Uncovering hidden inspiration to write

Jessi + Marie/ June 15, 2018/ Writing Process/ 0 comments

When you’ve been working on the same story for five years, you begin to notice the cycles of creativity and inspiration. Sometimes we’ll hammer out thousands of words in a single day. Other times, months will pass before we even open the document.

Not the most efficient way to write a novel, we know.

But between busy schedules, running a business, and maintaining our personal relationships, time often gets away from us. And while we always dedicate a spot on our calendar to writing time, it’s been easy to replace it with something else when we aren’t particularly inspired. We’ll get to that later. Uh huh.

Turns out waiting for inspiration to strike doesn’t get you very far (which is why we’re sitting here, five years later, just 20k words into our most recent rewrite, rather than sitting on a published manuscript).

We believe in our idea. We’re obsessed with the Grigori and the implications of their world. But we still needed a little nudge to actually do anything with that belief.

The first nudge came in the form of writing groups. In January, both of us began to attend in-person writing critique groups in our local areas (Marie in Albuquerque and Jessi in Greater Los Angeles). This put the pressure on to actually write. Going to our respective writing groups regularly meant that people were actively waiting for new content. We hate to disappoint, so we always try to bring something new.

The second nudge came more recently, when Marie decided to attend a writer’s conference. It was the first time either of us had ever been to a conference of this type, and this one felt like an especially good fit, since it catered to fantasy and science fiction writers. Marie learned a ton, met great people, and got to practice pitching our manuscript to a publisher.

Most excitingly, she discovered two tools to help us get over our creative ruts.

First was a plot-planning mechanism taught by Melinda Snodgrass to help “gardeners” or “pantsers” (writers who write by the seat of their pants) put structure in place around their story.

Second was a deep-dive into the political conflict within our novel, courtesy of fantasy romance author Jeffe Kennedy. As Jeffe points out, politics are interesting because they say so much about the human condition, human interactions, and human desires (which — surprise! — aren’t always in perfect harmony with each other).

Those two talks in particular have given us the framework and tools we needed to iron out some big ol’ remaining plot question marks — plus the inspiration we needed to get back to writing more regularly.

In fact, for the first time ever, we’ve been able to set aside a little time each day (20-40 minutes) to write in the morning before we start our day job. Our writing is faster, more focused, and more intentional.

How do you keep moving forward on projects when you’re not feeling inspired?

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