Monday, January 27, 2014

Keeping the Spark Alive During the Work Week By Susan Diane Johnson



Susan Diane Johnson
Hey writers, how often do ideas come to you? What do you do when they come? I've had some ideas drift away on the busyness of my day never to reappear. How about you? Susan Diane Johnson, our guest today, points out how writer's block and spontaneous ideas go together and how to ward off the former by collecting the latter. Enjoy!




Keeping the Spark Alive During the Work Week
By Susan Diane Johnson


Many writers work full-time at another job, including myself. I wish I had words of wisdom regarding time-management, but I don’t. I need those words myself. What I hope I can speak to is creativity and how not to lose it.

A day job can kill your creativity, even if it’s one you love. And I dearly love my job. But because of the kind of work I do, it emotionally exhausts me to the point that I don’t always feel like writing when I get home. What I’ve learned the hard way is that one day away from your manuscript turns to two days and then ten. Before you even realize it, you’ve lost the spark that fueled your imagination and it becomes a chore to write.

Writers must write every day, even if it’s just a sentence, a paragraph, or an idea.

The most important thing I’ve learned is to not put off writing down ideas as they come to me. I might think I’m going to remember the brilliant scene I dreamed while I was sleeping, or the sparkling conversation between my characters that I thought of while I was in the shower, but I won’t unless I write it down as soon as I can. I’ve lost more ideas by ignoring them, so I’ve learned to keep a writing tablet by my bed for just this purpose.

Obviously I can’t write while I’m working. So how do I handle it when I have some burning idea during the work day? That same writing tablet I wrote on when I woke up or after I showered, goes everywhere with me. The very instant I get a break, I jot down enough of the idea that I won’t lose it.

I’ve become a thought collector. The act of putting the ideas on paper keeps my thoughts alive during the day and helps me look forward to the time I can put everything into my document. It helps keep the spark growing so my manuscript can stay alive.

And if I can’t type them in until the weekend, I’ve usually collected enough thoughts during the week so when I sit down at the computer I have enough ideas to keep that old nemesis called writer’s block as far away from me as possible.

If you lose enthusiasm for your manuscript during the week, I encourage you to make it a habit to become a thought collector.

~~~~~

True North
Several months after a tragic accident that claimed their son, Lisa and Joe Kendall's marriage has fallen apart. Lisa prays every day for Joe to come back home so they can grieve their loss together.

Their marriage isn't the only thing suffering, and Joe is forced into taking time off so he can find "closure". Unsure where to spend two weeks, Joe decides to go on the Alaskan cruise they were supposed to take with their son. The last person he expects to see once the ship is well under way is Lisa, who hopes two weeks alone with Joe will help restore their marriage.

What she doesn’t know is that Joe has already decided the best thing for Lisa is for him to be out of her life.

~~~~~

Susan Diane Johnson is the author of two contemporary novels, True North, and No Substitute. Her first historical novel, Sweet Mountain Music, will be available in May. Susan is a regular contributor to the Inkwell Inspirations blog, a group blog by Christian woman and for Christian women. She is also member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and National Cancer Registrars’ Association. During the day, Susan is a cancer registrar at her local hospital and lives in northwest Washington with her husband and their naughty little cat. They are the parents of a wonderful grown son, and hope to one day become grandparents. You can contact Susan through her website (below), or at glorybooks@yahoo.com.


29 comments:

  1. Isn't that horrid? Usually it's the shower for me. An idea pops into my head or the perfect dialog for a scene I'm working on and I can't get to my smartphone fast enough. I use both Inkpad and Voice Recorder on my phone. Not too good at writing things out. Inspiring post, Susan, and your book looks fantastic! :)

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    1. Dora, I usually get the best ideas in the shower, too. I have never gotten the hang of voice recording. I mean, I've done it, but I always feel awkward. Thank you, Dora!

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    2. Great idea, Dora! I'm still trying to learn my smart phone - which is much, much smarter than I am! But I really like this idea.

