10 Essentials for an Inspired Author’s LifeThe romance of a tortured artist’s life aside, all writers are in search of the secrets that will allow us to keep the inspiration flowing through our lives. In my recently released CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration (http://www.kmweiland.com/books.php#conquering), I discuss the best ways to keep Madame Muse at your beck and call—rather than the other way around. But, today, let’s take a look at ten essentials (some more essential than others) for any author wanting to live a consistently inspired life.
1. Coffee and chocolate: What’s a writer without a little caffeinated energy? There’s just something comfortable about any routine that includes two of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. Plus, they’re always good for self-bribery.
2. Music: As a breathing of the soul—a wordless story—music is an inspiration to all of us, no matter our calling as artists. Writers listen to music to calm themselves before jumping into a tough chapter, to jack up the adrenaline before writing battle scenes, or even just to catch a random bit of inspiration for that next story.
3. Effective and personalized tools: No two writers work in exactly the same way, so it’s no surprise we all prefer different tools. My tools of choice are a handful of notebooks, a scratchy pen, and a laptop. Whatever tools you choose, invest in something you’ll enjoy using. Writing can be tough enough without fighting an old clunker of a computer that freezes up every few weeks and endangers your work.
4. The arts: Artists of every stripe feed off each other. We refill our creative wells from the offerings of others. Don’t let your well go dry! Pile your nightstand with good novels, watch every good movie that comes your way—and don’t neglect other art forms, such as painting, singing, and even cooking. Absorbing this wealth from others is invaluable for any writer, but don’t be afraid to delve into other art forms for cross-pollination in your writing.
5. Strong goals: The occasional drudgery of writing can become overwhelming if we don’t have a strong focus on what we’re trying to achieve. Decide what it is you want to accomplish with your writing—whether it’s publication, becoming a bestseller, or even just finishing a story to share with family and friends—and keep that goal firmly in sight, especially on the tough days.
6. An encouraging atmosphere: We can’t always choose the kind of atmosphere in which we write; sometimes we just have to write whenever and wherever we can. But, whenever it’s in your power to do so, try to surround yourself with an atmosphere that encourages your writing. That might mean isolation, or it might mean a cheerful, busy bistro. It might mean a quiet office filled with your favorite things, or, like Hemingway, it might mean your kitchen table, surrounded by your children.
7. Acceptance of interference: Much as we might like the idea of retreating to our ivory towers to write in solace for twelve hours straight, we all know that real life doesn’t quite work that way. It’s best we learn early to accept the inevitable interferences (our day jobs, our kids, our plumbing emergencies) that thrust themselves into our writing days. Otherwise, we’re sure to go crazy!
8. Habits of consistency: The most important skill any writer can have—even more important than writing superb prose and gripping plots—is the ability to be consistent. Don’t allow yourself to get away with excuses. Don’t let your writing slip to the bottom of your to-do list every day. If this important to you, then prove it to the world by consistently giving it precedence.
9. A cat: What’s a writer without a cat? We all need a warm, furry body twining around our ankles, jumping onto our keyboards, and occasionally giving us supercilious looks to remind us that we are not, after all, Margaret Atwood or Stephen King.
10. Imaginary friend: Is it even possible to be a writer without invisible people running amok in our brains? Keep those special, magical people close by your side, and you’ll never lack for characters to write about!
Come back next week for my review of the CD "Conquering Writer's Block and Summoning Inspiration" as I soak up inspiration via my iPod for the next couple days. That goldfish in the lightbulb has me completely intrigued!
What animal would you pick to symbolize inspiration?