Inspiration and Concentration

Many writers know, too well, the feeling of not wanting to write, of losing interest in a project, of losing steam. It’s depressing, sitting in front of your computer or paper and staring for what feels like endless hours without putting a single word down. Your muse has left! You’re wasting your time! It’s hopeless, pointless!

And yet, we’ve all been on the exact opposite side of that experience. You know, when the words tumble through your mind faster than you can write them and you worry you’ll lose pieces, and when it all pours onto the page as fast as you can write or type? It’s a heady rush of creation, truly inspired, and impossible to stop.

But for the most part we walk a middle ground, trudging along, putting one word behind the other to make sentences that are more than passible. The question becomes, how do we stay motivated? How do we stay inspired? How to we keep ourselves from falling into that rut where no creation takes place?

Everyone has a method that works for them: music, a new project, junk food, wine, a good book, a Facebook marathon, a television marathon, video games … you name it, an author has tried it. Sometimes, like with music or junk food, it’s something we do while writing to stay on track. Other times it’s something we do between writing to keep our minds fresh and motivated.

Right now I’m not writing, I’m editing. And to top it off, I’m doing contract editing so it’s not even my own work. Very little inspiration is needed right now, leaving my mind free to ponder all the ideas I have in the works. What I need now is concentration, and it’s amazing how similar my symptoms of lack of concentration are to my symptoms of lack of inspiration. Maybe inspiration and concentration are closely linked. Maybe that awful lack of productivity has less to do with a runaway muse and more to do with an desire to be anywhere but in my chair working.

(I should be editing and instead I’m writing this blog – hmm)

So, if the symptoms are similar, and if the causes are linked, then maybe, just maybe, the treatment can be the same. And since walking away from this job and browsing Facebook or watching television with my 3-year old are not options (because I’m on a deadline and need the money for this contract) that leaves music, junk food, and wine.

I’m going with all three – I’ll dig up a CD, find some chips and salsa, or pistachios, and a glass of wine, and maybe I’ll be able to spend the rest of my 18-month-old’s nap time editing. This is my writer’s craft experiment of the day. I’ll let you know how it works out for me.

Signing off (in search of good music, better junk food, and cheap wine) …

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