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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration for writers’

How to Jolt Back To Writing Non-Fiction From Fiction: 13 Tips

Image via applecopywriting.com.

Image via applecopywriting.com.

 

Are you fiction writer? A non-fiction writer? Or both?

If you truly love writing, want to make a regular income from it (or you are already making a living writing) and/or can’t wait to share what you have learned and experienced with the rest of the writers out there, chances are, you are both into writing fiction and non-fiction.

Stephen King wrote a book on writing, simply called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Now, that’s the kind of writer I want to learn from. Not because I’m a horror fan, but because I admire his success, productivity and ability to write in diverse genres (Shawshank Redemption, for instance, is based on a story of his) and write in a variety of formats (novels, short stories, non-fiction books…)

Screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Go, Charlie’s Angels, Dark Shadows) runs a website where he shares his tips on screenwriting – one of my favorite go-to resources as an aspiring screenwriter.

Some novelists get to adapt their movies to screen themselves and writing magazines love publishing advice articles from published writers. Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, anyone?

I love writing fiction and non-fiction, and wrote about why we needed to balance the two here before.

But sometimes, one takes priority over the other, usually because of deadlines and where your productivity is gravitating towards at that moment.

For the last couple of months, even though I did my best not to neglect my blogs, I’ve concentrated polishing my screenplay and a TV pilot for competitions. I read even more about formatting, selling, contests’ reliability. I found great resources on both writing and selling, and I’ll be sharing them here soon.

But it’s safe to say I was lost in a world of fictional characters and story lines, and reading up on how to make them come alive.

Of course my non-fiction ideas didn’t stop flowing. So I noted them down, and after having taken care of 3 competitions with the nearest deadlines, I’m ready to immerse in non-fiction once again.

Getting back to real life is fun, though your mind and writing might take a while to adjust. So below are a few tips to make the transition easier and quicker:

1)   Go through your old ideas. Having worked on different projects might have provided you new insights and angles. Use them. Brainstorm with your just-back-from-fiction mind. You might be surprised.

2)   Keep writing new ideas down. Also make a note of what you have learned about writing/selling fiction. There are a million stories there.

3)   Not getting hit by a new load of ideas? This post is bound to ignite some quality inspiration: Finding Article Ideas & Writing About Them: 30 Inspiration Tips for Writers.

4)   Check the websites/publications you follow, including the ones you have written for or wanted to write for. They might have gone through editorial changes. Their submission guidelines or how they work with freelance writers might have changed. Is this still a place you want to write for? Update your market list accordingly.

5)   If those websites are still up your alley, study the new articles. You need to know what they published recently. You don’t want to waste the editor’s time, or yours, by pitching an idea that was recently covered.

6)   Do a “markets” research. There are probably new writing markets you might want to catch up on. Make notes of the ones that interest you.

7)   Write. It’s like switching between rollerblades and your bike. Both are fun, both are you. They just work a bit differently.

8)   Promote your writing. Remind your readers you’re alive and well. Of course this works better if you’ve kept up a presence in the blogosphere during your fiction marathon.

9)   Read non-fiction: blogs, magazines, books, twitter feeds of the people that inspire you, entertain you and/or piss you off…new and old stuff. Read.

10)   Read some of those awesome e-books you kept for referencing, and some new resources you found. Some of my new favourites came from Sophie Lizard’s  Another 52 Free Resources for Freelance Bloggers post, for instance.

11)   Keep reading fiction, but don’t make it the priority.

12)  Exercise. Seriously. I know how easy it is to get caught up in the wonderfully exciting worlds you have created, but we need to be healthy. And exercising gives you even more ideas.

13)  Eat healthily. Yes, you always need to do this, but if you have gone on a binge to make the deadlines, get a grip on your eating habits before your immune system decides to punish you. I’ll be posting about this too, so stay tuned.

