It’s strange. Like a this is it moment. But when I sat down on January 1, 2016, ready to write the last draft of my novel, it felt different than when I wrote the other drafts. The other ones… they were just jumbled bits of good storytelling and bad, good characters and bad, et cetera. This one, though, feels real. It feels final.
It’s no longer about just getting the story down. I know what happens. I’ve practically got the whole thing memorized, I’ve rewritten everything so often. No, now it’s about making it sound like a story. About making it good.
It’s still frustratingly difficult to write, sometimes. Sometimes, my muse speaks to me, and sometimes she doesn’t. But I’ve managed to find ways to work with or without her help.
For one, I spend a lot of time just daydreaming. While I’m doing the dishes, or trying to fall asleep, etc, I let my mind wander. It’s weird how doing dishes can give you an idea for a love poem, or how walking through a bookstore can give you an idea about how to write a character’s response to some strange event, or how trying to fall asleep can spark an idea for a particularly depressing death scene. One of my friends also claimed to get really interesting ideas whenever she talks about or decides to eat cheese. (True story.) And yet, as a writer, these strange sources of inspiration tend to be a part of life. Which is why I’m no longer letting myself go anywhere unless I’ve got my notebook and some pens.
Speaking of pens, I’ve also discovered that color-coding things is something that generally sparks interest. I try to keep a multitude of pens (mostly because they have a tendency to run off in the night, but also because I like the variety of color). My note-keeping app on my phone, also, can be color-coded. So as I’m flipping through my notes, I’m seeing a vast array of colors. For some reason… that sparks my imagination as well.
Another one (and this might just be me) is using music to drum up emotions that I might not be feeling at the moment. This is actually how I get a lot of my ideas while doing the dishes. A song’ll come on that reminds me of a scene in my book, and I just let the song fit the scene as if it were a movie, and this was the song that was accompanying it.
But, above all, my greatest source of inspiration is making myself sit down at my desk every day, door closed, no disturbances, and writing x amount of words per day. Every day. Every single one. And the more I put it into a routine – writing at such-and-such time – the easier it is for my brain to recognize that now’s the time for creativity so all hands on deck, it’s time for an overhaul, people, so let’s go-go-go!
Anyway, that’s my secret, I suppose.