Week of September 18: Writer, Examine Thyself
Tuesday, September 20—10 Tasks to Help You Find Daily Inspiration
I hope you’re not one of those people who say, “I’m just not the creative sort.” If that’s really true, you would never have boarded the Writing Train. Creativity doesn’t mean that you’re a painter, or can knit, or that you dream up wild inventions. Creativity simple means you make something new. Each time you write, you are a being a creative genius. But even geniuses can feel like they are slowing down and creaking to a halt from time to time. That’s when we need a bit of inspiration. So, consider today’s inspirational task suggestions your oil and lube job to get your creative engine moving.
1. Commit to daily creativity. Do you know about Abbey Ryan? Every day (repeat—every day) since 2007, Abbey Ryan has painted a still life in oils. Every day. Every single day! (http://ryanstudio.blogspot.com/) This is a commitment to creativity. What is your daily commitment? A new manuscript? An hour of work? Three new ideas? Whatever it is, make the commitment and stick with it. Commitment to creative leads to inspiration.
2. Routines and rituals. Maybe you get up in the morning and have two cups of coffee to start your day and then you’re ready to write. Perhaps you read (or reread) two picture books each day as part of your morning ritual. Maybe you take a walk to get your body and mind aligned and moving. Perhaps you visualize success and repeat a phrase over and over. Find the routines and rituals that launch you into your writing day. Then follow them.
3. Find your creative spot. Two weeks ago, Lisa Wheeler told us how gardening, pulling weeds, and swimming laps were places she goes when needing ideas. I love cultural outings—a museum, an art fair, a flea market (ok, so not all that cultural). I also have a favorite beach that’s about forty-five minutes away. Just driving over the drawbridge to Pass-a-grille rejuvenates me and gets my creative juices flowing. Find your inspiration spot(s).
4. Breathing, meditation, and exercise. In my mind, Jamie Morris (http://www.woodstreamwriters.com/), is the reigning yoga queen (she holds other titles, too, however). Jamie knows more breathing, meditation, and stretching exercises than anyone I’ve ever met. She uses these exercises to get centered, focused, and to allow inspiration to bubble to the surface. (She uses the exercises for other reasons, too, for example good health and wellbeing!) So breathe. Meditate. Exercise. Be inspired. Be creative.
5. Visiting inspiration. I mentioned this above, but let me say it again . . . being around creativity and inspiration can lead to more creativity and inspiration. Maybe you see a touring Broadway show, watch a local production of Seussical the Musical, visit a craft fair, explore a new exhibit at the local college, or participate in an author talk at an independent bookstore. Find inspiration. Visit inspiration. Be inspired.
6. Daily readings. Getting centered through reading each day allows some writers to find their inspiration and creativity anew. I love quotes. So reading a few quotes from a collection works for me. Perhaps it’s reading the next chapter in a book about writing, such as Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books. I highly recommend Today I Will: A Year of Quotes, Notes and Promises to Myself by Eileen and Jerry Spinelli. Inspired by 366 quotes from children’s literature, the award-winning authors offer insight and advice for every day of the year. You look inside the book, turn to the page with today's date, read, and make a promise to yourself.
7. Accept inspiration on its terms. When and where inspiration strikes will always be a mystery. So always have to be ready to accept it and grab it in when it occurs. Always have paper and pen within reach to jot down your inspiration. When inspiration sparks a question, write down the question and mull it over. Don’t rush to an answer . . . ponder. Part of the inspiration process may not be finding the answer, but searching for all the possible answers.
8. Don’t let anyone "steal" your inspiration and creativity. I seldom tell the details of my writing. I only speak about my books in the most general of terms. I usually don’t let people look in my writing idea notebook. It’s not that I think someone is going to steal my ideas, it’s that these are special, sacred things. They came from my mind and heart. When they’re ready to be seen, they’ll be on a bookshelf! Until then, I keep them safe. (Exceptions are, of course: my critique groups, my mentors, my agent, and any and all editors interested in seeing my work!)
9. End the day with inspirational energy. For many years, I went to sleep with music playing—and to tell you the truth, it was the same song set on repeat so the song played over and over throughout the night. The song lulled me into a state of calm, released my brain from the pressures of the day, and freed me to think and dream. Other people leave their writing in mid-sentence so the next day they can pick up quickly and move on. Others have a nightcap, pray and meditate, or take the dog for a moonlit stroll. Inspiration can happen every minute of the day and night—even when you’re sleeping.
10. Get busy with it. Today’s post has been about actively pursuing inspiration. If you sit and wait for it to come, you may be sitting a long time. So get busy with it!