How Songs Inspire Writing

Have you ever had a song touch you in a way that you’ve been inspired to write how it made you feel? There’s a song by a country artist I continued to hear on the radio every time I was with my husband in the truck. I remember telling him, not only how much I loved the song, but how catchy it was and most important, it told a full length story in a matter of a few minutes.

I said, “How can a country song tell a story in a few minutes and sometimes I have a hard time doing it in 80,000 words?” His response, “I challenge you to write a novel based on one song.”

Within minutes, a story formed in my head–not fully detailed, but the basics–and that’s all I needed. I said, “Challenge accepted.”

That story turned out to be my 2018 Nanowrimo project I originally had titled as Eight Days of Christmas–an adult romcom, with a comp title of Sweet Home Alabama and the song Greatest Love Story by Lanco.

Because of the revisions needed for a different project I had on submission at the time, I had to set this one aside. At one point during Covid-19/quarantine, I picked it up again. I revised it, revised it again, sent it out to beta readers and CP’s, and edited the project again. It’s currently my secret project that has been bringing me joy during these, sometimes dark and uncertain times.

The Pitch: Isabella hasn’t celebrated her family’s tradition since she broke Leo’s heart six years ago. Now, she must return to her hometown in Colorado for her sister’s wedding and spend eight days completing holiday activities with the guy she still hates to love.

Here’s the song that inspired this story: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aHl0tlUYDBI

Here’s the Pinterest board for this story: https://www.pinterest.com/starlawrites/book-lets-meet-in-between/

Have you been inspired by a particular song? In what way? Has it inspired your writing? Prompted a particular story? I’d love to hear about it!

Is There Something You’d Like To Say, Karen? (Tips for Writers-On Surviving the holiday with family)

The holiday season is quickly approaching. For most, that brings mixed emotions. While there’s often sadness over loved ones who are no longer with us, whether by choice or death, there can also be old grudges or ongoing family feuds. Spending time with family and loved ones can be difficult and wonderful and awkward. If your family is aware of your art/creative outlet/writing, you’re vulnerable for every nuance.

I’ve been blessed to have many supportive relatives. Some ask me how my pursuit to traditional publication is going, how my current project is going or what it is about, or they tell me to not give up and they’re impressed with my perseverance. For me, I find it comforting when people ask me questions about how things are going. It makes me feel as if they care and are truly supportive of my goals and dreams. Lately, I’ve been finding that since it’s been a few years since I’ve been back into writing seriously, some family members are over it, or bored. But what those people don’t understand, (because they haven’t asked) is a journey to traditional publishing is often long.

If I find myself frustrated by *family over the holiday, I tend to go quiet. Sometimes it’s necessary to isolate myself as well. Taking time by myself can help me regroup. People who don’t understand the industry or the process, don’t really understand either, 1.) why publication takes so long, and 2.) why do I keep going. Yes, traditional publication is the goal, but writing is therapeutic and a passion that has always been inside of me. So regardless if I ever get traditionally published or not, it’s important for me to reiterate to family that I’m not planning to give up on writing.

What can you do if you find yourself in the “hot” seat?

-If your relative is giving you a hard time about “still doing that whole writing thing”; force them to sit there and listen to an hour of you educating them on the process of traditional publishing.

-Be prepared to give an explanation of “why don’t you just self publish?”; while I both respect and support authors who self publish, it’s not for everyone. So be prepared to have an explanation for why this isn’t for you. And if you don’t have one, maybe self-publishing is right for you (?).

-If they ask you, “why don’t you just quit?”; for me, quitting isn’t an option. Writing is a form of “self care”. Quitting would’t be good for my disorders like anxiety and depression. It’s important they know that you have set a goal and you intend to work hard at accomplishing that goal to prove it to yourself. Also, for me, I want to show my kids that with hard work and perseverance, dreams can come true. Find your reasons and list them.

-You can also go with the, “give it to them straight” approach; if you’re outspoken, tell your family members exactly what you want to and need to. Be firm and concise. You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells. They’re your family. If they don’t love you and can’t be supportive, that’s on them.

-You can also go with the, “isolation” approach; for some people it’s easier to keep your mouth shut and make nice and isolate yourself during a holiday gathering. While it’s disappointing if this is the case, this could be the healthiest approach for you. You need to protect yourself and your art. Take care of your mental health.

Good luck to all of my fellow creators. May you have a wonderful time celebrating with your loved ones and treasuring all you’ve been blessed with and are grateful for.

*To my family who thinks this post was inspired by you; it wasn’t. This is not about you 😉

Benefits of Writing by Hand

There is something about writing by hand that I find therapeutic. When I have a pen in my hand and a new, blank notebook in front of me, it takes me back to when I first began writing. It reminds me of the joy and love I felt long ago. As the words bleed from my fingertips, it feels raw and thrilling. The ideas seem to flow faster than when I type. Sometimes I cross things out as I go or add to the margins. I find that my best and cleanest first drafts are the ones I write by hand.

My typical process: Hand write first draft, type second draft into the app/program *Storyist, then email it to myself and create a Word document.

I find that if I’m feeling either stuck or uninspired, writing by hand helps get the creative juices moving again. Next time you’re feeling that way, maybe give it a try.

*Storyist; is a program that is similar to Scrivener though I’ve heard it is a bit more user friendly and a bit cheaper. I love it because it formats your manuscript correctly so it’s professional and clean and ready to submit to agents or publishers. https://storyist.com

To Write or Not to Write?

Somewhere along the way, someone gave the advice that to be a “Real” writer, you have to write every day. Sure, if you’ve read *Stephen King’s book On Writing I believe he does say something along these lines. But mostly I think what he was trying to convey is that, to become a better writer you have to actually write. I know, what a concept, right? I mean, if your goal is to run a marathon you should probably start by putting in place a running routine that will build your strength and longevity so you’re ready to actually run a marathon.

Same thing goes with writing. Regardless if your goal is to write a full length novel, a short story, or poetry. If you want to get better at it, you need to practice, condition it. Stephen King goes on to share in his book that he writes every day, including his birthday. If you’ve been writing for any length of time, I think it’s safe to say, that’s impressive. No matter how determined you are, (and I like to think that I am) burnout, writer’s block and mental health condition are real things.

To write well, you also have to take care of yourself and your mind. Everyone needs a break once in a while. Take a self care day if you feel you need it and try not to feel guilty about it. Sometimes just a walk outside, a shower, meeting a friend for coffee can help without taking a full day off. Sometimes writers need a full week or a month or a year. Take the time you need. Your story and your creativity will thank you.

If you need to hear this: You’re still a “Real” writer even if you don’t write every day.

*Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is actually fascinating and I highly recommend.