Typically, I write my entire first draft without getting feedback, with the “door closed,” a la Stephen King. For me this draft is a flow of words as the story plays like a movie in my head. Yep, madness rules when a story grips me.
However, for the past few months, I did not look at my current manuscript. It was although, I had lost interest. Although, I read, edited and commented on other author’s works, mine was left desolate. As the COVID19 months passed, I became worried that the writing bug had left me. I felt bereft. I didn’t mean to stop writing.
Has that ever happened for you?
There are lots of reasons that our creativity, in whatever form, can be cast aside or forgotten. Illness, a new baby, a new relationship, a new home or job, divorce, financial stress and many more. To find that creative spark again, we can use one or more of the following:
1. Firstly, do not feel guilty – it is counterproductive and harassing your muse is a form of procrastination.
2. Start writing – use a prompt, do a character study, write out a story idea.
3. Keep Writing – give yourself a time limit 20 minutes or an hour, or write a page, or 250 words. Choose one and stick to it.
4. Finish a small project.
5. Talk to fellow authors.
6. Change the location of where you write – it can even be in a different room or somewhere local like your library.
7. Take a writing class.
8. Do another creative activity.
9. Make up book titles – based on well known novels or use a title generator on the internet.
10. Create a character description – including all their back story.
For me the spark came back after a discussion on strong female characters and how to make their role believable. It ignited that interest again and I spent the past weekend editing and polishing my steampunk heroine’s character. This writer is back!
When I virtual chat with writing friends most of them say they feel generally lethargic. It is not just their writing life and routine that has changed but also life in general has restricted their creativity. With limited interactions, we do not have access to our normal writing routines. We may have people in the house not normally there, or meetings and events that sparked our imaginations are cancelled. Whatever our normal was, we are being proactive in protecting our loved ones from this horrid disease by staying home.
When I looked up lethargy, I was surprised at how many definitions it has. All of which describe beautifully our current state.
So let’s take one of these and use it in a writing exercise. Write a poem or short story about a character affected by it.
Use the comment section to leave your response.
As writers we can use what prompts us to create. Use this experience in the same way. Make it a positive. Finish that novel, short story, poem. Create a new one using this experience as inspiration. Reorganize your physical or virtual writing files. Research new story ideas. List writing projects you want to achieve. Revisit old story ideas or manuscripts – can they be resurrected?
Several people enjoyed the button prompt, so today’s question is:
What story comes to mind with this image? Use 69 words or less.
Here is my interpretation:
The streets lay deserted and dirty. The last flickering of an advert splashed against the buildings husk. Nature will encroach to claim back what is rightfully hers, once again. The structures will house animals and insects and plants will flourish as the cement and steel crumble and rust.
I have two nieces that live in two different states and created my adventure loving main character to stay in contact with them. It started as a poem and I later developed that into my story.
How did you come up with the title?
Because my character loves traveling and adventures the title seemed natural.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My purpose for this first book is to normalize disability for children. I use simple concepts like dancing on feet or wheels and singing out loud or signing with happy hands to accomplish this. I am a disability advocate and saw this as a way to connect my message with children.
How much of the book is realistic?
Other than disability being a normal part of life, the rest is a complete work of fantasy fiction.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Close friends call me Jellibean because they can see how much of myself I put into that character. She is positive, upbeat, and always ready to make a friend and learn something new.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
Oh yes! I have completed four Princess Jellibean books that are under publishing contract. The second is currently being illustrated. I have plans to write this series indefinitely and have a list of things I want my character to encounter including traveling around the world and experiencing other cultures.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Princess Jellibean is definitely my favorite. I love her wide-eyed wonder and insatiable curiosity.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I love writing fiction because it allows me to create something that didn’t exist before. I started with poetry and have written that since I was 10 years old. I do want to try to write some self help in the future since I have several ideas in mind.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I am a mix of both. For some stories I like to plot out what I want to happen and for others I just let the story flow. I just finished writing a bed time story that I had so much fun with because it just poured out.
What is your best marketing tip?
Find ways to connect with your readers and know your audience. My audience is children, so I think of things that they would connect with and have colorful, plastic cat ear headbands to hand out when they purchase a book. I also make necklaces that feature images of my main character they can purchase separately.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Social medical is a brilliant tool when leveraged correctly and often. You can build a fan base this way when you put in the effort and time.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It allows me to express myself and provides a creative outlet which recharges my batteries.
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I wrote my first poem at 10 years old.
Has your genre changed or stayed the same?
No, I thought I would always write only poetry and could not have fathomed becoming a children’s book author.
What genre are you currently reading?
I have been reading self help type books for creatives.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
Both! I love to read for fun and I love to dig into a topic that intrigues me.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband, Glenn, is my muse and biggest supporter. Behind him is my parents and his mother.
Where is your favorite writing space?
Right now, I write wherever I can since I don’t have a desk. We are currently planning to convert our unused dining room into a creative writing space.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
Yes, I belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and just applied to be a member of the Cat Writers Association.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Elizabeth Gilbert. Her book Big Magic is full of such wonderful sage advice about being fearlessly creative.
Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as being my next level. I call it my retirement plan.
Cindi Handley Goodeaux is a Florida resident who lives with her husband and muse. She is a proud mom, graphic designer wannabe, rescue dog lover, and a sometime poet. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.