*

Welcome back to the lovely world of non-fiction! If there are any tips you’d to add, comment away…

 

10 Reasons Writers Should Watch TNT’s Perception starring Eric McCormack

Perception- Eric McCormack

Perception’s Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack) is a brilliant neuropsychiatrist:

  • He has published 7 books on neuroscience.
  • He is teaching at a prestigious university while helping the FBI solve their most complicated cases.
  • He has finished med school at the top of his class.
  • He can see things and make connections others can’t.
  • Only the most complicated and exciting puzzles can keep his interest.
  • Oh, and, he is managing all this (depending on your perception), despite/with/because of his condition: schizophrenic paranoia.

He mostly manages his condition with carefully set routines, the help of his TA and living aid Max, and through the cases his FBI agent friend/ex-student Kate (Rachael Leigh Cook) brings.

Perception is a wonderfully inspiring show, especially if you are a writer and/or you’re suffering from a health condition, mental or otherwise.

It has great acting, intriguing storylines, a well-written main character and scientific accuracy, being assisted by the leading neuroscientist David Eagleman who’s also a writer (of fiction and non-fiction, his non-fiction having been published on Wired, The New Yorker and others.)

I like breaking the don’t-watch-tv productivity tip. I don’t watch everything, trust me. I try, evaluate and become a regular watcher of shows that are smart, highly entertaining, inspiring and intriguing. It helps if there are characters you can empathize with on one level or the other, or characters whose jobs you wouldn’t mind doing (e.g. Cal Lightman’s job, Lie to Me.)

Perception is such a show, and I recommend writers to at least check it out because:

1)      Perception combines drama/mystery & comic relief really well. As writers, we want to be able to pull this off well, especially in fiction.

2)      The leading character’s self-depreciating sense of humor as a defense mechanism works on a writing level, but it also gives us ideas on how to manage our own conditions and issues.

3)      He writes to keep sane, and well, he is full of ideas all the time so he needs different media to convey them. He lectures, aids FBI and writes books.

4)      He is a writing success despite his condition.

5)      The show presents the very exciting field of neuroscience. I’ve been reading about it since I started watching the show.

6)      There is a fictional role model, as well as a real one (the consulting neuroscientist/writer David Eagleman who was born in 1971!)

perception-eric-mccormack

Eric McCormack as Daniel Pierce. Image via ew.com.

7)      It gives you nice little flashback into university years. I only had a couple of inspiring lecturers, so I wouldn’t have minded one like Pierce: always engaging, always relevant.

If you are collecting reasons to go back to college, this might warm you up further to the idea. Just remember, not all campuses are that nice and a lot of the lecturers tend to be boring.

8)      It’s possible to be a writing expert and expert writer at the same time. Writers might lack the professional knowledge and need to interview experts. Experts might lack the writing skills.

Pierce (and Eagleman) possess both. Oh, I should add that Eagleman brainstorms with Perception writers about the possible scenarios too.

9)      It provides therapeutic entertainment. Just listen to the lectures where he covers lying, fears, reality…

10)    And the series has an overall appreciation of individuality and life.

 

 

Have you watched it?

 

P.S. To read more about perception, you can check out its review here.

Finding Article Ideas & Writing About Them: 30 Inspiration Tips for Writers

 

Image via 123rf.com.

Image via 123rf.com.

Writers really need to be a jack of all trades these days since we are expected to be writers, editors, bloggers, platform builders, marketers and so on. We also have to have a million “sellable” ideas and we can’t afford to run out of them. Because all our other skills won’t add up to much if we don’t have any sellable ideas to begin with.

We need them for all types of fiction and non-fiction. We need them for our blogs and other publications. But there are times even the most prolific creators can feel stuck and uninspired or they can get lost  in their search for an angle that hasn’t been done way too often.

The list I gathered offers what I do, and should do more of, to find ideas. While I get quite a few intriguing ideas without even trying (when the magical “what if……? “questions seem to come out of nowhere), most of them come through a lot of effort.

1)      Go through your old posts on your blog.

What have you covered? What else should you cover? Should you update existing posts? Or are there posts that you need to turn into a series to make your advice more thorough and helpful?

*If you don’t have a blog, you might want to read 6 Reasons Why Every Writer Should Blog.

2)      Go through your pitches. Maybe they landed you assignments. Maybe they didn’t. The ones that didn’t might be lying down somewhere forgotten because of the depression mode you got into due to rejection.

