Kicking the week off a bit differently here. Where do you find inspiration for your writing? I find my life so full some days that it's hard to hear myself over the clatter.
I've mentioned the quiet moments--they help a bit with concentration, but inspiration is often elusive. I do first need to find a quiet space. It doesn't have to be quiet around me, but I need to be somewhere that no one needs anything from me. I can't engage with anyone else if I'm trying to tune into myself.
If I've found quiet, I pull out my notebook and make myself start to scribble. Even if I'm writing something like this: "I don't know what to write about. I don't have anything to say. My mind is blank. I don't have any ideas..." Inevitably, it will lead to something.
Why don't I have any ideas?
I feel exhausted.
Why is that?
It's the end of the week, the baby was sick, my husband and I worked overtime, the kitchen sink was clogged for three days and the counters are full of dishes and bottles we couldn't wash...
Okay, so I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. Not all that inspiring, but maybe there will be something to that laundry list of complaints that I can return to some other time. For now, I want to change my focus.
I think about what makes my heart race. What terrified me recently?
I think about what catches my breath. What made me reach for my son's hand? My husband's solid arms?
I think about what makes me laugh. What pranks did my college roommates pull? How many times were we locked out of the apartment and stuck for hours with nothing to do? What filled our moments then?
I force myself to get something on the page. And then, if I still notice that I am doing the work of writing, if I haven't fallen into the hole of my scene or my story, I take a break. Walk the dog, watch the baby sleep. Flip through a magazine or watch an episode of a television show.
Or, I imagine I'm telling my son a story (or, actually tell him one if he's awake). Children's stories don't really need to make sense. They can be disjointed and full of wild and crazy characters and pointless plots. There's no judgment. The act of putting a series of words together on the fly is so often the way I stumble into my favorite stories.
What doesn't work? Reading. I have yet to return to a piece I started if I take a reading break. I ALWAYS look up after "just a few minutes" to discover that its 2 am and the baby has woken. Oops.
I also can't simply stare at the blank page and wait. In fact, usually I begin writing on a page that already has text on it. (Even if they aren't my own words on the page). This allows me to start out already feeling ahead of things. All I have to do then is keep the momentum going, free of the pressure of starting from scratch.
What works (or doesn't) for you?