Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to Keep the Creative Spark Alive

The Spark is that tiny fire burning in our hearts. It pushes us to keep writing despite the nay-sayers, the ups and downs, the doubts, the distractions, the crazies and the closed doors. We need to keep that spark burning because it's a fragile thing, easily snuffed. Each writer needs to find his or her own way to relight the Spark, but below are some suggestions which might help.

Keep the Spark sheltered
  • Keep it in a safe place, surrounded by a supportive group, encouraging friends and other writers who understand the fragility.
  • Delight in the Spark by remembering what it is about writing you love so much.
  • Be kind to the Spark by easing off on the pressure 'to get published'.

Keep the Spark fuelled
  • A writer's fuel is reading good books written by authors we admire.
  • It's getting out and trying new things, taking on new experiences, spending time with family and friends.
  • It's research and non-fiction reading. Our strange and wonderful world is full of inspiration.
  • It's watching people, paying attention to how they dress, speak, move. It's taking note of their reactions to the world around them.
  • It's finding encouragement wherever it might be. For example, the Spark can be ignited by reading our own older works. Occasionally I'm pleasantly surprised by work I used to think was seriously ho-hum. Time has a way of clearing our muddy view.
  • It's writing. Odd that writing can be a fuel for more writing, but it's true. The more we write, the easier it becomes and the more ideas come flooding our way.

Use the Spark
The spark is like a muscle. It needs to be used or it will atrophy. Just as writing is a fuel, it's also an exercise for our creative muscle. Don't let the spark wither and die. Don't let ideas go wasted. Write them down to explore later. Write a journal. Write flash fiction, essays, outlines, concepts, thoughts, observations. Write snippets, captured moments, short stories and novels. Just keep writing.
 

What has threatened to dampen your Spark... and what have you done to guard against it? 

This post was written for Alex J Cavanaugh's  Insecure Writers' Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.

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I had a great time during my mini break doing research for a possible new project. I looked up so many government sites on biological warfare and emergency procedures that my hubby thought we might be getting a knock on the door soon. Hopefully not! Famous last words: It's just research for a novel... I swear! 
 

66 comments:

  1. "It needs to be used or it will atrophy". Truer words could not be spoken......When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

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  2. I need to focus more on what I love about writing, which isn't revising. I love people watching and tomorrow, while I'm sitting in the jury pool, I'm going to find some new characters for books! Thanks for the tip.

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    1. Ah, the infamous jury pool. A great place for inspiration. Best of luck with that.

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  3. You're right about the spark - it can be a delicate thing, unless we look after it.

    Sometimes I get story ideas that seem they might not go anywhere, or will be too hard to research or complete, or that don't fit my usual markets. The ideas are sparks. I note them down, trying not to chuck on the cold water of doubt. Sometimes nothing happens, sometimes they begin to smolder. If they do, I feed them with more words hoping they'll burst into a blaze of a finished story.

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    1. Beautifully said. Dismissing an idea because of initial doubts can often be a mistake.

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  4. Keeping the spark going is important for writers. Nice talk Lynda and let neither of us ever lose our sparks. Your IWSG post had me laughing, stop worrying the hubs. But never slack on the research, books need to be properly done no matter the risks. Even the government, though, hopefully not the government if you get my drift.

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    1. I'm probably being watched as we speak! ;)
      But seriously, it's fascinating reading.

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  5. Absolutely, Lynda, I stopped writing for a while, it too so long to get going again, now on track. Thankfully, my friend in Atlanta, 3000 miles away, who visits me in my study every morning on Skype, helps to keep me going. :0)

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  6. In other words, if you vanish again, we'll know why...
    I think a bigger flame took over my spark.
    I've never read the finished version of either of my books. I think I would be horrified knowing I couldn't fix anything.

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    1. Oh, it's too soon for that!! Read your finished books in another five years, at least!

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  7. It's a bit like finding the right balance isn't it:) I can't agree more on with you post... well said.

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  8. Be kind to the Spark by easing off on the pressure 'to get published. Favorite line--once I stop worrying about getting published, I can write with joy!

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    1. and it's that joy which shines through in the prose because we're less worried about what other people will think.

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  9. oooh, hubby hubs has interesting theories :) You should make him write a post about this, it would be an interesting reading :)

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    1. His only theory is that brontosauruses are thin at one end, thick in the middle, and thin at the other end.

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  10. Hi Lyn. Welcome back. I hope all that interesting research leads to a blockbuster.

    I like the keeping the spark sheltered by a supportive group.

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  11. Hi, Lynda, I likes all of your points. And I especially liked your tips for re-fueling. Reading work by authors I admire does get the ideas flowing for me again. I loved your husband's comment.

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  12. I find the spark gets fuel from odd sources... dreams I can't control, but power walks definitely help. TV shows, strangely--not for the plot but for the pacing or to evaluate character relationships.

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    1. there is much to be said for power walks :)

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  13. Love this! The spark really is a muscle and needs to be exercised often!! :)

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  14. I love this post! Especially your tips in the "fuel" section. Isn't it funny (and wonderful!) how writing is often the best way to strengthen the Spark?

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  15. Great metaphor! If I didn't keep my flame sheltered with a very supportive crit group, I'd have given up before this.

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    1. Three cheers for your supportive crit group. So glad you haven't given up.

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  16. I'm a very strong advocate of protecting the spark from those who wish to douse it with criticism and negativity. We don't need that here. Writers get enough rejection as it is.