Is it possible that you targeted the wrong markets, you just got better at querying in time or you’ve just discovered other markets that could be interested in those ideas?

Recycle, improve upon and use those ideas.

3)      Go through your published articles. You probably know more now than you did then. Do you think there could be another slant hidden there somewhere? Can you use the same research to write other articles around the same topic?

4)      Study the markets you are interested in, focusing on titles, reading the articles, focusing on the slants/angles. There’s a chance you’ll disagree with some points, and develop an article idea on that. For instance, I came up with my Freelance Switch article How Coffee Shops Can Make the Best Substitute Offices after reading a few articles on the site that covered libraries and co-working spaces. Since I have a couple of favorite coffee shops I switch back and forth (in addition to my home office) where I worked productively, I decided to make a post of it.

5)      Study the markets you find interesting, even the ones you think you may not write for. They might inspire you for fiction and slants. You might even think of an idea for them. You never know.

6)      Recycling/revamping your ideas lists. You need to check your list of ideas regularly for updates and editing. You may have written about some of them, you might find inspiration while looking at the others. If you have used all of it, go ahead and delete it. Now you’ve updated yourself about some of the things you’ve already covered.

7)      Watch TV shows and movies without switching off the writer in you. I’m a sucker for an engaging story, and I am running an entertainment blog, so I am tuning off the productivity tips about watching less TV. Of course keep in mind that I hate reality TV, and I quit or fast-forward a show the moment it stops being interesting.

How do they make good posts, you ask? Below are some articles that were inspired by them:

On story analysis:

         Crying for a Good Story, by PJ Reece  (on Good Will Hunting)

-          Two New Movies That Demonstrate Story Physics by Larry Brooks (on Lincoln and The Sessions.)

On delicious conflicts:

-          Most Enthralling Story Conflicts & Dilemmas: The Ledge – Kill Yourself or Your Loved One Will Be Killed

-          Your Daughter’s a Liar or Your Best Friend’s a Pervert: Most Enthralling Story Conflicts 2 – The Hunt

On inspiration:

-          The CSI Guide to Finding Your Next Killer Idea – A Guide for Bloggers by Pippa

Having fun analyzing fictional writers:

-          Writer Character from 27 Dresses – Getting Involved with Your Source

I have so much fun doing this, I have an entire category dedicated to it.

8)      Talk to professionals in different areas that you are interesting in writing about.

9)      Make a list of your failures. Some of the most popular posts were born through author mistakes.

10)   Make a list of your accomplishments. See what topics you can dig up from there.

11)   Go through the “finding ideas” posts on sites you love, bookmark /print out the ones you find useful (that include tips you don’t already put to use or haven’t tried yet.)

Two good examples would be Where Oh Where Are All the Good Article Ideas? from Writing World and 50 Ways for Writers to Find Article Ideas from Susan Jonhston.

12)   Find a great “writing headlines” source and think in terms of titles, getting  article ideas from them. Try Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline Hacks.

13)   Analyze characters from novels you love. Think about them. Maybe they can tell you something. Lots of fun dating article ideas can be born from them, such as:

How Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Matthew Macfadyen’s Darcy Ruined Women Forever

14)   Think about the jobs you hated/you loved.

15)   Think about your career progress. I realized that for me, a combination of a part-time teaching job and writing worked wonders. You bet I wrote a story about it: One Freelance Writer’s Surprising Strategy for a Revved-Up Career. It was published on Carol Tice’s Make a Living Writing blog.

16)   Write about songs. Especially if you’re writing about music, the ideas are endless.

17)   Rant.

18)   Find things in common between Blockbusters/best-sellers and your writing topic.

19)   Never turn off your creativity switch. Even if you are just watching a celebrity interview on YouTube.

20)   Collect the best list posts on your chosen subject. Bookmark them, study them. Focus more on the information you haven’t internalized.

21)   Gather your ideas in one place and look through them occasionally. Add, subtract, improve. It’s hard to keep track of them all when they are scattered on post-its, notebooks, word files and so on.

