10 Comments

Keeping the Fire Warm

School is in.

Which means long hours, late nights, and no time to write. Not if I want my family to like me.

Dan Wells recently mentioned in a podcast that he worked a high-hour corporate job while he was trying to break in as a novelist. He succeeded and has multiple books out. But he says if he could go back and do it again, he’d spend more time with his family than writing with the precious little spare time he had. I thought that was fascinating.

So how do I combat my frustration when I look back and see I haven’t written a single word in five days? If I’ve been slacking or “not in the creative mood”, that’s on me, and I need to put my behind in a chair and start banging out words.

But more often than not I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that there are going to be some days where I just won’t have time to write if I want to see my kids.

In the past, when situations out of my control kept me from writing, I’d get down on myself. I’d question my commitment and all sorts of other nice things. But not so much now.

Fire

When I counsel other people about things that frustrate them, I often remind them to make sure their cannons are aimed in the right direction. In marriage, my enemy isn’t my spouse. It’s the enemy of my soul who wishes to get between me and my spouse. So, I have to get the cannons facing him rather than my bride if I want to solve anything.

One of the ways I’ve learned to combat hectic periods in life is to amplify my excitement for my stories. When I’m excited, it’s much easier to remember that I’m working on my story even when I’m not writing.

One of the ways I do that is through music. If I find a song, album, or band that conjures up story scenes in my mind, I play those songs like crazy. Certain songs become something greater, like movie music for a scene.

And that gets me amped about my story.

For most of us, writing is something we do alongside our “day job”. Even most published authors don’t get to sit down at a computer for eight hours a day to bang out their next best seller. When life gets busy, don’t get frustrated. Don’t get discouraged. Find a way to keep the fire warm.

When you find what works for you, those busy times can become the periods when your flame is burning the brightest. And when you do get to sit down, the words come so much easier 🙂

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About Will Ramirez

Will Ramirez grew up with a love for God's Word and fantastical worlds. The first passion led him to pastor Calvary Chapel Lighthouse for the the last 17 years. The second led him to create the world of Adme, the setting for his coming debut novel, an epic fantasy titled Soul Yearning. He lives in Central Florida with his bride of seventeen years and their four children. Since 2010, he's been a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and serves on the leadership team of Word Weavers of Orlando. He is currently working on the second book of the Godslayer series as well as The Unspoken, book one of a dark fantasy trilogy. In the land of Adme, powerful beings rule as deities and compete with one another for followers. But when a young priest is revealed as the prophesied godslayer, the pantheon unites to destroy him.

10 comments on “Keeping the Fire Warm

  1. Great reminder, Will. Music does the same for me. I have playlists for each book I write, and I often listen to them when I can’t be at the computer. Also, if I’m stuck writing a scene, a song often breaks the block or gets the mood set to put my head “onstage” with my characters. The true fuel for the fire, though, is time with God and with family. After all, that’s the source of all inspiration.

  2. I don’t know that this approach really works for me, but I’m glad to hear someone beating the encouragement drum anyway.

    I can be really excited about my story and still not disciplined about sitting down to write. Or really excited but still not have the words flow when I do sit down.

    But optimism is a good choice, regardless of past performance. So I choose optimism. 😉

    • I have to say that probably 6 or 7 out of 10 times I sit down to write, it’s not because I’ve got words that are gushing to break out of my mind. I make myself sit down. Writing is hard work, and it’s easy to sit around doing nothing.

      I do find it much easier to get into the rhythm of writing if I’ve been dwelling on my scenes (pre-writing). David Farland was an influential mentor for Stephanie Myers, Brandon Sanderson, and other big names in the speculative genre. He says the main reason for writer’s block is that we just don’t know the scene we’re about to write about well enough.

      For me, music plays an influential role in my pre-writing. Just today I was listening to an old song and it sparked a solution to a plot hole I’d been trying to fix. We’re all different, so music won’t work for everyone. But I do think we all need to find some pre-writing techniques that work for us in order to be productive even when we’re not sitting in front of a computer.

      Glad you’re choosing optimism. Keep writing!

  3. I definitely get this. I’m commenting between the end of my work day and dinner.

  4. I’ve quit worrying about becoming a NY Time Best Seller. Instead I concentrate on writing stories that uplift and hopefully inspire readers. I may never see a big paycheck, but if I can make a difference in at least one reader, then it’s worth it. That thought is what keeps me going

  5. This hits home. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Blessings,
    Brittany

  6. Terri Main taught me that even 10 or 15 minutes of writing is better than none. Even if it only yields a few sentences, it keeps you in touch with the story.

    That said, now that my son is in college, I totally relate to Wells’s comment. I remember all the times my boy sat in the living room playing video games while I sat in my office writing, and I wish I had more often turned off both gadgets and pulled out Heroscape or Munchkin or any of the other games that he loves and I don’t, and played with him.

    You’re making the right choice, Will. Stick with it.

    • “Terri Main taught me that even 10 or 15 minutes of writing is better than none. Even if it only yields a few sentences, it keeps you in touch with the story.”

      This is an area I need to get better at as a writer. It’s my number one goal lately. Write something, even if it’s just a sentence.

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