Jack London said:
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
This is more true than non-writers can possibly realize. The dreaded “muse” is dreaded because it disappears regularly, possibly never to be seen again. It usually happens right in the middle of the story, dropping you flat in the water at the worst possible moment, after firing grapeshot into your sails. If you listen hard enough, you can probably hear the wind whistling right through the shredded canvas of your inspiration.
How to make a jury rig and get under way again? That’s an excellent question. There’s no fool proof way, but here’s a list of my favorites.
1. Sit down and WRITE!! This is the one you’ll hear most often and it’s most consistently successful. The act of writing, regardless of WHAT you are writing often helps spark inspiration.
2. Word war! There’s nothing like the thought of being trounced in a rapid-fire writing competition with another author to spur you on. It may not be the best writing you’ve ever done, but it’s fun and there’s a good chance you’ll come out of it with a good idea or two.
3. Read. Anything. Computer manuals, world news, sci-fi anthologies, they all help. It’s rare for a serious writer to read a book for more than ten minutes without coming up with an exciting idea of some sort.
4. Listen to your favorite music. Often, your preferred listening materiel is a lot like your preferred writing materiel. Ideas flow well from music, be they thoughts of cannon fire and clashing blades, or daydreams of a country girl and her horse.
5. Last, but not least, sleep on it. Your brain can’t summon up the muse when it’s having trouble staying awake. Even if it’s the middle of the afternoon, you might still be brain-dead and still walking. Lie down for a minute, even if it’s only to cat-nap. You’ll work better if you’re rested, trust me. (and the experts)