Happy Friday to all writers and authors! It’s scorching here in the Midwest and I’m encouraging everyone coping with this heatwave to stay cool and hydrated. Keep alcohol to a minimum or non existent ( nurse in me) Today, author Barbara Alvarez is going to talk about the thing that can frustrate many creatives in the literary world- our muse! Let’s welcome Barbara to clara54′s writers blog.
This might happen to you once in a while – you have a great idea for an article or for your new book. When you sit down to write, nothing comes to mind, even though you have an outline sitting right next to you! After staring at your computer screen for 30 minutes, lolling around on Facebook, checking your email and getting your third bottle of water, you wonder if you should just give up. “Maybe I’ll just wait for inspiration to strike. My muse seems to have taken a temporary break.”
Don’t do that. If you “wait for the muse,” she’ll (he’ll?) never join you. Take a walk if you must, but do so with the specific intention of coming back with at least one idea. Take a pen and pad of paper with you so that, if you do get an idea, you can write it down immediately. The paper and pen are important. How many times have you gotten an idea, only to completely forget what it was by the time you sat down at your computer? If you’re like me, that’s happened to you too many times. I bought several cheapie spiral notepads – you know, the ones with the spiral at the top. I have a pen in my purse. When I go anywhere, the pad and pen go with me. Wherever you are, write it down!
Let’s talk about other ways of encouraging inspiration. When I took a feature writing class a few years ago, my instructor required that we all start a notebook. This notebook had the plastic sleeve inserts into which we could add news stories that caught our attention or that became the inspiration for a story. She also had us add a second section so we could jot down those ideas. We were required to come up with seven to 10 ideas per week – and she collected the notebooks and checked them weekly! We had no choice but to “be honest” and generate those ideas. Fortunately, it didn’t matter if the ideas were good or not. As long as we used our gray matter and imagination, we could come up with something.
I’m a big fan of “what if …?” and allowing my imagination to run riot. And yes, my imagination loves going wild. Here’s an example – I live in the oldest part of town. Close by my home, we have one of the oldest parks in the city. Pioneer Women’s Park. Circling the park, which is simply a big square of grass, benches, trees, shrubs and a gazebo, are old houses. These aren’t the cookie-cutter ranch houses. These are the older houses with the deep porches that invite you to put a few chairs or a porch swing out, add a round table and sit out, sipping lemonade on a hot summer evening. The roofs are pitched. These houses aren’t big. Two, maybe three bedrooms, the kitchen, living room and one or two bathrooms. But most of them are well-maintained.
Anyway … I digress. The neighborhood is old and beautiful. There are two houses on one intersection. The first is one of these deep-porch homes, painted a beautiful green. Behind that house is a narrow, two-story house, painted in the same shade of green. Now, here’s where my imagination got all excited and took over. That second house has some whimsical embellishments. A trailing branch with colorful flowers was painted close to the roof. The words, “La Poste” have been attached to the second story. On the ground in front of the house, a metal table with several chairs sits.
When I first noticed this particular house, I was transfixed. I stared at it – and I hope I didn’t scare the owners by doing so! Truthfully, I had a “what-if” moment when I saw that two-story house. Let me break it down for you:
º The “La Poste” generated a whole storyline alone, one that is promising to become a saga;
º The older-neighborhood quality added to that storyline;
º The overall whimsy of the house just jump-started my imagination.
º My “what-if” moment led to me wondering – a story about refugees from the pre-WWII era emigrating to the U.S. I write primarily romance stories. In this planned book, one of the family members is the protagonist, so the story is about her family. As it’s currently planned, this story will wind up being saga-length.
There you have it. The muse might avoid me, but I do all I can to find her. Here’s another take-away for you – at this point, I have roughly six or seven story ideas written down for future writing. I don’t let my muse stay hidden.
Barbara Alvarez has been writing professionally since mid-2008. She began writing for content mills and has gradually branched out into ghostwriting and writing her own material.
Alvarez earned her Journalism and Mass Communications degree from New Mexico State University in 2006, thus starting her second career.
While she writes non-fiction, her first love is fiction – novels, novellas, romance, romantic suspense and YA are her primary specialties.
Alvarez’ goal is to publish several of her books and become well-known as a novelist. So far, she has one novella published and has ideas for at least seven new books.
Links to Barbara’s books:
Barbara’s website: http://barbaraalvarez.naahub.com/
Thanks to Barbara for her candid talk about the almighty muse! How do you deal with a stubborn muse in your creative process? Ignore or welcome its intrusion?
I’ll be taking a break until the end of August! I know it seems like a long time, but, family reunions and brand building projects lay in wait. I encourage you to read through posts from other visiting authors in my absence- some real gems here! If Breaking News occurs, I might be inclined to inform you guys:) Question. Laptop or no while getting your vacation R & R on?