22)   Cover your favorite resources. I do it often here. It helps me restudy the material, gives me something relevant to write about and helps me share valuable information with readers.

Some of my review posts are:

Resources for Writers & Bloggers:Travel Blogger Academy Review

E-book Review: Crafting Unforgettable Characters by K.M. Weiland

Write Great Fiction Dialogue with Gloria Kempton

23)   Cover stuff that inspired you.

Paul Arden’s Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite -The Bedside Book for Creativity, Motivation and Life Management

24)    Write case studies.

25)   Brainstorm niches, and then brainstorm further from those niches. Here’s a great list from All Freelance Writing to get you started: 101 Niches to Write About.

26)   Think in “how (to) ” terms.

It works wonders especially if you back it up with a real life success story.

You might try How I Made 6 Figures as a Freelance Writer in 2011 from Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing.

27) Think about  how not to do something.  Think about what not to do. Or the reasons why you shouldn’t be doing that. And start taking notes.

28)   Gather your favorite resources in a list.

You might want to check out 60 Resources for Freelance Writers by Jennifer Mattern on All Freelance Writing.

29)   Share success stories, and it doesn’t have to about writers.

Like I did with How Mads Mikkelsen and Gerard Butler Can Motivate Writers Like Hell: The Ultimate Gerard Butler and Mads Mikkelsen Guide to Freelance Success.

30)   Find inspiring, fun and useful templates/how-to (e) books and work your way through them. I really like Steph Auteri’s Freelance Awesome: A Starter Kit and Thursday Bram’s New Ideas on Old Topics. They can be acquired through their sites, and they are free.

Inspiration: Johnny B. Truant’s How To Be Legendary

Normal? What do you mean normal?

image via rogerogreen.com

“There are two types of people: those who think they are normal, and those who know there’s no such thing.”

I love this quote, and recently I heard it again from Jeff Daniels’ character in the series Newsroom. I couldn’t get into the show, but I’m happy it reminded me of the quote.

I hate the term normal, because it is relative, invented by societies and cultures, and tons of people just kept trying to match up to it, without even questioning it. And the lot that questions it often gives up without trying enough, or believing that they can change anything.

The most common “normal” seems to be having a good job in a respectable corporation, climbing up the ladder while paying off a mortgage, having 2 kids and making a marriage work. Of course as time passes by, people work more and more, see those kids less, expect more from them (since they will face even a harsher competition for the best corporate jobs), have less fun and the vicious cycle continues. They do treat themselves to expensive stuff and some luxury holidays if they can afford it, without ever being able to appreciate it.

Bleak, right? I never wanted a corporate job. I never wanted a full-time job. I never believed marriage or having kids is a must. You want to get married? Fine. You want to have kids? Fine. But there is nothing wrong with doing things the way you want to.

And because I don’t want these things, I have been considered to be different/quirky/strange/eccentric by my friends and most of my family. They always believed that it is a temporary phase, just like I was expected to stop caring about the music that plays in the background. To get a stable job. To have a panicking biological clock because I’m past 25. What the hell?

I don’t fit in, because I have different dreams and plans. I aim to make it big as a writer, and even if I don’t, I’ll keep working as a writer. I’ll continue freelancing, writing those novels and screenplays, traveling and having the time of my life doing these. Of course this can be a lonely road since people around you either think you are crazy, or appreciate your guts and wish they could join you, but they won’t. It’s safer to stick to “normal” and “expected.”

So you do feel the need to read/meet people who feel the same way about things. People who do their own thing, and lead the life they want to lead. Johnny B. Truant is one of them.

On Johnny

I first came across his writing while reading Copyblogger where he guest-posts, but frankly, I could never really relate until I read his “Why Your Blog Is Going Nowhere (and the Truth about Getting Traffic).” on Jon Morrow’s boostblogtraffic.

Now don’t think that it is going to be the same old post. Just because everybody has discovered the draw of the “how-not-to-succeed/what-you-are-doing-wrong” sort of posts, don’t think his going to be similar. For one, he is blunt and uncensored. He also gives a lot of tough love, taking into consideration that it might just not be applying the wrong strategy, but you might also suck as a writer. Ouch.

