Filling the Well

Sometimes an idea for a book comes from nowhere and demands that I tell its story. One of my works-in-progress was inspired by this out-of-the-blue idea: an angel dressed as a candy striper visits an old man in a nursing home and gives him the opportunity to go back in time for a second chance at love.

I love those flashes of inspiration. As a writer, it’s what gets my motor running.

But great ideas don’t morph out of the ether all that often. If I always waited for a story to come to me, I might be waiting a long time between ideas. Sometimes you have reach deep inside yourself, and pull that story out.

So I need to actively work at inspiring myself, to help me find ideas for stories, and to keep me motivated to write. How do I do that?

Reading always inspires me. If I read something particularly good I’ll think I want to write something this wonderful. Making time to read is not only a joy, it’s a necessity.

Sometimes a change of scenery will fuel inspiration. It can be as simple as taking my laptop outside on the deck on a beautiful summer day. I don’t often get a chance to travel to a location I want to use as a setting in a book, but when it happens, the ideas fire in all directions. Every year I spend a few days at a writing retreat. For three or four days, I can leave the world behind and fully concentrate on writing. It’s a wonderful luxury that inspires my creativity.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes taking a break from writing is exactly what I need to re-inspire and re-motivate. I can only push so far before the well dries up. In THE ARTIST’S WAY, Julia Cameron talks about filling that well. Maybe I’ll meet friends, or bake a pie, or go to an art gallery. Or perhaps some retail therapy is called for. I often find that after taking a short break to fill the well, I’m better able to work out a previously insurmountable plot problem.

Sometimes I’m inspired by remembering my past writing successes. I’ve come a long way, but I don’t always remind myself of that. Instead I concentrate on the things I’ve yet to accomplish. I need to be kinder to myself, because that inspires me much more than beating myself up.

Inspiration is important, of course. I believe inspiration provides us with the excitement and joy in our work. But never underestimate the power of perseverance and nose-to-the-grindstone hard work. That’s what takes us to ‘The End’.

How do you fill the well when you don’t have a drop of inspiration left?

P.S. I have a special offer for the month of September. Readers who sign up for my newsletter in the month of September will receive a free PDF copy of my contemporary romance RESCUE ME. Thank you!


Filling the Well — 6 Comments

  1. I mostly give it a day–no more–while I sulk and pout and determine that I’ll never write another word. If I still can’t get moving on the WIP, I write blog posts. Anything to be productive.

    But I’d rather travel…

  2. When I’m stuck, I do the same – work on some other writing project. But hey, travel can be very inspiring. Sometimes something you see or hear while on vacation will inspire a story. Or sometimes the setting itself begs you to tell its story. I’m dying to set a story in Hawaii for which I’ll have to do a lot of in-depth, on-location research. Preferably all winter long!

  3. I love it when inspiration strikes, but as you said, that doesn’t always happen. That’s where discipline is required for me. Like you, reading does inspire me to write. So does a really moving film or an intriguing television storyline. Travel inspires me, as well.

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