I've always said that inspiration is like herding a dragon; that's where the name of this blog comes from. And I've always known that balancing that quest for inspiration with an actual life is super hard for me.
When I was a kid, I'd just write all the time. I didn't have carpal tunnel yet, and I didn't have all that many obligations outside of being in middle school and two or three home chores; it left a lot of time to just write whatever came into my head.
I also didn't have the need at that point to make a career out of it--no one ever saw any of it but me--so it didn't matter whether I finished anything or not. So almost all of it was unfinished. I wrote my first novel-length thing in tenth grade, and still almost everything I wrote was barely more than ten pages and usually more like one page and some notes.
It was easy.
As an adult, it's not easy. It hasn't been easy for ages. I still get ideas all the time, but now I have to Make Time to write, and that feels weird--the whole concept of "I have things that need doing, so writing will have to wait" when literally all I want to do with my life is write books (and make nail polish), is bizarre. And I was never rally taught, growing up, how to manage the life-Inspo balance. Probably because creativity is mostly seen as a perk, while doing a job and getting paid is the actual thing everyone wants their kids to do.
Here's what I've learned, what I've had to figure out, since no one taught me much on the subject:
If I can't focus on my writing, it'll dry up, but if I only focus on it, everything else falls apart, and then I have no time to write. Stress kills inspiration. Minimizing stress is flipping hard, especially when you're a worrier with an overactive fight-or-flight response. Trying to build a stable and calm life helps with all that.
Inspiration can come from literally anywhere at any time, but if I don't write it down and then don't go back to do something about it, it's meaningless. And after a while, that dries up, too.
Wanting to write is a good spur, but not always good enough to actually get writing going; that takes dedication and devoting attention to what comes next even when I'm not in front of the keyboard or the notebook, and it takes a flow. Things need to go into my head to kick up the dust and get stuff out of my head.
So I'm writing again.
I'm scheduling in time to write and giving myself rewards for getting the day's pages done--and only expecting about two thirds of what I know my max output is, so that slow days are easier and easy days are bonus buffer-builders. I'm exchanging pages with my crit partner again*.
And I'm trying to take care of myself. Last week, I popped a ligament in my leg and it has literally forced me to a standstill I'm only just starting to move slowly out of, and it's given me a chance to think about how I'm tending to this faulty body I have, and how I can better take care of it, and that's all part of it. It's a whole: my health problems, my constant need for inspiration, my work and my play, it's all the same thing.
So to get my book done, I'm going to get myself and my life and my goals healthier. I'm going to pay attention. I'm going to sit down and do the work in the least stressful way I can.
And in a while, I'll have a nice healthy baby book to show for it.
What're your thoughts on holistic book writing? Share in the comments!
*Indie author Alexa Grave, who is awesome and really gets what I'm going for even when I suck at conveying that.