But he does give advice that will work (if you apply them) whatever your problems might be. Now, I never let a good post go to waste-meaning I don’t just read and forget about it. I check the links, and see if the author is taking his own advice. I also read the posts the links take me to, because I always end up finding valuable resources and ideas for my writing. There’s also the benefit of reading more, which in turn makes you a more informed, varied and prolific writer.

So I did read the blog post he linked to, the one about how he wrote and published a novel on Kindle in 29 days, and the uncensored one (the other one he linked to,) and I decided, again, that he knew what he was talking about, and that I liked how he was talking about it. So I downloaded his free e-book How To Be Legendary.

HOW TO BE LEGENDARY – Review and Quotes

Image via johnnybtruant.com.

 

His analogies about Matrix got to be the second thing I liked about the series, the first one being Keanu Reeves. I might be alone in this, but I wasn’t remotely into the world where Neo wasn’t a slave to- it was just as bleak and lifeless and full of weird characters as the first one he didn’t feel he belonged to.

But the enslaving world in the analogy is the “normal” life as we are expected to live, and the liberating path is the one we choose for ourselves. It might end up being “normal” but it is important that we chose it willingly, and will be happy that we chose it to the last second we have on earth.

It is honest, fun and in-your-face.

“You’ll get old and then you’ll die, so there’s no point in hedging your biggest bets. It’s truly now or never.”

Not only doesn’t he book reinvent the wheel, but he openly admits to it. He admits his own procrastination and the period where he did things for the wrong reasons, and how he made them right.

You aren’t probably going to get any epiphanies reading the book, but it is a great motivator if you are struggling to put in the work for what you want to do, or presenting that work to the outside world. It will also remind you of how legendary people actually got to be legendary, and that not everyone will put in the work they need to.

So the book is helpful, though not everyone might feel that way. It helps, and will help, only if you are ready to get going. Like I completed this post in the midst of a major cold I’m fighting off. And yeah, it is nice to feel on track instead of feeling depressed over the obstacles/excuses (aka the lack of energy/lack of time/lack of inspiration…)

“The ‘I don’t have time’ excuse is the lamest excuse to ever exist. It makes me angry, because it is so fragrantly bullshit.”

Pay extra attention to what he says about trying to make things perfect. You can find the book here.

6 Benefits of Traveling for Writers

traveling writer

Image via travelingchic.com.

I know I have been away for a while, but I am back with more inspiration, stored energy and happiness as well as writing tips.

I was in Sweden for 5 days for the Herrang Dance Camp, where I danced, danced and danced, and then I was off to Norway for 10 days to see some old friends.  While my on-and-off internet connection didn’t allow me to publish while I was there, my notebooks got full of ideas. One of those ideas was the benefits traveling provides to writers so here we go:

1)      Inspiration - for both fiction and non-fiction. Traveling brings more muses than I can count. The scenery, the languages, culture, meeting new people, visiting the new and revisiting the old, seeing old friends…Not to mention experiencing my first (swing) dance festival. I’m bursting with ideas and like most writers, the more ideas I have, the happier I am.

 

2)      Potential to sell (travel) articles and make money. Naturally, travelling brings many ideas for travel markets, whether be in print or on the web.

 

I took as many pictures as I could- it was easier, faster and more detailed than writing things down every time I wanted to take a note of something. So now I have many pictures to derive ideas and slants from. I’m also organizing a big list of paying travel markets which I’ll happily share once it is finished.

 

3)      Motivation to write and sell more productively. It’s easier to get caught in the latest social media article, Facebook status update or what to write in the blog that is fun, but doesn’t really make you money.

But once you’ve spent 2 weeks in 2 expensive countries, you are back with a rested and fresh mind, as well as more motivation to work more efficiently and concentrate on gigs that will make you money. After all, not only did you spend a lot, but you were also reminded of how awesome traveling is.

So there is a chance you will be planning your next trip before you get back. I know I did. So more money means more traveling which brings more ideas and inspiration, making you a happier and fitter writer…Yes, traveling has its perks indeed.

