now, who are exactly in the same place I am, some ahead or some behind. It doesn’t matter, because whatever stage you’re in, whether it be the very first page, your last page, or your first full edit, you’re not alone! That in itself, keeps me inspired. It inspired me to keep going at times I didn’t think I could. Writing is rewarding but it’s a slow process. It demands patience and at times, only these success stories can give us the fuel to keep going, making us realize our dreams are not so far away.

These are just some ways that I’ve found help with inspiration. Everyone needs it every now and then, even if they’re not a writer. Feel free to post comments of things you have found that inspires you! I would love to hear them and try them out!

Happy Writing Ya’ll!

I’ll have one cup of Inspiration to go please – Part 1

No matter how much you love writing, there will always be days when you need inspiration from something.

In fact, I would say that inspiration is not just a desirable thing, it’s an essential part of the writing process.

Every writer needs to find inspiration in order to produce inspired writing. And sometimes, it’s hard to find. UNLESS, you discover that it’s actually simple to discover and found from the unlikeliest of sources.

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite ways of finding inspiration. (Some of them obvious, some of them less so.) But it’s always good to have reminders, and if you haven’t used a few of these sources of inspiration in awhile (or ever), give them a go. The great thing about writing is that you can change it, start over, and end it. You mold it to your desires and inspirations. It’s adaptable and forever changing if you wish it to be.

  1. Books. This is my ALL time favorite. In the beginning of my writing endeavor, I was terrified to read anything while I wrote my manuscript. I just knew it would make me feel so inadequate. But remember, the books you’re reading started the same way yours did, with just the author and his/her idea. However, its gone a step further through a tedious stretch of professional agents, editors, and a publisher to get it to the book shelf and in your hands. OF COURSE, it’s going to be fantastic. But, just visualize one day that sloppy, self-edited, red-inked copy of your manuscript, will one day look as prim, proper, and together as the book you now hold. Anyway, back to what I was saying. I felt like reading would make me confused in my own writing, making it hard to separate my voice in my manuscript from that of the author’s voice in the book I was reading. THAT IS A LIE. Reading is probably one of the best things a writer can do in his/her spare time. Spare time, what’s that you say? Read the books that you love, the ones that inspire you. The ones that gave you the passion and the bravery to embark on your own writing. Take books that mirror yours in ways and study them. Analyze their writing and get inspired by their greatness. Fantasy, Paranormal, and Sci-Fi are my absolute favorites. So take a break from writing when you’re staring at the blank page on your laptop screen and read. You’ll be surprised the rejuvenation and inspiration you’ll find just by opening the cover.
  2. Movies. Okay, so I’m one of those people that don’t go to the movie theatre just to see the movie. I LOVE the previews just as much! You can ask my husband, we never get to a movie late because it just isn’t a movie without previews. Sometimes, it’s the previews that inspire me even more than the movie itself. The music, the anticipation, the small clips of something extraordinary happening but you don’t quite know the whole story yet. Like the previews of the last two Harry Potter movies, which gave me chills from excitement. Now, I’m not saying all previews leave you inspired, but I’m sure you can think of a few in your mind that did. As far as the movie goes, you can gain a lot from listening to the characters and what they say. Screenwriters, at times, can write beautiful dialog. But it doesn’t have to be just the character’s words. Get inspired by the incredible camera work, the way that a face is framed by the camera, the beauty of the landscape captured on film.
  3. Blogs. This is one of my favorites, as well. Aside from this blog, of course, there are dozens of great blogs on writing and every topic under the sun. Every author is different and I find their diversity, a wealth of inspiration for me in times I just can’t quite get there in my writing. It inspires me into action!
  4. Overheard dialog. If I’m anywhere in public, whether it be at a restaurant, a mall, my workplace, or even Wal-Mart (you know you hear some stuff at Wal-Mart), I’ll sometimes eavesdrop on people. Don’t get weirded out, you know you do it too! Especially, if it’s something interesting. Just keep quiet, and listen. I love hearing other people have conversations. You can’t help but hear them sometimes, so use it for inspiration if you can. Take that snippet of intriguing dialog, jot it down in your writing journal as soon as possible. It can serve as a model or inspiration for later writing. People watching is great too. Find a busy place and just sit and watch. Don’t be a creepy stalker, but you get the idea.You’ll be surprised at what you’ll see. My most favorite place to do this is in New York City. I love that place!!
  5. Art. For the writer aspiring to greater heights, there is no better inspiration than great art. While it doesn’t compare to the experience of seeing the art in person, I’ve found that simply finding art work of all kinds on the internet, magazines, or books can at times inspire me and help with visualizing what I’m trying to describe in my manuscript. It gives me a depth and more dimensions in my writing.
  6. Music. Along the same lines as art, music can be just as inspiring, if not more. What types of music stir your emotions when you hear it? Play it in the background as you write, and allow it to lift you up and move you. I personally, listen to a lot of music from my favorite movies. They catch me in the moment and allow me to spill my words onto the paper. I match some songs with certain scenes in my manuscript as if it was made soley for what I wrote. I even listen to it in my car when I’m by myself. I replay the dialog and scene from my manuscript in my head for whatever song I’ve combined it with. I’ve found that doing this, has helped me visualize it more clearly and given me ideas to add or to take away. Yes, I have a notebook on a side pocket of my car door. I try to not frequently write while driving, but sometimes you just can’t pull over! I can’t forget my idea, right!? Can you imagine telling the police officer after he pulls you over, that you were simply trying to write down an idea for the book you’re writing. Ask him his name, maybe if he thinks you’re going to put him in your story he won’t give you a ticket. Kidding!!!
  7. Writing groups. Whether online or in your community, writing groups are great ways to get energy and motivation for your writing. As you read out your work to the group, they can critique it and make suggestions. The work of the other writers inspired me to do better. When I was at the Writer’s Digest Conference this past year, in my first class, we were able to volunteer to read our first few pages of our manuscript to the other writers there. It was AMAZING! I was in awe of the ideas and fantastic writing each one presented. It was such an eye opener and such an inspiration.
  8. Friends. Conversations with my friends, in real life, on the phone, through emails, have inspired some of my best posts or writing. They stir up my ideas, contribute ideas of their own, and they fuse into something even more brilliant than any of us could have created alone. In fact, the blog topics, Mix It Up Mondays and Fun Fact Fridays came from one of my best friends as we were eating lunch one day. So listen to your friends. I mean, after all, they chose you as a friend, so they must be pretty smart.
  9. Quotes. I don’t know why it’s so, but great quotes help inspire me. I like to go to various quote sites to find ideas to spark my writing, turns of phrase that show what can be done with the language, motivation for self-improvement. Try these for a start: Writing Quotes and Quotes for Writers. Google is totally your friend when looking for these.
  10. The Pocket Muse. A book full of writing inspirations. I mean, what could be easier than that!?

