(Originally Posted on Facebook 12/06/18)
There’s a quote that has long been attributed to Nora Roberts, the maven of romance writers. It goes something like, “Every time I hear writers talk about ‘the muse’ I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job, do your job.”
As a consummate plotter, A-type personality, and Scorpio star sign, I totally understand the sentiment. It’s our job to write words (and do the million and one other things that comes with the author job description). Yet sitting down at your desk to bang out your daily wordcount can be a killer if you aren’t inspired, especially if you are squeezing that writing in around a day-job or raising children.
I often get asked how I manage the two, writing words and being inspired. And the truth is, I use a little black Moleskine notebook.
In the notebook are a series of tabs. Moments, Lyrics, Storyboards, Titles, Characters, and Books. It’s with me always… a catch all for those moments in life when I see or hear or feel something that doesn’t immediately have a place in my current WIP.
For example, in ‘Characters’, you’ll find lines of dialogue from Moonlighting, the Cybil Shepard and Bruce Willis TV series from the eighties. It sat there until the idea of Cujo and Drea came along in The Fractured Heart and I knew it was for them.
In “Books”, you’ll find my notes on Dr. Bruce Perry’s book, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog. I’m no psychologist, and don’t profess to be, but I find the human mind fascinating. And if you are looking for a way to build out your characters, a base understanding of psychology is a great place to start. I picked up this book because I read an excerpt that talked about how childhood experience affects adulthood. When we write character arcs, often so much of the start-point of the hero or heroine is something that has happened to them in the past… and the power of the story is the healing, redemptive path the characters walk in a few hundred pages. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the information I found, I read the book while writing The Strongest Steel in 2014, but you can see over the page of scribbles, those notes started to take on a life of their own. Readers of Preload, my rock star romance series, will see the very early seedlings of the stories these notes became.
So, the tips for today are:
1. Start to build your own inspiration library. Grab a notebook and write down every thought you have into a handful of categories that work for you.
2. Pick up a non-fiction psychology book if you are looking to write complex characters.