Happy new year!
I took a couple of weeks off over the holidays. I started out the month by accepting Nephele Tempest’s December writing challenge, in which you try to find at least fifteen minutes to write every day. It worked exceedingly well for me the first three weeks of the month, by which point I’d met all my writing goals for December and more, so I didn’t feel at all guilty about taking a much-needed vacation from work of all sorts.
Like for all writers I know, time off is never just time off. Everything I encounter in the world has the potential to fill the well, inspire me, prompt story ideas, or make me want to be a better writer. That’s one of the reasons I think it’s important to step out of my own head and see what else is out in the world This time, in the deep dark days and nights of winter, I encountered all sorts of things that made me want to write. In no particular order, these included
Reading: I read a lot over the holidays. There’s not much I enjoy more than curling up with a great book and a cup of tea or a glass of wine, with nowhere I have to be and nothing else I absolutely have to do. One of the authors I read over the holidays was Mary Balogh. Her historical romances have been auto-buys for me since her Slightly series made me fall in love with Regency romance as a go-to cosy escape read. Mary invariably makes me care about her characters, and every time I realize she’s done that again, it inspires me to write and find ways to do that for my own characters.
Watching TV: We’ve been on a bit of a Mad Men kick at our house, late enough to the party to be able to watch straight through from the beginning and still have lots more to catch up on after weeks of returning to it again and again. I’m impressed with the show’s writers’ efforts to show rather than tell. I appreciate writing that respects its audience, and I feel like Mad Men does that. Often, after watching an episode, I am revved up to get some writing done.
Exploring: I spent an afternoon wandering through vintage and antique shops, where I always wonder about the story behind the stock. I came home with a blue rhinestone brooch that sparkles in the light and made me happy to look at. There’s a story behind it; I’m sure of it. Also, we found time for a very brief visit to my favourite island over New Year’s, and being there, with the trees and the sea and the stars we can’t ever see in the same numbers in the city, always inspires me to put words on paper.
Time with family: I have a teenage daughter, and for most of the holidays this year, I also had my niece staying with us. Every time I feel lazy about writing or consider blowing off planned writing time, I think about them. There’s nothing quite as motivating as knowing your kids are watching every time you make time for – or don’t make time for – your dreams.
What inspires you to write?