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  2. What is about showers that sparks so much creativity in writers? I'm beginning to understand how the shower scene in Psycho came about. :)

    "Thought collector," I love that term. Thanks, Susan.

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    1. Again with the showers. Lol. I think it's because that warm water relaxes us to the point that our creative brain comes alive. Thank you, Sandra!

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  3. I always forget to use my voice recorder app, but I've got scads of notebooks all over the house, car and beside the bed -- especially beside the bed. I seem to have my best ideas as I'm drifting off to sleep.

    I like the "thought collector" term, too, Susan. Writer's Block is my nemesis, too. I've been thinking about buying a toy villain, putting "WB" on it's chest, then pummeling it once a day just to show writer's block who's boss. LOL!

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    1. The writer's block villain. I love it, Angie! I have a ton of notebooks, scattered everywhere, too.

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  4. Great post. My ideas come at night...and are usually forgotten by dawn LOL. The "thought collector" term is a great one, Suzie, and your story sounds so poignant and heart-touching. God bless.

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    1. Thank you, Tanya, so much. :)

      It's hard to capture those nighttime thoughts. Sometimes those are our best ones, too.

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  5. Great to have you, Suzie! Thanks for visiting!

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    1. Thank you, Annette. It's fun to be here. I hope no one minds that I can only comment at lunch, on break, and after work. Plus I'm on PST.

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  6. LOL! Yes ... the shower is one of my creative places too.

    The other two best time for ideas is while I'm driving (if I'm in the car alone) and first thing in the morning when I have time to linger and let my mind wander for a few minutes.I've also gotten into the habit of writing ideas down as soon as I can so I don't forget them.

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    1. Dawn, we need some kind of dry erase board, that can withstand the water from the shower.

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    2. That's what we need! Someone to invent something we can writer on in the shower. Do they have those?

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    3. I've never seen one, but I sure would like one. Lol.

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  7. So glad to hear others admit the day job is exhausting! And you are so right about not staying away from my manuscript.

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    1. It's hard, Terri, isn't it. I wish there was an easy answer. Sigh... Thank you for visiting!

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  8. Don't have any fancy ICAs (Idea Collecting Apparatus), but I do keep a notebook handy at all times. Ideas are so easily lost forever. And there's so much you can get done a moment here and a moment there. I'm plotting out a new book, and I had some fabulous ideas while I was waiting at the doctor's office this morning. Safely collected now. And now, when I have time to sit down and write, I don't have to say "What now?"

    Thanks, Suzie, for the wise words.

    And read True North, people. It's SO touching.

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    1. DeAnna, you are so sweet. Thank you! :)
      I have so many ideas written down. It's fun to go back and read through them. Especially if a lot of time has passed since you first wrote them down.

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  9. Wonderful post, Suzie! I'm one of those with notebooks scattered from here to yon...they're in my car, in my purse, by my bed, at my .k, cluttering up tables on my living room...I love notebooks. Guess that means I'll never truly move into the current century, right? Love my computer, but please, don't take paper away from me. lol And I love the term "idea collector." That's what we all have to be. So many wonderful thoughts on this post and in the comment section, as well!

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    1. Delia, I am such a creature of habit. I usually do my best writing longhand. In fact I can't brainstorm on the computer. It has to be in writing.

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  10. Thank you, Suzie for these excellent ideas.

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  11. I think most writers have a day job. Great advice, Suzie.

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    1. I think that's very true, Christine. And thank you. :)

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  12. Great post, Suzie! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thank you, Susie! I also loved the post you had up today. Very touching!

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  13. Love this, Suzie... it validates the process for so many of us! I've toyed with the idea of using the voice memo feature on my phone to record ideas, but haven't done it yet, and yes, have things scribbled on the backs of envelopes, sticky notes, and random notebooks all over the place!

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  14. Thank you, Niki. I have a collection of sticky notes and envelopes, too. Oh, and I have two notebooks in my purse. I know that's excessive, but what if I fill one up and don't have anything to write on? ;)

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