Finding the motivation to write

Pretty much my attitude to writers block or being unmotivated is simply ‘write the damn thing!’

When I am having that spark of creativity and the words flow easily and reading my prose back it feels entertaining, witty and on point… other times it feels dry, stagnant, and uninspired. It’s painful to have to write in those moments. Sometimes I’m lucky to get a paragraph down before I feel like bighting a bullet.

The thing is, editing is much easier. Adding to something feels like a more possible task. So filling the blank page with the mechanics of your story, or article is the hard part. But if you can get it down, then improving your piece becomes infinitely easier. Well, in my process it does.

I cannot ever recall a time where I wrote something straight from my head and it was instantly a masterpiece. I’ve had to edit, improve, embellish everything I’ve ever written. So why do writers have this hang up of writers block.

There is always something for me to do – jump ahead in the timeline and write a scene in a future chapter. Explore my characters motivations in dialogue, write about the world, put on some music to inspire some words, switch to another project altogether, edit, design some marketing activities, read something in a similar genre and take note in the writing style and how that reflects on your own.

Stick to a schedule. Whether it’s every day, or on the weekends, make a set time for your writing and get the thing done. I have to say that has been the most helpful thing to impact my career – forming a habit of writing. I started small, and eventually it grew to a point where I can put in a ten hour day if I needed to. I don’t do that now if I don’t have to. I like to end the day with something to look forward to tomorrow. Like teasing myself with a little cliff-hanger that I need to write. I get to mull it over in my head overnight so the next day I have a semi-formed plan and am excited to get to work.

So most of the time, lack of motivation, or writers block, does not hit me because I’m always inspired. Whenever I get new ideas, I write them down and file them away for later. I have literally so many book and article ideas stored away I couldn’t get them all written in my lifetime. So when my flow for a certain project dries up, and I have exhausted all the ways to move it forward, I can take a few days break to work on something else with ease.

I have a friend who had a massive cork board that they collect ideas, snippets of dialogue, pictures to inspire character profiles, places, mantras, etc as a source of inspiration to write – a board that is constantly changing and evolving so it never runs dry. You just have to find a system that works for you. Mine’s digital, and I like to work on a few projects at the same time. A fellow writer buddy I know can only write one book at a time and in sequential order (a pantser) and when she gets stuck tends to daydream a little with what-if scenarios, flesh out character profiles, go out to shopping centres and cafes and eaves drop on conversations and take note of peoples mannerisms for things that she could use. Or if the block is really bad, she will re-write her chapter and take it in a different direction.

Inspiration can come from anywhere, art, music, reading, movies and television, or simply switching off for a moment. It’s important to refill your well of creativity just as it is to create a habit of writing to offer longevity in your career.

If your sitting at your keyboard and nothing is coming, start asking why? Is the scene you’re currently trying to wright, not right for the overall plot of the novel? Is it a boring topic? Is there another more interesting way to approach the subject matter? Can you switch perspectives or tense? Are you just not into this whole writing thing? Maybe the content is not relevant to you, so you are not connecting with it? Like any job, you have to find ways to get things done. Make writing comfortable, methodical, entertaining and inspiring for you. If you are constantly having to struggle to fill a blank page and you can’t work out what is wrong, maybe writing isn’t for you? Try changing up your process – write the ending first and work your way backwards. Write the key scenes to your story first and then fill in the gaps later. Create mood boards for each scene/chapter to keep the emotion or tone of the writing present in your mind.

The whole thing about writer’s block is that it is all in your head. And we are wired to think, to be creative, so if you are genuinely blocked take a serious look at yourself… is writing really a vocation for you? Writers deal with fact and imagination for entertainment, information, or discussions. Maybe look at how you are delivering your prose and switch up that tone? There is literally thousands of way to re-ignite that passion. You just need to momentarily step back, re-orientate your thoughts, and get back to work.

I’m generally in the field that if I’m ‘blocked’ it’s because the scene or article isn’t working. Something is missing. It’s irrelevant in the bigger picture; so stepping back to get a fresh perspective always illuminates some solution. And if not, there is plenty of other projects to get on with, so I am always writing something.

Do you suffer writers block? What are some of the ways that you have overcome a slump in your writing habits?

