It’s the season of giving. Giving thoughtful gifts to loved ones, friends, and those who make our lives easier.

 

But do you ever give yourself a present? Sometimes I’ll see a pair of gloves or a top I’d like while I’m out shopping for others, and decide to get it for me, wrap it up, and label it: “From Santa.”

This week we’re featuring great books on our Facebook page that are essential reads for aspirin41X1HeR9ZVL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_g writers. Send the list out to loved ones, or if you happen to be near your favorite independent bookstore, pick one up for yourself and wrap it up in pretty festive paper. After all, what could be more fun than getting advice from some of the best writers in the world on how to do what you want to do?

 

Another gift to give yourself is the gift of inspiration. The inspiration of a new book idea. The inspiration that leads you to figure out how to solve a major plot twist that’s been bugging you for days. The inspiration in finding the right words to show exactly how the protagonist is feeling when the man of her dreams is standing next to her and has no idea she exists. The inspiration that hits just as you’re falling asleep, that gives you the brilliant idea of how to structure your memoir in a way that nobody else has done before. The inspiration of how to find two extra hours in every day that you can devote to writing.

Inspiration is everywhere, but your mind has to be open to it. A writing friend and I just had a wonderful weekend together attending a writers’ conference in Asheville, and were inspired throughout by all the workshops we attended with talented authors. But perhaps the most fun was bringing our laptops down to her parents’ living room (our gracious hosts) and reading passages aloud to each other from our works in progress. My friend couldn’t figure out a plot for her new book, and suddenly, inspiration struck through collaboration, and twenty minutes later we had a really cool plot worked out, and a fun career for one of her protagonists that would provide many laughs. That hour we spent together inspiring one another was priceless.

How can you find inspiration? It can be through tossing ideas together with a friend, but that time is hard to get, especially as a working parent. I find that my most inspiring moments come from:

  • Taking a shower – I can’t tell you how many times a shower has solved a plot problem. I don’t know why hot water and soap helps, but I know I’m not the only one.
  • Going for a drive – You may make fun of me driving around town and singing out loud to Todd Rungren’s “Hello It’s Me,” or Bruno Mars “Grenade,” but there’s something about driving and tunes that will unlock a vault of ideas.

For more eco-friendly ideas,

  • Reading amazing books. If I can’t figure out a way to solve a problem, I’ll turn to the masters. How do they describe their protagonists? How does their dialogue read? How much backstory do they have to start their books?
  • Watching documentaries. There’s nothing like pure facts to get you going. I had the pleasure of speaking once with Debra Dean, who wrot51H8A2ZHIGL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_e the The Madonnas of Leningrad. She was inspired to write her book when she saw a documentary on the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. A book idea was born, and even though she never got to see the actual museum until after she got a book contract, she poured herself into the research of her book thanks to that PBS documentary.
  • Taking a walk. There’s nothing like nature for inspiration. The wonderful humorist/essayist David Sedaris walks many miles a day and writes about his experiences in a journal, which he then turns into brilliant essays. And there’s nothing like a walk in the city for observing human nature and hearing some interesting conversation. I once heard, “Maria, my bikini days are over!” That line still makes me laugh.
  • Spending time with little kids. They have the most amazing imaginations that they have not yet repressed. I once took a walk with my little one when she was about six, and she merrily told me about all the fairies and their special skills, based on what color they were (green, blue, pink, red, white). I wish I’d had a voice recorder to capture what she said that morning, but it was lost to my poor memory and the pine trees around us. But I can tell you that it was amazing, and a morning I’ll never forget.

I hope these ideas help you with trying to nurture your creative gifts. For more inspiration, please subscribe to All About the Authors and watch our videos on subjects like this, and so much more! We hope to inspire you to succeed and fulfill your dreams to be an author.