Latest Inspiration: Research, Travel, Music & the Writer’s Journey

There is no perfect time to write. There is only now. -Barbara Kingsolver

There is no perfect time to write. There is only now.
-Barbara Kingsolver

It has been quite a while since my last post, but for good reason – life is NUTS! My online biz project is moving along and although we won’t make the May 1st goal, we’re not really worried since we are getting the work done. I’ve been writing lots of content for it and even though it’s not the most interesting thing in the world to write about, after churning out dozens of pages, I find that it does become fun in its own way (and I am a LOT faster at writing than I used to be. For those of you who don’t know, I still consider myself a beginner in many ways and last year when I started writing content for websites and small businesses, I would spend 2-3 days writing and revising a piece – TOTALLY TERRIFIED of making one tiny mistake. And there were dozens of them. But now, not so much. I suppose my thoughts are clearer from practice and I find far less typos than I used to. I can easily crank out 3-5 pieces in a day).

I’m still managing the social media for another company and because they are so creative and cool, I LOVE it! I make graphics for their Instagram and Facebook, and design and write content for their newsletters.

Another cool tidbit is that although I decided to put my creative writing project down until after May, I’ve been writing a little in my spare time. In spite of all this wonderfulness, it just annoys the absolute (fill in the blank) out of me that I haven’t finished it. I have to this year, I just HAAVVVVEEE to. Anyway, I’ve been writing scenes (or scene screenplays as I’ve heard them called by Susan Dennard). Here’s the link to her post – it’s awesome and I particularly LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her explanation of magical cookies! And below I’ll tell you about the most awesome thing that’s happened to me this year (well, in regards to my book!).

Here are a four things/people/moments I’ve been DEEPLY inspired by lately!

  1. Research

I have many mixed thoughts about research at this point, but still find it inspiring to my work). As someone who is writing a historical fiction piece, it is an absolute must (unless you are a genius, psychic or own a time-traveling machine). How can you really show the story if you don’t have a near innate understanding of how life operated in the world you’re writing about? So, yes, it is a must. But being informed enough to get the juices flowing and being inundated to the point of finding yourself uninspired because there’s so much information swimming around upstairs are two VERY, VERY different things. Unfortunately, a while back I found myself experiencing the later one.

One of my earlier writing teachers warned me. He warned me several times about researching something to death. Don’t do it! he’d say. But did I listen? Hell no. I went on that train and never got off. Until, that is, I was so overwhelmed and uninspired by the one story that had inspired more than any story I’d ever heard in my whole life. Then I stopped. And not just the research – I also stopped the project. But that is OK. It was a much needed break and stepping away gave me a LOT of fresh ideas, turning out to be one of the best moves I’ve ever made. I cut characters out, took out scenes, changed the narrator. All were very positive changes and I think they came about because of the break. However, during my hiatus, I vowed to put the research away and just write. Let the magic come back. (Pat on back!)

Until…. (loud screech and crash)

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit a library a few hours away. It houses many original books related to the story I’m writing about. Many of these I can’t buy or find elsewhere, so a golden opportunity, right? I JUMPED at the chance and was it ever worth it! I struck gold. Of all the books and papers and research I’ve compiled and read, nothing was more eye opening than a 60 page introduction I found in a reprinting of my subject’s journals. The author was so thorough (SOOOO THOROUGH!) Seriously, it would take me years to filter and distill thousands of pages to get what he so eloquently wrote in 60 pages (it did actually take him 9 years to compile his data). I won’t go into all the details because I think it would be quite boring for most people, but the magic moment was realizing that for the first time, my characters all came down to earth and were brought to life! Everyday things I wondered about — how they moved and operated in their world for instance — he had written. The list of questions I’ve kept in the back of my notebook is now empty thanks to this wonderful soul who dedicated 9 years of his life to write this piece. So I can officially say, in a way I have NEVER been able to so far, I. AM. FINISHED. RESEARCHING. Amen!


2. Travel

In other news, I went away with my husband to one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever been to. It was 4 days of bliss – soaking up the sun (which I do not get nearly enough of), walking along the ocean, strolling through the little towns, and enjoying AMAZING food. What does this have to do with writing, you ask? EVERYTHING. I haven’t been on vacation for a very long time and was shocked by how many new, fresh ideas crossed my mind by getting out of my environment. It was so powerful, in fact, that when I finally do finish my book, I’m taking myself away for a weekend to edit. As one of my teachers told me, there is great beauty in stepping away from a project. I think traveling gives a double dose of that!

3. Music

I’m a music junkie and lately I’ve been back on 8 Tracks (you can listen to my playlist here). And I’ve also discovered some other awesome playlists! Checkout one of my new favs – You’re a WriterIt is GOOD.

I’m also constantly updating my writing playlist on Youtube, which you can find here. Today I added an old favorite: the theme from Inception. Isn’t it the BEST feeling to rediscover a favorite song? Yeah, I had that moment today. Bliss.

4. The Writer’s Journey

As probably every other writer does, I’m constantly looking up info online to learn more about the craft. Dialogue, world building, portraying historical fiction accurately, creating emotional dominoes, outlining, etc. And I will probably continue to read these books and posts for the rest of my life because all it takes sometimes is a new way of hearing the same thing to grasp what it means on a deeper level. And yes, these new bits of information are inspiring and all that jazz, but what I have found to be DEEPLY inspiring lately is to read about a particular writer’s journey: young adult author, Sarah J. Maas. She started writing her first novel at 16 and has blogs dating back to 2008 on her Livejournal. There are tips here and there, plus links to good content and LOTS of awesome music recs. (I seriously beefed up my playlist after finding these!)

But, that’s not really why her blog is so awesome and inspiring. The reason it’s so awesome and inspiring is because she journaled her journey from writer (SERIOUS writer, I might add) to present day NYT bestselling author of several, several books. And she’s so fun to read. A lovely, lively blogger and wonderful writer! You will be amazed by how quickly she writes and moves through projects, and at the very least, it will light a fire under your ass. I’ve been very inspired by her process, discipline and journey into publishing. You know the adage “if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else”? Well, SJM believes in herself in the best kind of way – love and passion for the story. And her success speaks for it. I recommend going back to her earliest available post (I think she’s taken down her early, early ones) from 2008 and making your way through them to present day. I keep it bookmarked on my phone and read a few when I’m soaking in the bathtub at the end of the day.

Anyway, I highly recommend checking out her livejournal  and her books! I just started reading Throne of Glass and CAN’T. PUT. IT. DOWN.

Well this has become a very long post, so I’ve going to close here. Hope you’re enjoying Spring and please drop a comment about where you find inspiration!



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