© Casey Carlisle 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Shades of Earth’ by Beth Revis

Warring factions from a spaceship settling a colony on an alien planet – two teens thrown in the mix – mayhem ensues.

Shades of Earth Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, science fiction, Mystery, Romance

No. of pages: 369

From Goodreads:

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES.
RULED BY CHAOS.
ALMOST HOME.

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Shades of Earth’ was so much better than the previous novels in the trilogy. I wasn’t really overcome by any need to move forward with this series after low ratings on ‘Across the Universe’ and ‘A Million Suns,’ but after a lengthy hiatus I decided to wrap up this collection… and I’m really glad I did.

Our protagonist, Amy, stopped being so flighty and immature, and has grown into a young woman I really respect and loved to read about. Her strength really shines in this conclusion, as does her ingenuity, and no longer needs to rely on Elder for her safety.

Elder (Amy’s love interest) did not seem so young either, and has really started growing into a leader. I think the added dynamic of planet fall and the addition of the cryogenic passengers now awake have given both of these two a chance to challenge themselves in so much adversity.

There are moments where the couple are fighting against parents or “rulers” that annoyed me. Yes, their actions are justified, but to have so many unreasonable adults around, in the situation of colonising an alien planet, it did not seem so realistic. The type of people to make a new home in somewhere completely new and alien takes ingenuity and adaptability – and I did not see a lot of that (even if they were under orders from their bosses). This was the biggest issue I had with the plot – it represented more of a power play than any realism of surviving in a hostile alien environment.

Amy’s parents fell into this category as well; even though it was juxtaposed with moments of empathy and parental care, I was frustrated at their behaviour. Respectively, ‘Shades of Earth’ really captured that love-hate thing we go through as teens.

I had guessed all about our new cast member introduced in this novel, Chris, within the first scene. He was a great character and added a fresh dynamic to Amy and Elders relationship. But still a clever story arc, and one that I thinks adds a lot of interest to the novel.

Shades of Earth Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Loved the descriptions of the new planet, though, I would have liked to find out more about the ecology there. I was expecting more flora and fauna – it is an evolved planet that can support life, just a few scary lifeforms seems deficient… I love a good fight for survival, and as much as ‘Shades of Earth’ is that, the aboriginal life on Centauri-Earth could have been amped up more.

The development of technology over time is brilliant in this story, and I loved how it was intertwined within the plot – how elements of Earth, Godspeed, and the planet are all included in Amy and Elders plight.

This is the right way to end a series.

I don’t think I would have bothered to pick up anything written by Beth Revis based on my experience of the first two novels, but ‘Shades of Earth’ has totally redeemed her writing in my eyes and turned me into a fan. Even though it took me two years to finally finish the trilogy.

Overall reaction: That came out of nowhere!

Shades of Earth Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Shades of Earth Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

 

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush

Swapping high heels for gum boots

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

It’s weird how things play out – my mother passing away, getting made redundant, and a relationship ending. It has all led me to living in the Hinterland, overlooking the coast and following my passion: writing.

While I miss my mother terribly, at least one thing reminds me of her every day. I wear a piece of her jewellery daily to feel like she is still sharing this journey with me as I sit at the computer and wrestle with my conscious at the words appearing on my screen. It may sound strange, but with Mum gone, I’ve lost that little feeling of being safe forever, like when things got scary and bad, you could run home for a hug… now that it is no longer there it has changed my outlook – and my writing style. The material I turn out now has more of a contemporary feel. I’ve lost a touch of my Pollyanna-always-smiling positivity. And that’s not a bad thing. It has matured my writing.

The now ex-boyfriend… well that was a surprise ending. It nearly broke me in half. I was sure we were heading somewhere special, that I was doing everything he asked for – I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I miss holding his hand, feeling his hugs and the silly jokes he cracked. I never wanted to be anything less than perfect with him.

