So, inspiration and concentration are connected. If we are inspired we write without distractions getting in. If we concentrate we write without distractions getting in. And in conclusion to my last post – couldn’t find any wine, pistachios are impossible to eat while writing because cracking pistachios takes two hands, and music is a God send that tripled my productivity even when I wasted some time watching bits of the movies my son was watching during quiet time.

Sometimes nothing will work. No matter how good the music or tasty the snack or readily available your beverage of choice, be it caffeine or alcohol, there are days when inspiration won’t come and concentration will be impossible.

So now you’re catching up on your blog reader (I appreciate that) and browsing Facebook, posting complaints that you just can’t find the words to complete your next chapter. Maybe your muse is trying to tell you something. A writer writes what they know, we’ve all heard that before, and it applies less to ‘facts’ then to feelings and the human condition. So, maybe, just maybe, if your muse has fled and your story fell flat you need to do some more research into the human condition.

And that’s not as hard as it sounds.

You have a choice to live your life as an inspiration to your writing, or a distraction from your writing. My kids aren’t distraction, they’re inspiration. You will not be able to craft a realistic child character until you watch a few dozen kids racing around the local park. You will not be able to portray the feelings of a parent towards those children until you take your own children (niece/nephew, neighbour’s kid, whatever) to the park for the day, or better yet keep them for a weekend. Need to know something about being terminally ill? Find a local cancer support group. Need to write teenagers? Go to the mall on a Saturday and sit in the food court, or hang out outside the teen clothing store, or sit near a pack of teens in the movie theatre, or find a pack of teens in any of their natural habitats and make notes!

But it can be more simple than that. You’ll over hear things in the supermarket that will inspire some witty dialogue in your next book. You’re mother, ranting on the phone because your father was a moron? You can’t use it word for word but note her tone of voice, her word choice, the intensity of her breathing, the issues that matter to her. (So next time she calls in the middle of writing time pull out a pen and paper and makes notes as you talk to her). Daily experiences that we pass off or pass over as distractions may fuel our muses.

Stories are about people and their emotions. Stories are about life. Writing is a solitary craft, though in some ways social networking sites are changing that. Still, at it’s core, writing is achieved by sitting alone, wrapped up in our own heads, putting words on the paper. We set aside life for those precious hours we have each day to write. But we can burn out that way, run out of interesting characters, witty dialogue, or interesting situations. Living life is the only way we’ll be able to write about it.

Yes, Facebook is a distraction, unless you’ve gone to a writing group on Facebook to get help with something (trust me, I’ve gotten some great pointers from the Nano group on Facebook), so are sites that post meme after meme just to make you smile. Reading the news can be a distraction, but sometimes it can be a source of great inspiration. Dinner with friends or family, an afternoon shopping with a distressed girlfriend, sitting on your front step and watching the neighbours work on their yards while you sip your wine? Yeah, there’s inspiration everywhere. When your muse flees the scene go out and find her some more ideas. She’ll reward you for it.

Signing off …

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