One thing, a writer needs is inspiration, but another is the ability to keep writing - and this sometimes needs a little help. Australian writer Nicole Murphy has found that inspiration, and has a few tips to assist those of us who might need to find it, as well.
Take it away, Nicole!
What inspires me to keep going when it seems things aren’t working out.
Previous Enchanted Orb posts have dealt with what inspires writers to write, what inspires individual stories. They are fabulous posts – if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration yourself, go have a read.
What I want to talk about today is what inspires us to keep going during the dark times. They happen – to all writers. A book or series doesn’t sell as well as you’d hoped. The contract you were sure was coming suddenly evaporates. Your first book is finally out, after years of struggle, only to be met by a bad review.
There are times it seems that we writers are masochists and you wonder why you keep going.
Not writing, that is. Writers will forever write. But submitting. Publishing. Shoving your precious words and stories out into the cold, harsh reality of the world.
Here’s some of the things that have inspired me and kept me going.
- Hearing other writer’s horror stories. I did a series on my blog called “Dreams and Fulfilment” where I asked fellow writers to talk about the ups and downs of the journey. The one story that particularly hit me was Kerrelyn Sparks’ story. I love Kerrelyn’s books, and reading her tale of the hit after hit she took before she had success has many times helped me get up, dust myself off and keep going after my own hits.
- Keeping snippets of great feedback from the past. The first bit of feedback I ever got that I kept was from science fiction great Piers Anthony. I was in an anthology that a collaborator of his published. After Piers kinda trashed most of the stories, he said there was two stories that held potential and that he kinda liked reading and one was mine! Over the years, I’ve collected more – mostly from reviews, but also the occasional fan letter. When it seems everything is conspiring to tell you you suck as a writer, these remind you that you don’t.
- Switch it up. When my urban fantasy trilogy Dream of Asarlai didn’t do as well as the publisher and I expected, to the extent they knocked back the sequel, I decided to take a break and move into contemporary romance. I’ve just sold my second contemporary novel, so that seems to have been a great step to take.
- Experiment. Spend some time away from the genre/characters/world of the book that’s dragging you down and play with words, ideas, themes. Go way out. Write poetry if all you’ve ever done is prose. Write horror if all you’ve ever written is fluffy bunny stuff.
- Do something for others. There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that says something along the lines of ‘when times are dark for you, do something good for others and you will find the light’. When we’re feeling bad, it’s hard to think of doing a good thing for others but it really does help take you out of yourself. For me, I like to do things such as run conventions or edit and publish anthologies. Helping contribute to other people’s success makes me feel great.
- Spend time with other writers. As you read this, I’ll be at Conflux 9, the Canberra-based science fiction/fantasy/horror convention I’ve been involved in running for ten years now. Immediately following that, I’m off on a week-long writing retreat with my writing buddies. Their support, encouragement and recognition that this is something all writers go through will greatly inspire me to keep going.
So if you’re finding that you’re in a bit of a slump because the dream isn’t turning out the way you want – try one of these ideas and see if it can help you to bounce back.
Or perhaps you’ve got an idea that’s worked for you in the past. Please share it.
Nicole Murphy is a fantasy/science fiction/horror writer who also writes contemporary romance as Elizabeth Dunk. Her urban fantasy trilogy ‘Dream of Asarlai’ was published by HarperVoyager Australia and her contemporary romance ‘Arranged to Love’ by Escape Publishing. Her next contemporary, “The Lies We Tell’ will be out in August. She’s an editor, publisher and convention organiser who’s looking forward to a chance to write again.