 

4)     Fitness.  Oh, about the fitness. I’m a 27-year-old female who was going abroad for 2 weeks, to a much colder climate (the temperature was an average of 17 Celsius in July!) and trying to make sure I didn’t exceed the 20kg limit my ticket allowed me. I didn’t want to pay extra, plus carrying more than 20kgs is not exactly fun.

 

But trying to get everything you need (since it is a camp, I needed to bring my sheets and stuff), plus a few things you want (make-up essentials, party clothes)…let’s just say I lost some weight just packing and repacking and then trying to zip it all up.

 

I always get fitter in the process of packing. Not to mention all the power-walking I had to do at the airport to catch flights, buy gifts and window-shop…Then of course there is all the walking you have to do while sightseeing and voila!!!

Despite all the candy I sinfully consumed, I am back having lost 2kgs. Yes, I love traveling.

(To be fair though, I did dance like crazy for 5 days, and there were 2 concerts in the second week.)

 

5)      Authenticity if you want to write a story with characters from those countries and/or stories taking place there. It’s amazing how much your vocabulary can improve when you pay attention. You can also notice the tones, attitudes, approaches and interactions.

 

6)      Extra writing time. While I didn’t do that much writing, I still took advantage of the time between flights, waiting for the plane to take-off or the 15-20 minutes I needed to relax my body. It’s not much, but because you don’t have the time for distraction, it is efficient. Plus it feels a bit more fun, given the change in location. Somehow I got the best idea on how to start my novel while I was in Sweden, while I wasn’t thinking about the novel…which, by the way, takes place in New York. Inspiration is a funny thing.

 

Traveling is great for so many reasons, and even more so for writers. I don’t know where I’ll go next, but I can’t wait to do it again. How is your relationship with traveling?

Inspiration Caught This Freelance Writer Big Time

inspiration-moment, writing inspiration, inspiration for writers

Image via copyblogger.com

I can’t believe my last post was a month ago.  I’m so sorry about that. But I have a valid excuse: I was listening to my own advice (I’m a big fan of practicing what I preach.) Inspiration and motivation were chasing me at record speed so I willingly surrendered. I’m not saying that I didn’t get any valuable ideas to share here. I did. But I wanted to keep a really good record of every idea and goal so I jotted down a lot, changed my mind a couple of times about which contests to enter, wrote my drafts and I’m back. And I promise not to stay away for so long again.

Inspiration-struck Me:

–          I have had these two fun screenplay ideas (actually I’d written the first drafts a long time ago) for ages but there was no way I’d be able to format them in time for the Big Break Contest organized by *Final Draft (a screenwriting software I’ve been happily using whose review I’ll post soon).

 

But Big Break’s *extended deadline is 15th June, they want the full script and the awards are nothing short of amazing. But my two scripts need adjustments in many areas, and there is no way they will be fit for a contest until the deadline.

 

Then I realized that I could enter the Script Pipeline’s Great Idea contest, where you are allowed to write anything from a logline to a treatment of 3-5 pages.

 

So guess what? Currently I’m writing 2 treatments and editing them. I’ll then submit & keep my fingers crossed. And even though I don’t get to be a finalist, I’ll have two very clear ideas on how I want to outline the story, and relive the events and my characters. Of course I won’t be sitting on these screenplays afterwards.

 

–          I have some upcoming fun and useful writing posts.

 

–          I have some wonderful movie post (for my entertainment blog) ideas, based on the romantic in me. It’s all Forget Me Not’s fault really. I can no longer delay those posts, such as the most romantic & original marriage proposal in a movie.

 

 

–          My favorite TV shows are either over or on a seasonal break- which incidentally is on its way to be another post here. Oh yes, it is perfectly writing-relevant, trust me.

 

–          I’m planning a two week trip to Norway and Sweden which motivated me further to pitch and research more efficiently.

 

Not only is it a specific deadline challenge, but also its blows to the budget will provide more incentive to increase my freelance income. Not just because I will spend a lot, but I’ll want to go on a travelling spree again very soon.

Yes, I confess, I am addicted to traveling, nearly as much as I’m addicted to writing and entertainment.

 

There’s more, but let that be another post.

