words of wisdom · writing

Summoning Muses – How to Find Inspiration

After discussing the problems that I’ve had during the editing process, I decided to reflect on some of the other “problems” that authors usually experience. Lucky us: two writing posts in one week!

One that I’ve heard other authors encounter frequently is lack of inspiration. I’ve written about this before, but I want to revisit the topic. I’ve written about how I like to let inspiration lead, and I stand by that. I don’t normally have this issue, mainly because I have multiple works-in-progress at my disposal at any time. If I feel “stuck” on one manuscript, I just pick up another one. It may not be as linear as I’d prefer, but it certainly keeps me from getting bored.

That, of course, is not the optimal plan for most authors. So I took some time to consider what I used to do when I needed inspiration. I went back to when I wrote my first book (which still hasn’t been fully edited!) and what I did to bust through those blocks that came up while writing. At that time, that was the only manuscript I was working on, so all of my energy and focus was directed onto it.

I recall going outside, taking a walk near my office, visiting museums, or sitting in parks, to help summon a muse or two. During a pandemic, some of these are not consistently available (museums may not be the most accessible places currently). Also, in the Northern Hemisphere, winter makes outdoor walks or times in public parks quite uncomfortable. So none of my usual options are optimal.


That being considered, what should a writer do when trying to summon the muses during the winter season during a pandemic?

Actually, I recommend everything that I have used to distract myself when I should be editing. Clean up your house, watch YouTube videos that have nothing to do with what you’re writing (I have a YouTube channel if you want to check it out), phone your friends, scroll through social media: basically, do anything you can to give your brain a break. Give yourself a firm time frame for indulging in non-writing activities, then relax a bit.

If self control is difficult for you, then go ahead outside and take a quick walk, even if that means trudging through the snow. It’s better to be temporarily chilled than perpetually distracted.

In all seriousness, the muses/inspiration you need is probably just waiting for you to take a break from feeling the pressure to be “inspired”. You ever notice how inspiration always strikes at the most random times? Yeah, it’s a thing. And it only happens when you aren’t “searching” for it.

If nothing else works, take a shower. Something about the water always makes me feel a little more brilliant (Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser discusses this in her book [and one of my favorites!] Write It Down, Make It Happen). The Archimedes Principle, a physical law that has proven consistent over time, legendarily happened when Archimedes was taking a public bath. Now, if he can get strokes of genius while being naked in front of his countrymen, imagine what you could do in the privacy of your own shower!

And if you need a serious kick in the pants, read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (I wrote about the book here). This book always makes me realize how much of Octavia Butler’s thoughts were true, as regards inspiration. She famously said, “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” Pressfield concurs with Butler, and while I always feel a little ashamed after thinking what I could have done differently as regards my writing, I always feel a little comforted when reading Pressfield’s work, as it reveals that, as far as authors go, I’m not the only slacker.

Do you all have any recommendations for getting inspired? I’d love to hear all about it!

This post contains affiliate links.

reading list

Book Review: Get It Done by Michael Mackintosh

Happy Friday, friends! Here’s the review I’ve been promising: it’s a good one, and I wanted to make sure that I did it justice.

screen (8)

It’s been a while since I posted a book review, but trust me: I’ve been reading

I received a copy of Get It Done: The 21-Day Mind Hack System to Double Your Productivity and Finish What You Start by Michael Mackintosh from TCK Publishing a couple of months ago. One of the publisher’s author support specialists, Maria, was kind enough to provide me a copy after seeing my review of The War of Art. Maria’s assessment of my book preferences was spot on: Get It Done is the exactly the kind of book I enjoy reading. Thanks again, Maria and TCK Publishing!

Get It Done takes readers from being stuck, sluggish and uninspired to motivated, focused and unstoppable. If you’re suffering from any sort of delay in creating the life that you want, this book will help you knock through those challenges and achieve what you desire. It really is the “missing piece” of the puzzle for creatives.

The book is broken into three parts: Part 1 addresses the mental hacks that are needed before embarking on your creative venture; Part 2 explains the process of achieving your goal in 21 days; and Part 3 offers templates and support tools for accomplishing your goals. These three sections work harmoniously to support readers through their creative journey.

My favorite chapter was Chapter 10: Do It Now. This chapter really emphasized the urgency of doing our work right now, instead of waiting for tomorrow. Truly, tomorrow isn’t promised to us: the longer we wait, the more we risk never seeing our dreams materialized.

