Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Buying light bulbs

I have a friend, and once in awhile he posts on his Facebook or Twitter that he's 'off to buy some light bulbs'.

I know he's not heading to Home Depot.

It means that he's out of inspiration and he needs to find something to kick his muse in her pretty little rear end. How often does this happen to me? All the time. Sometimes I'll be on a roll and I can just feel the words itching to break free, I'll see the scene and know what has to happen and I can just write. Which usually happens at the worst possible moments, when I have no time to write. Like now, of course, when school is back in and I have to concentrate on my research project proposal and no real writing gets done at all. Sigh.

But then there are those times when I know I need to work on a project or at least come up with a plan or a plot, and...nothing. Mind goes completely blank. It's insanely frustrating. And that's when I head out to buy light bulbs.

What do I do to get those creative juices flowing? Sometimes I can read, especially if I can find a particularly interesting book that makes me want to write. I look for books like the kind I'm writing, but not always. Right now I'm reading Maureen Johnson's THE NAME OF THE STAR, and it's got me wanting to work on the last Library of Athena book - thank goodness, because that thing is giving me fits and I haven't even started writing it. But sometimes I'll watch a movie, or some Netflix TV (Firefly is good for the creativity, as is Doctor Who), or just take a walk, away from the Facebook and computer and work. Sometimes I just take the computer and go somewhere else-- a change of venue is all a mind needs to see something in a different way.

Your mileage with these tricks may vary, of course, but once you find your light bulb store, hang on to it, because unfortunately you can't store the darn things up for a rainy day.

And now, back to special project proposal writing... *trudge*


  1. Ooh, love the phrase "off to buy some lightbulbs"! I often find myself needing to search for inspiration like that, too. Like you, reading (or, rather, re-reading) is a great way to motivate myself to write again. (Anything by Lynne Ewing usually does the trick.) More often than not, though, I find myself listening to specific songs that make me think of my WIP for inspiration. It's a pretty effortless way to get reacquainted with the feel of my story and the mindset of my characters!

    Good luck with that special project proposal! :)

  2. Music is always my muse. I am never really at a shortage of ideas but when I need to focus or expand on one, music never fails!

  3. This is totally me. I was having problems and needed an added kick for my own writing. I ended up watching all three seasons of Roswell the TV series. The romance between Liz and Max was just what I needed to have in my own current project. Also books help me too. Good luck with your own special project!

  4. Christine, good idea. I just posted on my blog a couple of weeks the answer to the question what do you do when you are stuck? and I gave the student similar responses - walk away, put it up for a bit, work on something else, do some unrelated writing, pull a random word from the dictationary - lots of good tricks of the trade to get the creative juices flowing.

    My biggest problem is that I have no desire even though I know I need to write. I have 44 more stories to write in my state series and this novel that came to me right before the new year and I've not done anything else with it since the first page or so, and that isn't to say I haven't had any thoughts of what is to happen - just in a lull right now - no desire. I need to go somewhere - so good thing I have my first in-person event coming up in a couple of weeks or so; maybe that will get me back on track.

    Have you thought of keeping a digital recorder on hand for those times you can't really "write" due to other things going on? - You can just record your ideas or dictate what it is you need to write and when you are at the point where you can actually write you can just pick up the recorder and transcribe your notes/ideas/pages to get you going. I think I'm going to start trying that as I have a digital recorder and can easily keep it handy when that scene comes to me. Good luck with your special project and hope the muse is with you when you need her to be. - E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery
    "The Proposal" (an April Fools Day story), a humorous romance ebook
    "The Tulip Kiss", a paranormal romance ebook
    "Bride-and-Seek", a paranormal romance ebook

  5. Oh, I'm always looking for my "light bulbs." Reading helps me when I'm having problems. Also, I like to go for a walk and enjoy the clouds and flowers and butterflies. Sometimes, clearing my mind of the story, brings something to "light" that is just what I need.

    Great post. Christine.

  6. Great post! Like Mike, I turn to music quite a bit. I also, sometimes, plow through my unfinished projects because as we all know, writers are the ultimate recyclers. But lately I've been having a bit of a struggle. I think I've spent the past two years "looking for lightbulbs." Still looking, lol!

  7. I also have an mp3 player and my Pandora radio -- I even have a Steampunk playlist for when I'm working on that book.

    I love hearing about all of your light bulb shopping!