The feeling of being loved, of being something bigger than yourself gives you a safe space to write and spurns you on. And just like losing Mum, finding that space again has fallen on my shoulders. Now I find beauty in the little things: looking out the window at the birds, gazing at the mammoth scape of blue above, well you get the picture. Yes, I am sad the relationship is over, but the main thing that troubles me is that he never believed how truly gorgeous I thought he was, but I hope one day he knows just how awesome he is. I’m a big girl and can accept that all good things come to an end – and it’s usually to make room for even better things! J

Work I don’t miss so much. Maybe the great friends I met there, but being made redundant gave me the kick in the pants to write. And I’ve never been happier.

I had to think hard – do I get another job, or take this opportunity to follow my dreams? Well the dream won out (obviously). But it has an expiration date. I’ve given myself a year to accomplish the task of finishing a book and getting published. And now with two novels at the final editing stage I’m half way there… and it’s only April.

So with all this behind me, I’ve relocated from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast, keen for the months of writing in tropical surrounds. But what I didn’t count on was nature…

From City Buildings to Quiet Bush Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleIt’s dark by 6pm. I mean inky black nothingness. No street lights, no ambient glow from the city. You have to feel your way through shrub and icky crawly-bitey things back inside. The night sky is amazing though. You can easily see three times as many stars! If it weren’t for the mosquitoes I’d be out there staring in the mysterious yonder every night.

Day time brings a plethora or annoyances: spiders, snakes, toads, bees, wasps, or a mist/fog during rainy days dulling visibility to mere metres. When I let my furbabies out for a run, or to do their ‘business’ I’m on high alert with my ‘snake-rake’ (to either brandish at a game reptile or hook my pooches away from danger).

It’s not all avid alertness all the time. I get to relax as well and take in ducks by the natural spring and parrots, kookaburras, butterflies, green tree frogs, while sucking in clean mountain air. It blows out cobwebs and really leaves me feeling revitalized. Where in the city I needed to travel about to find somewhere new to stimulate my senses, here I simply step out my front door.

And that’s the best thing! Yes, I can no longer wear my high heels and pop down to the shops for a cappuccino; but instead I can drink from the cup of the wilderness for inspiration – and right now that’s all I need to start filling my screen with words.

UPPERCASE lowercase banner by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Don’t let people suck away all your creativity … by Casey Carlisle

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I’m talking about spiritual vampires… the leeches that feed on your ideas, positivity and diminish your motivation.

We’ve all come across someone in our lives who affects you in a negative way, stresses you out, puts you or your ideas down. A person who is always making negative statements and complaining. It can impact your writing (or whatever your medium may be), and stifle your flow if not careful. We are all artists and wordsmiths, and once doubt and frustration infect your soul in can taint your every thought and is difficult to shake.

I like to use these types of characters as inspiration for traits in include in the cast of my novels, funnelling all that ‘woe-is-me’ on to the page. It can add an interesting story arc for redemption or offer a challenge (or comparison) for your protagonist.

Turn a negative into a positive. Got writers block? Write about a writer who’s hit a wall and what has snuffed out his or her inspiration. Hey, at least it gets you writing again! Turning the cogs in that ol’ noggin of yours.

My best friend calls it the ‘Pollyanna Approach.’ How I always take the crap in my life and use it as fertilizer to grow something rewarding. I know it sounds like your typical overcoming adversity, or finding the optimist spiel, but I think it is a valuable lesson in taking stock of our surrounds when we work in a creative field. The environment and people around us can inversely measure against our process.

I only say all of this because, from my own personal experience, early on in my writing career there were many nay-sayers regarding my probability of earning a living out of this vocation. By devaluing the thing I was most passionate about, it quelled most of my urge to continuing to write. It took me several years to wake up one day and announce, ‘What the hey – I can’t not write.’ And so I did. Not for a job. Hell, not even with the thought I was going to turn it into a full time career. I started because I wanted to do it for myself. There were just too many ideas crowding my head I needed to get down on paper.

Now, because I no longer pay attention to anyone doubting my storytelling skills, I am so much happier. Words continue to flow. Novels continue to pour out of me. So don’t let the doubting thomas’ or saboteurs control your passion. Do it for yourself. Be proud of your creations.

We need to support each other, give a pat on the back and compliment those who can pluck ideas out of thin air. They lead, entertain, teach… what we do is important. So next time you feel like the walls are closing in, take a look around you and identify what is the source of your dilemma – and use it!

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.