Saturday, December 11, 2010

Inspiration for Writing—Practical Tips

Maybe you go into the office expecting your inspiration to be there. But of course it's in your head. I like to think of it as foreplay. You need a little mental warm-up before you go into the office, just as a little making out in the kitchen can make the bedroom--um--imperative. So start re-reading your last day's work before breakfast or grab some recent notes you've made about your work, and glance over them before you do your workout. Working out plot and character problems is the only thing that makes running sufferable for me.

Here's another angle. Mental work isn't just in your mind; it's in your body, too. Your body has daily rhythms, so writing happily depends on when you work more than where. I like to start writing first thing in the morning, so my favorite "inspiration" is to lie in bed for half an hour reviewing and plotting forward, until the keyboard beckons, rather than repulsing me.

Different people have different tolerances for noise. I like to have instrumental classical music from the Classical period as background. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi. Alternatively, generic coffee shop noises are ok if they're not too loud, but that's hard to count on. Too much silence isn't helpful.

All else fails, a bath. It's time-consuming, but it always works. I draw a hot one, get in, soak until the water cools (no books allowed if I'm working on plot), drain out most of the cool water, refill with hot, and get out when that starts to cool, or when I've melted, whichever comes first. Invariably I've solved the problem.

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