A week ago I was struck with the inspiration for a new novel (hallelujah!). As we writers know, this is a wonderfully exciting, coveted state to be in. I found myself seriously considering cancelling social plans to write. I’ve been bringing my laptop everywhere, just in case I find a few spare minutes to crack it open. I’ve been writing on my phone on the train. In other words, I’ve felt a little manic in my need to get it all out. As if I step away from the world too long, I’ll lose track of its rules.
So how does one deal with this sort of motivation that is both thrilling and unrealistic? Because let’s face it, I’d like to see my friends every so often, to catch up on This Is Us, to read every so often (currently: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Highly, highly recommend if you haven’t read it). Thankfully, Jennifer recently introduced me to the clothesline method. http://www.stevenpressfield.com/2015/01/the-clothesline-method/
I’m in the process of moving (another thing I need to focus on along with writing 24/7) so I don’t actually have a clothesline to hang up handy, so I improvised by writing my plot points and key character info on sheets of printer paper and spreading them out around my coffee table. Visualizing my process was very helpful, and helped alleviate the anxiety that I might forget important points.
I’ve also started to give myself daily writing goals. Sometimes these are in the form of chapters or scenes, sometimes a number of pages. This way I feel like I’ve accomplished enough for the day without feeling itchy to write more more more. If I’m in a good flow and have time to keep going then sure, great. But if I have somewhere to be or even if I’m just craving a mental break for the night, this has been a great way to keep the inspiration sustainable and productive instead of debilitating.
I’m so curious to know about other writers’ experiences with inspiration that hits you like a semi, and how you move forward with it. Comment below, and stay hungry!
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Tallie Gabriel is an actor, writer, and BookHive social media maven. She’s a member of InViolet Theatre and Artistic Assossiate of BEDLAM Theatre in NYC.