 

How has your writing been going?

 

  • Please note that extended deadlines typically mean increased entrance fees.
  • The links in these posts aren’t affiliate links, just the direct links to the contest information pages.

When Inspiration Is Chasing You, Get Caught!

Image via classic-car-history.com

 

I have a deadline for 2 travel posts. I have a more pressing deadline for a writing contest whose early bird deadline I ignored because I wanted the manuscript to be flawless (not that “flawless” really exists for a writer or an editor.) Of course there is the novel I have been trying to finish for months (which was originally intended to finish in line with Writer’s Digest’s 90 Days to Your Novel), and two contests that I found about much too late, but I’m dying to enter (or at least brainstorm a good idea for later use) anyway.

And guess what I’m inspired to write instead? Blog posts for my own blogs. Yes, I love my blogs and writing for them. It is always great to present good new content to your audience, and it definitely helps your blogs’ ranking and traffic if you publish new and interesting content more often. But whenever I make a schedule for my blog posts, I am inspired to write anything but.

When I want to concentrate on my novel, I find myself writing blog posts or working on a story that was written before but will be reformatted.

So I decided to run with the flow.

But if you have to write one thing before the other, and that pressure (of the deadlines) is making you not write at all, it is better to write what you are inspired to than write nothing at all.

I’m a big fan of chasing inspiration, but sometimes inspiration has other ideas, and it wants to reach you for different ideas and stories than the one you need to work on. Don’t let it go. Write it down, and even if you don’t have the time to write all of it, write the most crucial part so that you can make it work when you come back to it.

If you ignore inspiration because you are waiting for another kind, there is a chance it will ignore you for a longer time-even when you are trying to chase it.

So I’m off to writing that TV series post now. What do you feel like writing at this very moment?

To wait for inspiration? Or to chase it? That’s the question.

 

waiting

Above: A writer waiting for inspiration to start writing. Image via kateevangelistarandr.blogspot.com

Some people love to chase. While I am not a big fan of chasing when it comes to dating, chasing inspiration is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a writer.

I love it when inspiration comes by itself.  When I have a magical A-HA! moment. When an idea comes by itself and not when I was brainstorming, forcing my brain to fix a plot problem. When it comes unannounced, unexpected and gives me the rush to start writing it right there and then. And even if I can’t start at that moment, I am smart enough to take enough notes so that I don’t let it get away.

Except this rarely happens to me. Especially when writing fiction. An exciting, entertaining idea doesn’t just come on its own. An idea- typically an ordinary one- comes when I think about what I want to write about. I know I want this ordinary situation or character in some way, but I don’t want it to be ordinary. No, I am not contradicting myself.

OK, think about it like this. You want to write about cancer. But you don’t want to go down the old, depressive, tragic, “what-have-I-done-to-deserve-this route”. Or the “I’m-already-dead-might-as-well-go-all-self-destructive route”.

Instead, your character decides to make the most of her life right there and then. She finds out humorous, practical and innovative ways to deal with her son and husband. She doesn’t care that much about saving money any more. She buys a red convertible – which will go to her son after he reaches a certain age. See how she lived for the moment, without screwing up anyone’s future? She also has workers build the swimming pool she always wanted. Impulsive? Yes. Irrational? No. If anything, this will increase the value of the house.

Did the plot sound familiar? Well, it is the plot of the comedy/drama show The Big C starring Laura Linney. Before watching it, I remember thinking        “Humor in cancer? Right. Like that could happen!” But it has, and the show turned out to be really good and unique.

Isn’t this more interesting than typical ways of grieving?

This happens to me a lot. I respond to my ideas by changing the core of the story, changing the sex of the main character, shaking stereotypes, or adding some unexpected traits to the archetype. Victoria Connelly did a wonderful example of this by creating a writer character in her book “A Weekend with Mr. Darcy”.

In the book, the main character is Lorna Warwick – a modern day, famous author of best-selling Jane Austen style novels. But of course Lorna is the pen name and the writer is actually a guy. And he is not gay or a nerd. He is a masculine, heterosexual, sexy guy who hides behind the persona – and does adrenaline-inducing outdoor activities with his friends while he is not writing. And best of all…his interest in Jane Austen, and his novels, is genuine.

