Friday, July 9, 2010

Guest blogger Ebony McKenna

This week, I'm honored to have Ebony McKenna guest blogging for me. I 'met' Ebony on #scribechat (why aren't you joining us? It's too much fun to miss) and she very generously agreed to gives us all her two cents on Inspiration. I hope you enjoy her wonderful post as much as I did. Don't forget to comment and pick up a copy of her wonderful novel, Ondine: The Summer of Shambles.

Thanks so much, Ebony, for playing along!


Inspiration:

I hate to break it to you, but there is no guaranteed way to ‘get’ inspiration. It’s either going to come or it won’t. Which is a dreadful way to begin a blog on the topic because you’re all looking at me, thinking, ‘come on woman, inspire me!’

But there is a way to encourage inspiration to come your way. You have to turn the computer or laptop on, open the file, put your fingers on the keys and start typing.


If you’re not , you won’t be open to inspiration when it strikes. Or creeps up on you. Or worms its way into your heart. I’ve found time and again this habit works for me. I make a start - sometimes with no idea about what comes next - and sure enough, something eventually comes to me.

It took me about seven goes just to work out how to start this post! I wasn’t sure how to start. So I took my own advice and just started. Then when I had a decent paragraph, I knew that might go somewhere near the top and the rest might follow. How am I doing so far?

Inspiration is like snark hunting. You’re never too sure what it is, and everyone has a different idea of how crazy and dangerous it is, and you never really know what you’ve got. BUT, you have to be in the hunt in the first place if you want to get one.

Which means removing distractions where possible. Hold off on emails, twitter, facebook, bebo, myspace and all that until after you’ve written. You can check them later, as a reward for writing. (Note to self, take own advice from time to time.)

Set aside a regular time each day to write. This is a difficult thing to do, because it means being selfish. It means telling the family you need to write. It means writing for yourself - and giving yourself permission to put yourself first - ahead of even your day job, or of mopping the floors or doing the laundry or walking the dog. Work helps pay the bills, but it can sap our emotional strength. So how about writing before work, or during a lunch break or on the train too or from work?

Are there any jobs around the house you can delegate. Seriously?

In the long run, what would you like to be known for? A great writer or a great housecleaner. Because you can be one or the other, but not both.

Feeling inspired yet?

Are you inspired to get up that bit earlier, while the house is quiet, so you can get straight into it? This is not so much about inspiration as motivation, but the two go hand in hand. If you’re motivated enough to write, you’ll find the inspiration begins to find you.

Always carry a notebook and pen wherever you go, because an overheard comment, funny incident, obstacle or event can provide inspiration. Plus, if you’re daydreaming and crash into someone, you’ll have pen and paper to exchange insurance details.

E-hem!

Sometimes reading a particularly good book inspires you to want to be that good. Or, reading a particularly unworthy book might make you angry enough to do better.

Online courses are brilliant at developing craft and giving you the confidence to go on. Because along with inspiration and motivation come confidence. They’re all intertwined. Along with talent, but you can work on that too.

Another way to get inspiration - this works for me at least - is to join a critique group, whether in person or online. Being around other writers always fires me up. In the week before the meeting I usually get a lot written, and the week afterwards too, because the meeting has given me an injection of fresh enthusiasm.

But the other two weeks in the middle can be a bit ‘bleh’. This time around, I’ve managed to work through the saggy two-week torpor through sheer determination. And a steady supply of chocolate.

Lately I have become a hooked on Twitter. I’m drawn to topics like #yalitchat and #scribechat. The questions and answers are often inspiring, motivating or sometimes plain good fun. Plus, writing can be an incredibly isolating experience, but it’s nice to know there are so many others out there doing the same thing. We may be alone, but we’re all in it together.

