Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What to do instead...


Sometimes a writer or painter or sculptor or whatever is just plain flat. Not that it means nothing is happening inside, but there is a feeling of mental fog. The question is often asked-- what do you do then?

Some say just keep doing it. It doesn't matter if you feel it. It's that you set yourself up a schedule and hew to it. So you paint even though everything you are doing is coming out blah or looks like everything you earlier did. You write so many words a day and it doesn't matter if you feel it. You stick to a schedule and it will work itself out.

Frankly I've done that. I've written and painted when I didn't 'feel' it. It's both worked and not worked. Sometimes as I start to write, the energy changes and I see where it's going. Like that film Field of Dreams-- build it and they will come. It's a fantasy but it has some truth to it but not always.

Mostly when I don't feel it one place, I am better off to switch to something else. For instance with writing fiction, I might have a good idea where the character is going but need some time to consider it. The reason I don't feel the inspiration is because what I'm trying to do is the wrong way. Giving it some time can help to develop a better sense of what comes next.

Some of the things I do when I'm in one of those in between times is move to a different media. I might look for photos that fit the stories I am writing, photos to inspire me. Now I have mentioned my favorite source for this is CanStock. I try only to buy photos that I know I can never take for myself. That means scenery I almost never buy. I also have a lot of wildlife shots; but lightning strikes, which are symbolic of both power and threat, those I am unlikely to ever take to the level I can buy.

What I learned this last year is that buying images of heroes, heroines, and secondary characters helps me get a feel for them.  I didn't think it would work that way, but it has ended up bringing a level of reality and inspiration to my books that my dreamlike imagination wasn't managing.

When I was going through one of my rather flat times (election hasn't helped with this), I began to play around with improving book covers. One led to another. It was a break from plots and character development and ended up surprisingly upgrading a couple of covers.

The one at the top is an example. I had been satisfied with the cover as it had that couple with a black background. The hero of Her Dark Angel is going through a bleak time when the book opens. He's in the midst of something very dangerous. The last thing he wanted to do was fall in love especially with a woman he knew he could never have. Lightning is apropos for his situation as well as later plays into one of the critical events. When I originally did the cover, I had no lightning photos. Now I have a couple and they prove useful every so often.

On such a day when the words aren't flowing, I will also do something I dislike but is essential to getting books out-- marketing. I go around, see what subjects are being discussed in forums, put up an advertising blurb (something I have yet to see sell a single book), write a Twitter, put up a Pinterest image, just generally do something to show I am still out there.

Finding something else to do, something to do instead, keeps me from feeling I am accomplishing nothing. Writing when the energy isn't right often just means I later go back and take it out or totally rewrite it; so it's not the best choice for me. Finding something else is because while doing that there will be those ideas  swirling around in my brain for what would happen next in the plot. When I get back to it, it'll go smoother.

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