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog where I give you 15 more ways to find inspiration.

Happy Writing Ya’ll!!

Passion Paper…

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How do you capture your passion on paper? Better yet, how do you get your readers to over and over again?

It’s something that every writer asks themselves when they embark on a new piece of work. If it isn’t their first time, perhaps they feel even more pressure to bring that passion once more to the page. Now, however, in greater proportions than the time before. After all, they have readers to satisfy and take care of.

I often wonder sometimes who has the hardest work laying before them. Is it the brand new inspired writer who has the furthest inkling of what, in fact, he or she is about to thrust themselves into? Or is is the well polished, well oiled, professional who has been typing away at their keyboard for the last decade.

Both have something to prove. Both feel the unrelentling pressure of spilling their soul out onto a piece of parchment. Not just any paper. No. One that readers will pick up again and again. One that at times will make them laugh, make them cry, dare to dream, awaken their past or future and allow them to relive it over and over again, as many times as they willingly pick up the words of your soul you dared to share. The words you bleed for.

I say again, it is an honor to be part of the writing tribe. It’s hard and there are days I can’t seem to pick up a pen or turn on my laptop. But I have a story to tell. One that God put forth in me to share, like no other could. Each of us have our own. And that’s what I’ll do and what will drive me to pour that passion onto the page. I’ll do it…because I’m a writer.

 

Chin Up! Rejection is just another step in your journey…

hope

The beginning of a new year can be summed up into one word, “hope”. Possibilities seem fresh and endless just like the first flowers of Spring. So my first topic of the new year is the dreaded “R” word…Rejection. Yep, I said it. It’s a universal word that all writer’s understand immediately, whether they are a rookie who just picked up a pen or a well seasoned published author.

Rejection seems to cause a writer to cease breathing for a slight moment and sometimes make them come to a grinding halt altogether. In this instant however, is where the beacon of “hope” lies. This is where determination and perseverance shines through if allowed. Where every writer comes to a crossroads, choosing to become either a dreamer or a doer. A romanticist or an achiever.

Every creation has a journey just as our stories develop page after page. Rejection is just another step in our creative process. I say embrace it, grow and learn from it. Rejection means your not standing still, but moving.

So in saying all this I leave you with a few examples on how some of the most wonderful, famous, sought out authors started the same way you did with…Rejection.