And how could I forget the best inspiration of all - blind terror? Never underestimate its motivational and inspirational force. I have one book out there in the world, and it’s sold a few thousand copies already (in a very difficult economy, so thank you, every single one of you). But, I can’t rest. I am at the copy editing stages of the second book and I desperately want to get the third book written so I can keep up the momentum. I’ve noticed if people like a book, they want to read the next one. Right now, if you don’t mind. What do you mean it’s not written yet. Get on with it!

Ebony McKenna is the author of Ondine: The Summer of Shambles. Out now with Egmont Books UK and Publisher’s Group Canada. Book two, The Autumn Palace, will be out in March 2011. She’s currently writing book three, The Duchess of Winter.

266 comments:

1 – 200 of 266   Newer›   Newest»
liakeyes said...

"Always carry a notebook and pen wherever you go, because an overheard comment, funny incident, obstacle or event can provide inspiration. Plus, if you’re daydreaming and crash into someone, you’ll have pen and paper to exchange insurance details."

Oh, how you made me laugh! And, yes, I'm inspired. I'm going to get up a bit earlier tomorrow and not check the internet, etc. until some words, any words, have made it on to the page. Thanks, Ebony! I'm off to check out ONDINE, which I've heard a lot of great things about!

TS Tate said...

Lia,
I was equally inspired! I loved this post and cannot wait to read Ondine!! Thanks for the comment.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Thank you TS for letting me play in your sandpit. I find nothing quite helps the writing process like sitting down at the computer with the file open.

But that would have been far too short a blog post, so I padded it out a bit :-)

Thanks Lia for joining in the fun. Hope you have a great time reading Ondine when you get your hands on it.

TS Tate said...

Thanks again, Ebony!

Cheryl Wright said...

Great post, Ebony!

Everyone, Ebony and I are in the same critique group, and I can tell you from first hand experience she's a very motivating person, and a wonderful writer.

Ondine: The Summer of Shambles is a fantastic book. Hilarious, touching.

This book is just the beginning of a wonderful writing career, I'm convinced of it.



Cheryl

TS Tate said...

Cheryl,
I don't doubt that one bit. Can't wait to read it.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Oh Cheryl, you are an angel! Thank you so much! *mwah!*

None of this would have happened if I hadn't joined the MRWG - and I'm convinced of that!

The story for Ondine and Shambles came about after I joined the writer's group, after I felt fresh motivation, after I got into really good writing habits and began to really focus on writing.

Cheryl Wright said...

Okay, I'm going to tell everyone, Ebs...

We call Ebony our 'motivating mama' because she motivates us all!

Do you still love me, Ebony??? LOL

Ebony McKenna. said...

Come on Cheryl, tell them the whole truth :-)

They call me the "BIGFAT" motivating mamma !

BIGFAT stands for 'Bottom is Glued (to the seat) Fingers Are Typing". It's a week of writing every day and getting it done. We have them every few months or so and it's a really positive way to encourage each other.

Yeah, Cheryl, I still love you, lol!

Cheryl Wright said...

Hehe, I wasn't sure you'd want me to tell everyone we call you our BigFat Motivating Mamma!!

Serena said...

Hi all,
I'm also in the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild and Ebony has been with us for several year. Her perseverence and enthusiasm is inspiration to us all. We're very proud of her wonderful achievements and I agree with Cheryl - Ondine: The Summer of Shambles is a wonderful read, and not just for the target audience (young adult) but everyone.

Wishing you continued success, our own BIGFAT Motivating Mamma!

Hugs
Serena
xoxox

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Ebony,
Coming in late here, as usual, great blog. You always have so many words of wisdom that you generously pass on. Ondine is a wonderful book, anyone who hasn't read it has missed out on a special treat.

Regards

Margaret

Margaret M said...

Hi,

Ondine is a fantastic read, with lots of laughs and who doesn’t love a ferret, even if they are smelly with sharp teeth!

You’re an inspiration Ebony and you've kept us entertained with your wicked sense of humour at many Melbourne Romance Writers Guild meetings!!

Hugs,
Margaret M

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