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    1. Whoever thinks writing is easy, is dreaming!

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  17. I expect fuel for the spark can also be in new experiences.

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  18. I just make fun of the negative nelly's that keeps it alive and well lol

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  19. This is definitely something I wish I were better at. Thank heavens for great support people who keep me going :)

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  20. LOL. Best writing advice I've read today. (And that's saying something.) I feed my spark with cheese--lots and lots of cheese. (Oh, and sunshine.)

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    1. oddly enough, sunshine has miraculous properties to feed the creative soul. And, of course, a favourite food ;)

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  21. Redaing, reading, and more reading always helps inspire me:) But you also need great people aroudn you and time to write.

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  22. My spark has been barely lit this summer but I'm trying to get it burning again. Love your tips.

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  23. Very true, got to keep using it to keep using it.

    mood

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  24. Taking some time away helps that spark a lot. Then I agree with Mark. Reading is a great spark kindler.

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  25. Great post! I think negativity and criticism (especially self-criticism!) are the things that threaten to dampen the spark, but I get encouragement from talking to other writers, rereading my old work and reminding myself of what I love about a project. Sometimes just taking a break helps! :)

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    1. yep, self-criticism is probably worse than any other negative influence.

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  26. I've never researched biological weapons, but much of my research brings me the same fears as yours :)

    Very inspirational post.

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  27. The one thing that has dampened my spark more than anything are poor sales and bad reviews, in that order. Then I remind myself that I write what I write, and I can't control the outcome. I love this post, Lynda!

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  28. May the spark be with you.

    Loved this, Lyn, but I usually feel that way after reading one of your posts. I best related to the "read authors whom you admire" for your fuel.

    And welcome back. Yes...the NSA is watching you now.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. aw, thank you so much. You are always so encouraging.

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  29. HA! I could totally relate to your comment about the research you've been doing, because among other things, I've been researching home-made explosives. (It's amazing how much info is available, isn't it?)

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    1. lolol, yep, it's actually quite scary how much info is out there ;)

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  30. Very good advice. :)
    August co-host and IWSG #110

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  31. I do love to ignite stuff - wait, now I'll be monitored.

    Thanks for coming back and lighting sparks amongst the blogging world!

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    1. From one pyro to another: did you know it's possible to set a lemon on fire using nothing but a candle's flame? (giggle)

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  32. The spark is still there, I just have found myself suddenly without as much time as I wanted. Using the spark fuels the spark. Every little bit of writing helps keep it alive. Now if you'll excuse me, it's 5:30 in the morning and I need to do some writing!

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  33. I absolutely love your post, Lynda, and it's so true! That spark is true for faith also, but I never thought of it for my writing. When I toss my writing aside it gets harder and harder to get back, now that I began a daily regiment of writing it's getting easier. The spark has ignited!Thank you so much for sharing!!

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  34. Yes. Loved your post. But I always do.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  35. Love this - and needed it too! Thanks so much. Glad you had a good break!

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  36. I make it my duty to feed the spark. Trying new things, reading, watching, eavesdropping. All of these are MUSTS. Great post!

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  37. Hi, Lynda,

    What a terrific subject of the IWSG... We all have been there. I love the idea of keeping our sparks alive through reading, observation, and LIVING. Such good points.

    TRYING NEW THINGS is a must! Change is such a good thing, but so many of us are afraid of it.

    Last week I had ventured out into a new service for bloggers... Its going well!

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  38. It's so true, Lynda, the more I write the better I feel. Even if it's just brainstorming about nonsense, just getting words onto paper or journaling feels good and gets those creative juices flowing.

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  39. I'm utterly inspired, what a great IWSG post. It's so right, and too easy to forget these little nuggets of wisdom. I may have to Evernote this :)

    Thanks Lynda.

    Shah X
    http://bit.ly/14AdKXQ

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  40. Thank you Lynda, the mobility scooter arrives tomorrow, see how we cope!!

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  41. Great advice. Watching people, that's a good one.

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  42. Reading and music always keep the spark alive!
    People watching is also a great activity.
    Writer In Transit

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  43. Awesome reminder, Lynda! It's very fragile indeed. You mention some of my fave ways to keep mine burning. I try to surround myself by positive peeps and influences who make me feel good about myself, and that works for me as well.

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  44. Great post and great inspiration.

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  45. The first one is so important, •A writer's fuel is reading good books written by authors we admire.

    I'm reading two books now and gaining much inspiration as they are a bit out of my normal genre. One is Chick Lit and a very good story at that.

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  46. An excellent post for the IWSG. I particularly like the point about easing off the pressure to just get published. This is something I really have to remember every now and again when I feel I'm losing the confidence to carry on.

    Thanks for the boost.

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  47. Excellent post! It's easy to let the "get published" part consume the spark. This is a good reminder to keep writing!

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  48. Thank you. You always surprise me with what I need. :-)

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  49. Excellent post! (I thought of that myself, even though it's exactly what Sherry Ellis said above LOL) It's easy for a writer's spark to get smothered, especially in the querying and submission process where egos and confidence take a beating. :) Great ideas for fostering that spark and keeping it going!!

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  50. Hmm, I wrote a reply and cyberspace ate it. I said this was an excellent post with great ideas for how to keep that all-important spark going. It's easy for that spark to get smothered, especially when in the querying and submission processes!

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    1. After a few days, any comments go to my moderation folder. Normally it's fine, but I was a bit late posting this week.

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