There will come a moment in the life of every author that will make you think that you’re finished as a writer. You feel that you’ve done the best work you will ever do and that the stories just don’t flow from you the way they once did.
There is a reason for that, silly. Don’t make me Gibb smack you.
Where do you think your stories are coming from? Do you believe your mind to be some infinite well from where you can pull endless buckets of stunning prose? The simple truth is your imagination is like a steam engine, it has to be fed a continual supply of coal to get up a good head of steam. And, for a writer that ‘coal’ is your life. The simple day-to-day experiences that a normal person lives through and never notices.
The flirty interaction between yourself and a coffee barista.
Observing people in Walmart dealing with their children.
Reading billboards on the freeway.
Watching a TV commercial for a shake-weight … I’ll just leave that one to your imagination as to how it can help.
All of these and a million more help resupply the inkwell that an author pulls his stories from. It’s why when you first got started writing things seemed to just flow out. You were accessing decades of experiences. Now, after a few years as an author, you’ve been tapping that source pretty heavily so the well has run a bit dry, and you’re thinking your ability as an author has been lost.
“Yo, bartender! Jobu needs a refill!”
Look, it’s not rocket science here. If you want to get back you “mojo-baby” you simply have to go live life a bit. Read a book, go see a movie, take a spinning class, go play a round or two of golf … I don’t care what you do, but go do something. It doesn’t have to be something spectacular (but that helps, I’ll get back to this) but it has to be something outside of your normal routine. Take a different route home from work. Stop at a store you would never normally shop at. It doesn’t matter if you buy anything, just go inside. Do something, anything, outside the pale and you will have added a few drops of ink to the writer’s Inkwell.
But – and there is the rub – it’s just a few drops.
Don’t expect a simple trip to the local yogurt bar to give you the ink for a novel. Hell, that might not even manage a single page, but if you do enough odd things … make enough new and unusual memories, you might eek out a few chapters. Drip by drip, drop by drop.
Oh, you want it to refill faster?
Time to take a walk on the wild side.
Road trip, a cruise, a vacation to the mountains, or a day at the beach. Get as far out of your normal life and lifestyle as you can manage. Go to a fetish bar … well, for a few of us that is a normal lifestyle event … maybe learn to hula dance on a trip to Hawaii?
Life is what give you your stories. You can’t lock yourself in a hole and simply write, as wonderful as that sounds, you must interact with others to learn new dialog. You have to see places to make them feel real in your prose. You have to experience the chill of winter and the heat of summer to write about the changing of the seasons.
This should not be something unexpected.
You’re a writer and, no matter the genre, you are writing about life. To do that you have to live a life.
Sadly it is the great tragedies that cross our path that refill the writer’s inkwell the fastest. The disaster that destroys your home, the emotionally-contested divorce, the sudden unexpected loss of a family member. In the same way, villains are more fun to write than heroes, for a writer, having to cope with something terrible will give you the greatest inspiration.
~”I know it sounds sordid, but your writing will be rewarded … for the bad shit that happens to you.”~
You must have been burned to write about the flames.
Pirate’s promise. MST