How do people make that wonderful flash of inspiration happen more often? One way is to live a connected life. Here’s part of what I mean.
I write and teach English, which is really about communication (you know, writing, reading, speaking, and listening.) Recently, when I was struggling with writing, I remembered what I had taught my students about writing. That flash of inspiration was really just remembering something from one life role and applying the same lesson as a writer.
People probably can’t guarantee inspiration this way, but they can really increase their chances of that breakthrough insight if they bring all of themselves to the table. Instead of compartmentalizing all the pieces of life, people gain effectiveness by connecting those roles.
My students know I write because I share with them some of my struggles in the task I’m asking them to undertake. They know I’m in Toastmaster’s Club and that I keep a vegetable garden. The club members know I teach and write and garden, and people following my blog… get the idea. One wonderful way that ideas happen occurs with the connections between these different parts of life. Since I don’t live life in a series of separated boxes, I’m not walling off parts of my mind from other parts as much. Seeing the daily growth of radishes, for example, may inspire an idea for a story or a speech or a student’s progress.
The really wild bonus to this is that my students benefit from me being a writer as much as I as a writer benefit from teaching! More next time.
I love those light bulb moments when the synapses fire in a coherent path. Here’s the most recent example.
I’m back in production for Celebrate Your Wins, writing as much as I can in the brief lull after spring semester ends before summer semester starts. A couple days ago, I was really struggling to decide what goes into that book (versus good ideas that go into its sequel). Stuck. It felt like I had most of the content in at least rough draft form, but the book felt incomplete. Stuck. Then I remembered what I’ve spent spring semester teaching my students in our expository writing class.
How do you tell when your essay writing is complete? You’ve supported your thesis. How do you know what goes in the paper? You write what will support your thesis. What do you do if the content and thesis don’t match? Change the content or change the thesis. FLASH OF INSIGHT!!! I needed to tackle a somewhat smaller thesis for the first book of the series.
Now that’s cool for progress on the book, but how do you make that flash of inspiration happen more often? More on that next time.
Last week, you may have read that I was determined to start an interactive short story featuring Russell Beagle, the licensed paranormal investigator. I wrote the story on pieces of paper so I could map the flow of readers’ choices that affect the path of the story. The usual writing process continued, with some extra time checking to make sure all the story branches work.
I filed registration with the copyright office (gotta love the electronic deposit). The next day I went to the Validus Paranormal Investigations website and puzzled how to add everything in. I made progress with the drop-and-drag editor until I wanted to link to a file that itself contained links. I banged my head against that for awhile. (“Indie author” sometimes feels like “ad hoc degree in hodgepodge of more vaguely related skills than you can shake a stick at”.)
The very next day, a colleague offered to help. We both teach English at the community college, but her other degree includes website design. She saw a quick, easy way to get this set up. With her help, the interactive story should be on the website soon. (I’ll thank her by name later, so she doesn’t feel obligated if something in her schedule goes awry.)
Lots of people are willing to help if asked. I keep relearning this lesson! We’re all more successful working in teams and partnerships. Of course I’m hoping to learn something, and of course if she later needs some help, I’m likely to reciprocate. But how many times do we all muddle through something alone when we could have made each others’ days much easier?
I miss teaching the college success class. This type of class focuses on study skills, time management, and the unwritten rules of education (and business). I taught it at the old school, and it worked great to think of it as all the advice that I wished someone had told me. The bonus round is that actions, thoughts, and attitudes that contribute to achieving goals in college also help professionals thrive in their careers and people in their lives.
No one has is all figured out, but both the “old” college and my current college use the same book, On Course by Skip Downing. He’s a genius at finding and combining the very best ideas from great thinkers. The current school requires specific training before teaching the class, which I recently did. It makes me miss teaching the course, though!
This week, I’m determined to start a Russell Beagle short story where the reader chooses how the story unfolds.1 It will go on the Validus website. To recap, Russell Beagle is a L.P.I. working for Validus Paranormal Investigations. Lots of people had fun with the short-story scavenger hunt my friend Ski and I hosted at the Pensacola Ren Faire. The next step is give people a way to play a mini-game… so, writing and studying web page design will ensue!
1 We’ve all read some of those books. I’m still looking for a catchy description that is not already copyrighted. Feel free to toss out suggestions for me to research!
Joyous spring! One day, trees blossomed. Two days later, green tips and buds appeared. At most 2 days after that, those trees are full of green leaves. Wonderful!
And so begins allergy season, not so wonderful. If I could just retrain my immune system to correctly identify pollen as a noncombatant, life would be grand. But the immune system is determined to annihilate the invader and General Histamine is a scorched earth, destroy the village to save it kind of guy.
However, without pollen, no trees and grass. Something wonderful often comes at a price.
Not sure I’ve completely convinced myself to be philosophical, but I’m trying. And even on a cloudy day, it sure is pretty.
I recently posted that now you can get my urban fantasy novel as an ebook and read it on a multitude of (really cool) devices (all those slick phones and tablets and whatnot).
If you’re keeping track, that’s three ebook titles and two as print books. Those numbers represent repeatability; the stories so far are just the beginning. Right now, I need to also teach to get money, but I can follow my dream. More success brings more time and energy to focus on writing, which brings readers more stories, faster. There’s room to grow. But I’m following my dream.
Wow, hard work.
Wow, scary sometimes.
Best decision I ever made.
Perhaps you’re already following your dream. If so, you rock! If not, then thoughtful steps can move you in the right direction. Some of that advice will be spelled out in my non-fiction book (back in progress next).
Here in the Piedmont of North Carolina, we have done winter really, really well this time. Full due diligence. The extra mile. The groundhog didn’t see his shadow. Instead, he flat refused to come out to check for another several more weeks.
Lots of places have much colder winters, with more snow. But the weather stayed consistently colder for longer than the previous few seasons. More so for me, since I’ve moved back to NC from warmer climes, and moved from a snug (but otherwise drab) apartment to a (wonderful) but big, drafty house. This concludes the only whining I’m going to do about it because it’s finally…
SPRING. AT LAST.
Here’s the evidence for your enjoyment!
You Can Get Lightning Strikes Twice as an Ebook! It’s available now for the Kindle and any devices that can read Kindle files, or you can get the print version through Amazon.
When a sword-swinging ghost tries to kill Jason and Rayn, they realize their efforts to help good people have come to the attention of some serious evil. The main characters troubleshoot for the benevolen, good people of all self-aware species. They’ve become increasingly effective, so the forces of evil hire an assassin to stop them. They use their wits, swords, and elemental magic to fight, and their love gives them strength until the killer uses it against them. When the killer and his hired squads target their friends and families, everyone must stand together to try to end the killer, permanently. Thrilling battles, samurai duels, and electrifying magic lead to a tragic sacrifice. Set in modern Asheville, NC where most magic occurs just out of sight, this full-length urban fantasy novel sets the record straight about what really happened to Jason, Rayn, and their friends.
I recently visited one of my college brothers, and felt really rejuvenated visiting with him and his family. My closest college friends are like brothers to me. They’re not physically related, and we weren’t in a fraternity, but these guys are there for me when I need. (And me for them.)
What a rare and wonderful thing to know people willing to drop what they’re doing, if really needed, to help. So I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge how fortunate I am to have family like that. Cherish the good people in your life!