I’ve learned in my time as a writer that refilling that ‘inspiration’ tank, that mysterious cauldron in your head, is one of the most important things you can do. Sometimes it’s brimming overfull for months at a time and it’s no problem to riffle through all those story and character ideas, those grand schemes, plot devices, and sparkling worlds.
(Why is it called a cauldron? It’s fun to call it that. Maybe yours is a glass goblet. Maybe it’s a pirate chest. Maybe it’s a Vietnam-era helmet. Whatever yours is, I like to call mine a cauldron. And you can decide whether that’s a reference to Hamlet or to Harry Potter, or both)
For me, my brain is filled nowadays with more than it used to be, and my inspiration cauldron is not overflowing by any means. I thought, as a 12-year-old 7th grader, that hey, everything was hard and it was hard to find time to write and sacrifices, you know?
Ha. Now, I’m 25, and my free time isn’t spent studying about ancient civilizations and staring hopelessly at rudimentary geometry. Now, I get up every day and go to work, serving and cooking and cleaning. Memorizing batches of names and ignoring weariness and my aching feet. I don’t work 9-5, I don’t have a desk job, I can’t have a writing schedule (a schedule is really great to get your inspiration cauldron sorted). Some days I work 8-8 straight with a few breaks for eating and maybe to remember I have a load of laundry sitting in the washer. Some days I work all day at emptying my work inbox and trying to learn about online marketing. There’s a lot of uncertainty. And if I have free time now, I clean my house, do my husband’s and my laundry, and if I’m very lucky, try to make a batch of macarons.
I should take this moment to say that I love what I do. I love where I live, I love that my husband and I and my in-laws (who are some of my best friends) work together, and I love the satisfaction of seeing other people fall in love with the ranch too.
But I, by no means, always manage to write. In the summer, I don’t write much at all. Being an adult is not what I thought it would be-and most of all, I never thought I’d look into my inspiration cauldron and find it empty.
In my youth, I had book idea after book idea, and I never thought I would run out. But for the past few years, I’ve been running on almost empty. I had a couple ideas I’d run into the ground with too many plot holes. But I couldn’t move on to a new and better idea because there weren’t any.
Why do inspiration cauldrons run dry? I was reading (a little), listening (some) to audiobooks, had found some new TV shows that I loved, had a great support team ready to work through my writing problems– and yet my cauldron remained mostly dry. Until recently.
Here’s what I think it was:
As a kid who wrote, I had a lot of extra time to think about new stories and old stories and ‘what ifs’. I had a lot of time on my hands. Now, I’m pretty lucky if I have any energy left after work to scroll mindlessly through Pinterest. I don’t think about those ‘what ifs’ (What if there was a civilization that eradicated emotion? What if there was a story where people stopped being able to sleep? What if?) I don’t have time. I don’t have the energy. I don’t make time. I can’t.
I can’t even find time to blog regularly. I write as many blog posts on my off days and schedule them months and years ahead of time so you don’t get bored.
I’ve been focusing on other things (getting married, going into the winter season here at the ranch, how to be the best wife ever, you know-stuff) and I had shut out my stories. I had turned off that part of my brain that has always wondered ‘what if’. And without the ‘what-ifs’, stories die.
But I was able to switch it back on- with a more responsible mindset than I used to have.
With a little more organization (thanks to my new Passion Planner), I think I can focus on reading a little more, Pinteresting a little more, listening to a little more Writing Excuses, and thinking about those ‘what-ifs’. I don’t expect that my struggling will magically end here, but I’m going to try harder to hold on to this hobby that has shaped the person I am.
How do you find time to write? Have you been able to transition from a child-writer to an adult-author? Have any tips and tricks?