DuneNearly 20 publishers told Frank Herbert “no thanks” after he’d submitted the manuscript for Dune. Eventually, Dune was accepted by Chilton, a publisher of auto repair manuals and an unlikely launching pad for a book that would go on to define an entire genre, sell over 12 million copies, and get made into a movie (twice).

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J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (later Sorcerer’s) Stone was rejected by a dozer publishers, including biggies like Penguin and HarperCollins. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the publisher’s chairman’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book. Although Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, they advised Rowling to get a day job since she had little chance of making money in children’s books. Ummmm…billion dollar success…do I really need to say anything else. Please let someone say that to me!!!

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Stephen King received dozens of rejections for his first novel, Carrie. One of the publishers sent a rejection saying, “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” If it hadn’t been for his wife, Tabitha, the iconic image of a young girl in a prom dress covered in pig’s blood would not exist. After 30 rejections for his story, he threw it in the trash only to be fished out by his wife. King sent his story out again and, eventually, Carrie was published. The novel became a classic in the horror genre and has been adapted into film and television.

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Based on his party-throwing, out-of-control aunt, Patrick Dennis’s story was picked up by Vanguard Press only after being rejected by 15 other prior publishers. Within years Auntie Mame, would not only become a hit on Broadway but a popular film as well. Dennis became a millionaire and, on 1956, was the first author in history to have three books simultaneously ranked on The New York Times bet-seller list.

chicken-soup-for-the-soul

Within a month of Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen submitting the first manuscript of the multimillion dollar series, Chicken Soup for the Soul, to publishing houses, it got turned down 33 consecutive times. Publishers claimed that “anthologies don’t sell” and the book was “too positive”. You want the total number of rejections before the president of Health Communications took a chance on the collection of poems, stories, and tidbits of encouragement? 140. Today, the 65-title series has sold more than 80 million copies in 37 languages.

Here are a few more little nuggets and their rejections:

1. Madeline L’Engle’s book, A Wrinkle in Time, was turned down 29 times before a publisher.

2. C.S. Lewis received over 800 rejections before he sold a single piece of writing.

3. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind was rejected by 25 publishers.

4. An editor once told F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”

5. The Dr. Seuss book, And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected for being “too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant selling.”

6. George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected with the comment, “It’s impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

7. The manuscript for The Diary of Anne Frank received the editorial comment, “This girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level.”

8. Emily Dickinson was told, “Your poems are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true potential qualities.”

9. Edgar Allen Poe was told, “Readers in this country have a decided and strong preference for works in which a single and connected story occupies the entire volume.”

10. Herman Melville, who wrote Moby Dick, was told, “We regret to say that our united opinion is entirely against this book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenile Market in (England). It is very long, rather old fashioned…”

In conclusion, “Keep your chin up” and know even the greats had to deal with the dreaded “R” word but they held onto hope.

What Inspires you?

We all have those moments, a certain clip in our favorite books or movies that move us in unspeakable ways. Ways in which, even as writers, we are breathtakin and without words. This is something that every fiction author and perhaps every writer at one time or the other strives to give to their readers. To have that one instant where their story comes together in an unforgettable moment for their readers to carry with them forever.

That’s what makes the diversity in books and movies so wonderful because you never know what part will speak to one person or another. The euphoria of being the hero in the battle, the heroin who is fought for, or the character who overcomes great odds to become what he or she was meant to be. It’s what I love most about books and movies. How they draw us in and gives us hope, allowing us, for even a short time to dream, to fall in love, to fight, and to live in a world that doesn’t exist outside the pages of a book or the movie screen.

As a writer, these times are key for me in my inspiration. They allow me to grow in my writing and to take chances when creating something. So my question is…what inspires you?

Watch those movie clips or read those pages that stir something within you. Write down the feelings you have for each. Do they make you feel desperate or that you can win at any cost? Maybe it’s that your love can carry you through anything? Keep that list nearby when you write. Look at it often and seek to bring that to your own pages that you write. Allow it to flow and be ongoing for your readers.

Here are just a few of mine:

Movie: Harry Potter/ The Deathly Hollows Part 2 – Professor McGonagall casts the spell to protect Hogwarts.

Movie: Lord of the Rings – Arwen gives Aragorn the Evenstar

Movie: Lord of the Rings/The Two Tower’s – Battle charge of Helms Deep

Movie: Notting Hill – When Julia Roberts asks Hugh Grant to come sit beside her.

Movie: The Notebook – When Noah asks Allie what she wants, and he knows it’s gonna be hard but he wants to do it with her.

