You’ve heard of artists losing their muse. It happens to writers, too.
Inspiration can come in many forms. It can come to you while watching a sporting event, a pretty girl nervously striding along a dark path, or a woman crying in a marina restroom. But sometimes a writer faces a blank page on the screen and nothing comes. Those are the bad days
Instead of reaching for that half gallon of ice cream and a spoon (or in my case, a bag of Nestle’s chocolate chips), I’ve found a few things that work for me.
My inspiration for the next book generally comes from characters in previous books I’ve written. In Scandal’s Bride, my current Soul Mate release, Lady Gwendolyn appears as a minor character in Scandal’s Child, the first book in the series. She’s a no-nonsense, impetuous bluestocking who is more interested in people than society’s rules. She’s also in need of a hero. John, younger brother of the hero in Scandal’s Child, has a dilemma. He’s inherited a crumbling estate in faraway Yorkshire and needs to marry a woman with a substantial dowry. Voila! My story—a marriage of convenience for mutal benefit.
Years ago, when I began writing, I lived in the Northern California wine country. So many stories presented themselves—enough for a series. Most wine country books are about wealthy winery dynasties. My characters are the people who work for them. The first three books are about the Reynoso sisters. The other books in the series feature their male cousins. A few peripheral characters bind all the books together.
The best inspiration (for me) comes from people I see and wonder about.
I lived on a boat off and on for four years, cruising waters on both U.S. coasts, Canada, and the rivers of middle America. Those years gave me lots of ideas to store away for future use, but I could have jotted down just as many possible plots by staying at home.
My advice to writers who have lost their muse is this: look around you, sit in a restaurant or coffee shop and study the patrons, read the news on your smart phone. Start with a kernel of an idea and play with it. Do a few “what ifs.” Set it aside if nothing comes to you, and try again with another story.
Most of all believe in yourself and your ability. Once a few words get on a page, your ideas will begin to flow. Remember the famous quote, most often attributed to Nora Roberts. “You can’t edit a blank page.” It’s my mantra.