Monday, March 4, 2013

Forced inspiration

I had a friend ask me this week how I was able to write every day during my son's nap time. "Don't you need inspiration? Don't you have to wait until the mood hits?" she asked.

Before I had Nathan, I was able to do that. I woke up late, ate breakfast and started writing in my jammies. I would write until I ran out of ideas (or coffee) and then go work out, take a shower, meet a friend for lunch, etc. Then I'd come home and spend the rest of the day writing.

Now, things look a little different. My only writing time is for the 2 hours Nathan naps and very rarely when he's busy playing and I can sneak a few words in.

So...all inspiration is forced inspiration.

It doesn't come naturally to me. It may not to you either. But here's how to make the most of your writing time, whether that's 15 minutes before the kids get up or the entire day:

1. Plan ahead.

I do a lot better when I plan my day to include writing time. That means that dinner prep is done, laundry is done or I can at least take a break from it, and the house is relatively picked up by the time I lay Nathan down because I have absolutely NO motivation to write in a messy house or when there are other things to do.

2. Be consistent.

I have a much harder time being inspired to write when I skip days. So, if I'm going to make it work on a deadline, I have to commit to writing Monday through Friday and I only allow myself the time off if I'm not feeling well or if I have "business" stuff like phone calls with editors or emails to respond to.

3. Prioritize.

It is way easy for me to get stuck on Pinterest or Facebook or even writing emails. So, I try my best to use those as "rewards" for reaching word counts. If I get to one thousand words written, I spend a few minutes on a break playing around the internet. Or I get up, make some tea or coffee or get a snack. Then I get back to work until Nathan wakes up.

4. Turn off the TV.

Sometimes I do better with background noise but not TV background noise. I get too distracted by the show. If you need noise, try listening to Pandora or sitting outside with your laptop for a few minutes.

5. Write.

Really, that's the key right there. You can have everything exactly situated for perfect inspirational writing and if you don't open the document and actually work, it's not going to happen. It took me a long time to see my writing for what it is - a job. Once I started looking at it like that, it made my "work hours" of 1:30PM to 3:45PM less about inspiration and more about actually typing.

How do you force inspiration?


  1. With 6 people (4 between the ages of 2 and 12) in our family, the floors are rarely toy-free (or Cheerio-free), the laundry is always behind, the sink is often full of dishes, homeschool lessons are constantly in progress, the bickering is cycling, the nap is only for the littlest....

    Writing IS my break. And I'd far rather write than fold laundry any day of the week....!!!!

    This was already my life before I carved out the time to write. (Now I just have an excuse for why dishes are not loaded yet.) If I kept up with all of it, a writing life would mean never sleeping. Ever.

    When I can steal a bit of time to write, I am usually inspired....because I spend shower time, driving time, cooking time, chore time (you get the idea), listening to the characters in my head. I see what they are doing, hear their conversations, observe their environment. Often, while my kids play and/or do their school work - I write. Or if I manage to wake before the kids my characters and laptop join me for coffee and perhaps a bagel.

    Unless I decide to get up at 5am to write (nd beleive me, I'm considering it), there are no set hours available to me for writing (storyland seems to shut down by 10 most nights unless something exciting is in progress). But in the meantime, I just force chunks of time around life as I know. :)

  2. I've heard so much about setting definite times for writing. It sounds so good, so right--so why do I *always* have something "better" to do? Pinterest, for example.

    Maybe it's like exercise. Before I committed to exercising 4-5 days a week and made it a solid, inflexible duty, I never got around to it. I guess I just need to buckle down and set a writing schedule. No matter what. Oh--and disconnect the internet!