The Spark Of Inspiration - How to plan to keep your book alive until it's done
Every book begins its life with a brilliant, unexpected spark of inspiration.
Most books' lives end when that initial spark fades without ever catching fire. We've experienced this.
That first spark is pure magic. It's a feeling that we as writers love more than anything. You wake up in the middle of the night with an idea that's so brilliant you have to get up and write it down RIGHT NOW for fear that it may fade away before you can grasp it. Or an irresistible character pops into your head as you're doing the dishes. Or a striking image suddenly grips you when you're out shopping and you think "Oh my God, that would make a great ending!". These are the kind of sparks that, with care, can be fanned into the month-long burning passion that is necessary to write a book.
We all know that writing a book is a marathon. We’ve heard it a million times. Everyone who's written anything says so, and we believe them. But we all, when that first inspiration grips us, can't help but sprint the first mile. And that's great because we can see that energy right there on our first pages.
But then what?
How do we learn to go the distance?
After we've raced through our first chapters in less than a week and it's the best we've ever written and if only the rest of the book could be as great... then the lack of sleep sets in. A little bit of fatigue. Distractions creep in. Life gets in the way. How quickly the rush turns into a slog, every page turns into a struggle. Over months we try to hang on to that initial burst of energy and struggle to rekindle it. We need to remind ourselves all the time why we fell in love with our idea in the first place. And sometimes we can’t. And that sucks. That shouldn't be that way.
And that's why you need a plan. (And yes, we may be biased because it just so happens we've built an app that helps you with that.)
Great authors plan their books. They know what needs to happen to drive the story before they ever set pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). It's hard work and it's the part of writing we rarely see. The walls filled with post-its, pins and bits of string tying everything together. The desks covered in newspaper clippings. The stacks of books full of style references and research. The waste baskets overflowing with crumpled notes. And when it's done right and these authors finally start writing their books, you know what they've got?
They've got confidence.
They know what they're doing. They know where they're headed. That's the difference.
And you know what else they've got? Kindling for that spark, ready to catch fire.
A plan about making sure your story hangs together, sure. It's about having a framework to hang all your beautiful details on, page by page by page. But that's not the most common problem in finishing a book. The problem is keeping yourself excited about it. And it's about allowing yourself to be inspired all the way through without changing your book all the time. A good plan provides a framework for you to hang all your new inspiration on as you go, and it holds everything together the way you meant it to hold together from the start.
A good plan keeps you seeing the big picture at all times so that when you get inspired again you can add a new spark to your book - in a way that fits. It's a way to control the fire, give it space to breathe without letting it run out of control.
Making a plan sounds boring? It's not. It's the most fun part of writing. You're building whole worlds in seconds, creating living, breathing characters in the blink of an eye. You can change anything you want without having to worry about throwing away months of writing. You can literally do ANYTHING YOU WANT. You can't even make mistakes. Nothing is too crazy when you're planning, when you're exploring your own creativity. So do that. Plan your book! Finish your book! And stay inspired!
And write better books.