Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Inspiration Club

Jack London said,
"Don't loaf and invite inspiration. Light out after it with a club."

Isn’t this being a writer thing an interesting gig? We get to make up stories and entertain people. We also get to blame our Muses for those periods of drought, and inactivity. What if it isn't your Muse who is to blame though? What if it really is you?

One thing we've learned is that you can't just invite inspiration. As Jack London said, you really do have to go after it—guns blazing, clubs swinging, full-tilt boogie! Sometimes the club we use is a writers' weekend. We model this after a weekend our friend and fellow author, J.L. Wilson put together. That weekend at Turtle Lake Casino is a twice-yearly event and involves a lot of work, some fun, and copious amounts of inspiration – sometimes accompanied by several glasses of wine.

Our weekends are now in Texas since we both live here. The lovely city of Waco is the halfway point between us. We’ll find a hotel that has affordable prices and split the cost. We try to find a room with a mini-fridge and microwave in addition to an internet connection. We find that bringing our own food helps defray the cost and allows us to spend more time writing and less time worrying about having to get dressed up and go out to get something to eat.

Once in the rooms we get serious. We unpack the wine, the chocolate and the computers—usually in that order. Generally we have decided what we are going to work on beforehand, though sometimes we’ll find inspiration on the way to the hotel and start on something completely different than we’d planned. One of the pluses of being a writing team is that we can work on more than one manuscript at a time.

The last weekend we had resulted in:
  • Over 7K being written on two different manuscripts
  • Plotting an entirely new series
  • Defining characters for this new series
  • Refining some ideas on the new series like who the villain is and who kisses whom—or not
  • Inspiration that carried over to the next week

Just like a good book, you have to pace a writers' weekend. Otherwise your Muse may go into Cranky Toddler Mode. That's where she sits and whines if she is not allowed to do anything else. So we do take breaks. We hop on the treadmill. We go soak our heads aka take a dip in the pool. Checking email is a HUGE distraction so we try to limit that—that means Twitter, too, Arwen!

Then when the writing begins, we are ready. Email, the TV and all other distractions get turned off. Cai puts on her headphones for her music because Arwen is one of those who needs silence to write. This is our version of “lighting out” after that inspiration with a club…but the “club” in question is sometimes just the two of us bouncing ideas off one another.

So…how do YOU light out after inspiration? Do you actively seek ways to inspire your Muse to new and greater heights? Do you find your inspiration in music? Poetry? Art? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

By the way, you can read the first chapter of our most recent release here.

Who Is Marilu Mann?

Marilu Mann is a multi-published author with Ellora's Cave. Her latest release, Sex And Trouble, features a brand-new witch and her sexy demon butler. Her next release is part of a multi-author series titled 1-800-Dom-help. Marilu's story, Needing Harte, is a M/M BDSM that proves love sometimes overcomes control.

Cai Smith and Stephanie Lynch comprise the writing team of Marilu Mann. One email series kicked off their first manuscriptwhich they finished as a rough draft (VERY rough draft) in three and a half months. Stephanie attended the RWA National Conference in Denver in 2002, and had the opportunity to pitch that first novel to an editor who requested a full. Not bad for a first pitch,eh? Though it was rejected, they were started on a quest for publication.

Taking the pre-published contest plunge in 2005, they finaled in six contests and won two others with Changing Hearts. That manuscript was requested by two editors and two agents and was eventually contracted by Ellora's Cave along with its prequel, Changing Times. Those are the first two books in Marilu Mann's Lusting Wild series.Visit them at Marilu Mann - Escape Into The Fantasy.


Clarissa Southwick said...

I love writers' retreats! But I'm afraid I'm not as productive as you are. The best writing environment for me is setting a deadline and sending all the kids to school. It's the only way I get serious word count in. Thanks for a great post.

J L said...

I am flattered that you've followed my model. I wish you folks were closer so you could join us again, but I still think I may bring the Turtleistas to Texas some cold winter and we'll take over a hotel & have a great time!

I get so much out of our little retreats. There's just a lot of energy at them. I may not use all the ideas I get, but it's great to get another perspective on my work.

Shayla Kersten said...

Our DSRA group did a writer's weekend last summer. We rented a condo in Hot Springs Village and split the cost between 8 or 9 of us. The condo had three bedrooms plus we used blow up mattresses. We shared food costs and cooking duties.

We did our in a series of timed writing sprints. All of us accomplished quite a bit of writing on top of having a great time.

Having other writers to bounce ideas off of is the greatest inspiration but ideas can come from just about anywhere, and have!

Great post!

V. J. Devereaux said...

Being a pantser as opposed to a plotter, my inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. Two were kicked off by dreams. Another was inspired by something I'd read about a revival of Roman decadence. Another came from a picture, and my current one from a news story, enhanced by a recent trip.
For me, though, I have to admit, the idea of writing with a bunch of other people around gives me the willies. *laughing* But what I wouldn't give sometimes to be able to pick up a phone or tag an e-mail to someone and just say "Is this just crap, or is it okay?" LOL

Marilu Mann said...

Clarissa, I think for the retreats we are productive because we are determined to get the most out of our time. :)

JL, we adore you woman! Shrimp skewers forever!

Shayla, the timed writing was a new thing for us this time. I think we were both surprised at how much we accomplished.

V.J., the nice thing is that you don't have to share it if you don't want to. Cai and I did read our to one another (which always helps me catch things I miss).

Arwen. :)

Jill James said...

I love writers retreats. I missed my chapters one this year, that sucked. I'm so inspired after one and the writing is so amazing while you are there.

Lee Lopez said...

Writing retreats are so helpful..I'm with Jill we both missed ours this year..Maybe next year.

Mona Risk said...

No wonder I don't write enough. i had the laptop with me but forgot the chocolate and wine. Damn!!!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I go the same place every time my muse needs stimulating. I watch Phantom of the Opera. The music, the Scot and the story seems to become magic to my muse. So far it has never failed me yet. Besides, it is a nice and relaxing way to spend 2 hours and 20 minutes. :)

Joanne said...

Hurray for inspiration, ladies. And Writer's retreats. It's a wonderful way to recharge our batteries.