A Weekend with Mr. Darcy may not be the best book ever-created but I really liked the male protagonist being a guy’s guy and loving Jane Austen, and her characters, as much as the next gal. And guess what? Connelly has been published many times.

Where did the inspiration for this article come from? It came while I was reading this Writer’s Digest article about how not to write a novel, and one of the best ways to do it was to wait for inspiration. I am trying to write a novel and yet after all this time creating stories, I still tend to make the mistake of waiting for inspiration. The article stroke a chord and I wrote about it.

So an article about writing inspiration came when I was studying writing (so I could write my novel better and I could get to know the magazine enough to pitch great queries.) Not when I was doing something totally unrelated, or not doing anything at all.

While inspiration might occasionally do the favor of dropping by out of thin air, it mostly loves to be chased with vengeance. So you can just start writing about anything in anyway…and spice things up later.

If there is something that bothers me than writing something ordinary…it is not writing at all. The name of this blog is not a coincidence. I truly am addicted to writing. And while ordinary can be changed into extraordinary through trial and error, extraordinary isn’t born from nothing.

My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend’s Writer Ethan: Finding Love, Inspiration & Getting Published

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend starring Alyssa Milano, Michael Landes & Christopher Gorham

My Girlfriend's Boyfriend starring Alyssa Milano, Michael Landes, Christopher Gorham. Writer Ethan is on the left. Image via amazon.

My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Writing Character: Ethan played byChristopher Gorham

Ethan is a writer who can’t get published. His last novel is turned down because it is not realistic enough where it matter (and it is also not appealing enough to women’s fantasies of Mr. Right. ) Baffled and ready to give up, he goes to a café. There he meets the beautiful Jesse (Alyssa Milano). They like each other, and she says that she is all the inspiration he needs. They start dating, Ethan keeps writing.

Unbeknownst to Ethan, however, Jesse is also dating Troy (Michael Landes) – a guy who seems to be Mr. Right personified:  He is a successful advertising executive with his own company whereas Ethan is living rent free in his flat as long as he performs his super duties.

Jesse feels bad, as she starts falling for both and both men start falling for her. She will have to choose pretty soon….

The Novel, and The Movie Twist

(This part of the post features spoilers for the movie.  You can read the unspoiled review for the movie on my entertainment blog.)

The movie has us believe that Jesse is a two-timing girl who doesn’t quite deserve wither of these too-good-to-be men. But as it turns out, Jesse is not two-timing. Troy doesn’t exist.

Troy is the male protagonist Ethan creates to please his publisher, who just happens to be the improved version of Ethan. And while we often see Jesse conflicted, it is never openly said that she needs to choose between two guys. As it turns out, while she has been keeping a secret from Ethan only to ensure his happiness, it is not about another man.

So Ethan doesn’t give up fighting for Jesse in the end. He also doesn’t give up writing his novel- which finally gets him a publishing deal. We learn about “Troy” the moment Ethan provides us with the manuscript called Troy Meets Girl.

A Romantic Movie with a Creative Ending, and a Fictional Writer We Can Be Inspired By

While I was rooting for Ethan the entire time (both for his book and girl), I could also totally see what the publisher was talking about. We don’t want to finish a romantic novel or a movie and say “That would never happen”.  We want to say “That might happen, and I hope it happens to me”. And that is what the movie does.

Can we believe a decent guy being a writer, barely making ends meet but yet reluctant to make ends meet? Absolutely. Can we buy Christopher Gorham as a cute, albeit not gorgeous, movie lead? Definitely. And we can definitely see that his character is realistic. As sweet as he is, he is still a guy who loves Star Wars, hates musicals and can’t really see why the girls can’t get sick of Mr. Darcy.

So while it is not the best movie out there, it is inspiring, uplifting and motivating- whether you want to find The One, or make your writing dreams come true. Give it a shot- both to the movie and your writing. OK, especially to your writing.

If you liked this post, you might want to read posts from my Fictional Writers: Writer Characters in Movies, TV Series and Books category.

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