Book: Divergent Trilogy/Allegience – won’t go into details in case you haven’t read the books. But the end was something I had to recover from for a couple of days. Veronica Roth definitely took her own advice in saying “Be brave”.

Book: Game of Thrones/A Storm of Swords – ah hem…the Red Wedding…need I say more. When I watched the scene from the tv show I literally got up from the couch and screamed as did most people who read the books or watch the show. My sister-in-law literally fell to her knees, screaming and crying.

There’s my list! Now it’s time to write yours!

HAPPY WRITING!!!

 

 

 

 

Should you keep going?

One of the things I have learned to do lately, is to check out other writer’s blogs, publishing blogs, editing blogs, etc. There is a world of knowledge out there for the writing industry and you must stay on top of it as best you can. The greatest ways I’ve found to do that is read, read, read, and ask as many questions as possible. Another helpful hint, is to try to meet individuals whenever you can whether it be authors, publishers, agents or editors. We NEED all of them along this adventure of ours!!

Soooo saying all that…I came across a blog entry from author, Jody Hedlund, that really inspired me and I hope that it will you too…

A special encouragement for those who’ve written a book, but don’t know if they should keep going . . .

1. Finishing a first book is a HUGE accomplishment. Anyone who does so should be proud of the feat. There are a lot of people who talk about writing a book, who have all kinds of great ideas, or who may even get a few chapters written . . . but for all the good intentions, they never complete the book.

I always applaud anyone who actually makes it to “the end” of the first book or two. It shows that we have the endurance and self-discipline to persevere.

My first books were my hardest to write. Half the time I didn’t know what I was doing or where the story was going. I was filled with all kinds of self-doubts and didn’t really know if I had what it took to be good.

But isn’t that true of anything we just begin? For example when I first started running a year ago, I wanted to puke and die every single step of the run . . . even though I only went around the block (which is barely a mile!). I can’t say that I run effortlessly now, but it sure is a LOT easier than when I started and I can go a lot further.

The same is true of writing. If we can write the first book or two (or three), our writing muscles and skills grow stronger. And while writing may never be totally effortless, it will get easier.

2. Don’t get overwhelmed with well-intentioned feedback. I have to be honest, I was never brave enough to get feedback on my first few novels. I never let any eyes but my own ever see them. So I admire those writers who can take critiques on early manuscripts.

I would just caution against getting overwhelmed by all of the advice. I’ve seen too many writers who spin their wheels editing the same chapters (or same book) over and over and trying to perfect it. While there’s nothing wrong with improving a manuscript, sometimes being in editing mode for too long can zap the joy out of writing.

It’s best for “younger” writers to keep the writing hand moving and the creative part of the brain unfettered. If we apply what we’re learning as we write the next book, we’re bound to take greater strides forward than if we simply keep nitpicking an old manuscript. After completing several manuscripts we’ll be able to look back on our first ones and see how far we’ve come.

3. Finally, keep the dream of publication alive. We can’t let it die because we think it’s too hard to get an agent or land a book deal, or because there are already too many books out there, or because of the uncertainty of the market.

The good news is that publishers and readers still love discovering new authors. There will always be a place for an author who has honed her writing craft and is able to tell a riveting story. But that means, however, that we can’t rush the process, that we have to make the effort to actually hone our skills and learn what comprises a good story. Taking the time to “do writing” right still works best in the long run.

My Summary: Should you keep going? Do you have what it takes? If you love writing and if you’re passionate about story-telling, then keep fanning the flame. Don’t let the dreams of publication die. Maybe you won’t find extreme riches and fame, but you’ll find extreme satisfaction in a story well-told.
– See more at: http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/2014/10/encouragement-for-writers-who-dont-know.html#sthash.q07hQRgL.dpuf

Write Every Day

Just wanted to share a quote I found and the comment to it. It spoke volumes to me and every word of it is true…

Write Every Day

Write every day. Don’t ever stop. If you are unpublished, enjoy the act of writing—and if you are published, keep enjoying the act of writing. Don’t become self-satisfied, don’t stop moving ahead, growing, making it new. The stakes are high. Why else would we write?

RICK BASS

Comment:

Whenever I question whether or not to continue writing; I ask myself is it worth the time and effort put forth to complete a project? Then I come across a word of encouragement; your Blog reinforces why we choose to write. It is not for the years spent completing a project, nor is it the rejection letters that bring us to tears. By far it is the passion that drives us to write, in the worlds we create and the characters we bring to life. Writers simply do so because it is what drives us, and it is what we love to do. You understand what we as writers need to hear, especially when we question our craft.

February 9, 2013 | Michele Kunz