In Chapter 10, Mackintosh wrote, “In short, sooner or later, you’ll lose your chance to get your message out and share your gifts.” Ouch. I don’t want a life where I didn’t share my gifts or where I regret never connecting with the people that I was meant to help. The fact that I have been procrastinating is a hard pill to swallow but it’s what I needed to hear to give me the sense of urgency I need to get started on my projects now.

Mackintosh’s program outlined in Part 2 leaves no stone unturned: it gives clear guidance on how to set up a 21-day goal challenge that is guaranteed to succeed. I was really impressed with the strategies provided in this section. I’ve read a lot of great self-help, motivation, and goal-setting books, and I can honestly say that I learned some brand new ways to create accountability structures that work. I’m excited to start a 21 day challenge in January (yes, I’ll be writing about it on this blog!)

My overall review is that this is an excellent read that does a great job of addressing the reasons why we delay in accomplishing our goals, helps us to break through those barriers, and provides an effective structure for accomplishing goals in record time. I can’t recommend it enough! Make sure you get your copy of Get It Done, and watch your dreams start coming true! If you’d like more information about TCK Publishing, please click here. If you have problems with clicking the link, then type the following into your browser: https://www.tckpublishing.com/.

reading list

Book Review: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

writing

When I mentioned The War of Art by Steven Pressfield in my May Reading List post, I shared that I had read it before, but I rushed through it. I read it as part of a business “boot camp” that I participated in a few years ago. The book was good but since the business I was designing wasn’t “creative”, it didn’t feel relevant to my circumstances at the time.

However, I’m in a different space in my life now, and I am tapping into my creative powers regularly. That’s why I post daily in this space, whether I have lots to talk about or not much going on. It’s all about continuing to write and dedicating myself to my craft. Errors and all, I post here every day with the hope that I’ll share something that inspires or educates.

Back to War of Art: this book is all about learning what “Resistance” is, how it impacts our creative projects, and how to break through it. For those that don’t know, Resistance is anything that distracts us from our creative projects or interferes with our creative expression. Resistance takes many forms, but each of them are detrimental to the creative, who is denied their natural expression when they allow Resistance to win.

Resistance is described as an enemy that has mastered the art of disguise: so much so, it’s possible that this enemy is attacking you from several angles. However, once identified, the enemy can be defeated and the creative can realize his/her ultimate goal. Pressfield assures us that Resistance can be beaten, as he stated, “Defeating Resistance is like giving birth. It seems absolutely impossible until you remember that women have been pulling it off successfully, with support and without, for fifty million years”.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section outlines the many disguises of Resistance: it can be something as blatant as procrastination or as subtle as vicarious living through loved ones. The second section describes the way to conquer Resistance which is going “pro”: utilizing strategies of the “professional” to sets out to do his/her work regardless of all of the Resistance swirling in the atmosphere. The third section is all about what happens after Resistance is conquered. This section speaks of the magic of starting a project, the incredible outcomes of deferring to “higher powers” like God, the Muses, etc., and moving beyond the Ego.

This entire book is enjoyable, but I’m especially a fan of the second section. Many of the practices outlined are disciplines that could serve you in multiple arenas. I often need to be reminded of what a “professional” does, so that, instead of being frustrated by circumstance, I’m focused instead on what I need to do.

This was such a good read! I hope you all check it out and find some benefit in it for yourselves!

reading list

May’s Reading Selection

Happy Monday, friends! I’m excited to step into another week full of possibility and fun. I hope you all take full advantage of all of the good things that await you if you are BOLD enough to seize the day!

create1

May is shaping up to be quite an exciting month, so I want a book that keeps in step with that high energy but also reflect my goal of making 2018 the best year of my life. The May reading selection is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I’ve read this one several years ago but I rushed through it. This time, I really want to pace myself and take in the lessons.

The past few weeks have been a bit more stressful than normal. Despite participating in the Joy Challenge and actively cultivating joy in my daily life, I feel like my creativity is suffering a bit (not to mention my dissatisfaction with my job is increasing).  My hope is that this reading selection will help me to get back in touch with my creative “fire” as well as align me with better options for either eliminating or minimizing my dissatisfaction. If any of you have experienced similar feelings of frustration and stagnation, it may be worth check out this book, as well. I’ve linked the book above, so if it interests you, go ahead and pick it up!