Writing Your Way into the Deep End . . . of Inspiration!

As writers, we all chase after the glittery, sparkly, alluring muse known as Inspiration.

But, with the COVID restrictions, maybe some of you have found your inspiration wellspring drying up.

Myself, I go for long walks in one of Wichita’s local cemeteries and look at the names on the tombstones, and watch geese and a pair of soon-to-be nesting hawks.

I hate to admit to you all that even with stay-at-home COVID, I rarely am at a loss for ideas. I sit down and scribble a bunch of random phrases all over a piece of paper that ends up looking like a drunk spider trying to make a web. And then I have a story. After I’ve written it, I give it some space, and then I edit. And edit. And edit. Then I tell myself to stop procrastinating and I send it off. *cue Titanic film score music* And I wait. Wait for acceptances. Wait for editorial suggestions from the editor(s). Wait for a bird to fly past the window so that I can take my mind off all the waiting.

So, while inspiration isn’t a problem for my short stories, I’m still haunted by an entirely different spectre (Hello, ADHD!) that chases after more tangible sparkly things; my mischievous cat, for one, or the birds outside the window, or wondering if my neighbour(s) are building entire rocket ships from scrap metal in their livespaces, and wishing that I could join in the fun, if so.

Where I struggle is outlining. Outlining, plotting, and hitting the word count needed for a full-length manuscript.

(Yes, probably even editing, too, but I believe every writer needs an editor.)

I’m working on two projects right now. One’s a spooky horror manuscript; the other is a…motivational book?…for lack of a better term. They’re both off to a fairly decent start as long as I don’t suggest that the road to personal bliss and growth involves a detailed process of dismemberment for one’s enemies.

But when I do have trouble focusing, I change the background music (film/tv/video games scores or classical), I meditate (aka take a nap!), or I’ll even pull tarot cards for inspiration.

(I shared a sample tarot card reading over at The Horror Tree for February. https://horrortree.com/wihm-using-tarot-cards-for-writing-inspiration/ Stay tuned over there for the March reading, coming up soon!)

Sometimes, though, you need something a little meatier for a full-length manuscript. And so I selected a book for my holiday-Amazon-gift-card spending spree called Write Horror Good Enough to Wake the Dead by Christina Escamilla (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7828668.Christina_Escamilla) to help me overcome my issues with “Pacing”, “Structure”, and “Scene” (<—actual subchapter headers in Escamilla’s book, just FYI) but with a definite horror slant.

This spookily delicious little book comes with a multitude of writing exercises to help you perfect your rage-fueled dismemberments writing craft and, as the back cover of Escamilla’s book states: “introduces two new writing methodologies: The Basement Method and the Horror Pinch Theory”. (Where you can dig up the book: https://bookshop.org/books/write-horror-good-enough-to-wake-the-dead/9781092372473.)

I’m loving the exercises Escamilla provides but time will tell (if I ever get the bloody thing done) if my horror book will be “Good Enough to Wake the Dead”.

I have my beta readers already selected from the inhabitants at the local Wichita cemetery, but no word if any of them are willing to double as sensitivity readers, yet! They’re proving to be quite the silent type, I’m afraid. And so I wait.

13 thoughts on “Writing Your Way into the Deep End . . . of Inspiration!

    1. Nice, let me know it works. And feel free to share any of your tips on outlining and plotting and such! (Or we can just go be hippie artists.) I also just realised I might try writing a chapter and then giving it space and adding more polish to it with a quick rewrite. “They” say not to do that, but I might try it anyway. 🙂

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  1. No need to apologize for the fact that you are not at a loss for stuff to write about. 🙂 That’s a gift. I agree with you on the editing. When you write thousands of words, you are going to have a few typos, it’s inevitable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. maggiedot

    I hear you on struggling with structure! I think I’ve finally cracked it after reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (caveat: he’s clearly gotten into slap fights with pantsers at conferences, so there’s a decided….cranky/whining/defensiveness to his tone? But if you can overlook that, it’s one of the best books on novel-length structure I’ve encountered.) I used to think outlining/planning a book completely from the start would sap my interest in writing it, but I’m realizing with my current WIP (which I did not plot out or outline and got completely burnt out on trying to edit) that outlining my scenes in some form allows me to “chase the shiny” just like you mention, and skip forward and backward in the narrative to write what catches my fancy any given day. It’s helped!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, I’m trying, and I just landed a new position, so now I’m working out how to juggle that with writing and keeping up with my short stories submissions! Feel free to load me up with time management tips! LOL

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