on writing my fourth book
Here is what's going on. Here is what's frustrating me. Please understand that this is not a rant or a complaint, but a contentious point of information that I hope will assist others that are either writers, artists, or persons of any background that are lacking motivation at one point or another.
I have written three books, one of which is published (Soul Suites), one is currently being edited (To Behold the Greatest Art), and one I have decided requires a massive overhaul over the next year (Like a Bear in a Zoo). This fourth one, that I am just now beginning to write, is proving a doozy of a novel. The premise is great, the story is powerful, the outline is complete, but it is seriously lacking all the words that would make it a book. So, what's the issue?
Writing, at least for me, requires a certain mood. If I am stressed or angered or exhausted, then my mind will fail to conjure anything worthy of your precious eyes, as my loving audience. The rubbish that pours from my fingers is capable of stinking up an entire room through your computer screen. When I should be fabricating genuine thoughts and original content that can elicit any array of emotions in the reader, emotions that flawlessly flow from fear to surprise to sorrow to laughter (though the laughter is less common), I cannot so much as form an intelligent sentence. This does not happen all the time, but enough to frustrate a typically temperate individual such as myself. So what can be done to alleviate this lack in creative ability?
Well, my eager reader (he says after answering his own question), music and alcohol seems to do the trick. This is not a plug for alcoholism, oh no, just as this is not a plug for any particular form of lubrication (though I prefer whiskey myself). Instead, this is a PSA for all you creative types that find the juices unable to flow, the blood stagnant in your brains, the life draining from your muses, and the walls around you growing ever higher until they are utterly insurmountable and the darkness has taken its toll. Listen here to what I have to say.
Find what it is that fuels your thoughts. There is something out there, a substance or sound or sensation or smell, that can return your thoughts to the task at hand, leaving the brain with endless power to fabricate the greatest, fiercest, strongest concoctions you wouldn't believe could be brought forth from your mind. Well, doesn't that sound like a deal? Doesn't that sound like something you would drop a dime for at some dusty road show in a Western town after an overweight, bearded man with a ticking pocket promised you that this same something could cure your blindness, make you smarter, bring you riches, and give you an extra inch or two? And it's real! It exists! You just have to find what it is!
For me, that it is music and alcohol. Not a lot of alcohol! The more I have, the more incomprehensible my musings become. After a sip or two of whiskey, my mind is capable of relaxing just enough that any stress or angst it previously held is converted into good ol' creativity. Another couple of sips and I am cranking out some truly unique phrases with radical diction that elicits smiles upon my face and concerned interest upon those familiar with me on a personal level. Add another couple sips to my eager body, and suddenly the writing takes on its own character. It starts to move on its own, blazing its own path across the page, leaving me without control and without any desire to garner back control. I let those words meander their way into the depths of my work, showing me where the story should go so that I need only sit back and relax as the fingers iterate thought after thought after thought that doesn't seem to have come from my mind at all, but from a source greater than anything I will ever become.
However, if I add too many sips to this conjecture, oooh no, a very different outcome is unwittingly achieved. My brain reaches a point where it no longer makes sense. It believes that beauty is being created, the next great American classic, when instead I am merely doodling dicks upon a page (I mean that figuratively, though the writing is so juvenile and so crass that it may as well be a cartoonist's depiction of the male genitalia). My point to all this is that one must find a balance. Not only is it important to locate the muse of your choice, but to not overindulge in this fantastical elixir. Only trial and error can tell you what works for your art.
Turn it up!
Ah, music. An art in itself that can inspire other works of equal or greater quality. The mood is set with whatever visions are created through the songs entering your canals, rasping on your eardrums, and then shouting into your brain, "Here I am! Listen to me! And for the love of God, use me to do something with your life!"
Alright, that may have been overly intense and overtly critical. But my message is still communicated. I use music to bring my emotions into order, aligning them with the emotions of the book I am attempting to create. Classical music is perfect for this, since the works are sans words (at times distracting little buggers), and there is such a range of dialects within the classical genre. A loud Toccata and Fugue is great for those climatic, powerful moments when all that is wrong in your character's world seems to grow ever more wrong. It pulls the listener into deeper depths of despair, gripping them by the neck and dragging their emaciated bodies along a charred path of internal ruin where they hold no hope of escaping nor any hope of relief. It is merely darkness that they know.
Conversely, a fanciful Humoresque is prime for those moments of beauty and romance when characters are pure in their ways and loving in their words, imparting the reader with mouthfuls of sugary sweetness that hangs upon the tongue for chapters to come. Oh, how sweet they are.
I choose the music based on the mood of that particular chapter, giving my diction just the right amount of flair in order to convey the feelings of the characters. It works beautifully, but I understand that it works for me.
Along with the moderate consumption of alcohol, choosing the right "soundtrack" for my writing is a trick I have developed over time that is personalized to my needs. Try on these tactics for yourselves, look at your form in the mirror and ensure you are happy with the fit and appearance, and if you are pleased with the outcome, then by all means keep the damn sweater. Use it, cherish it, bring it out whenever it is needed or for those times when things have grown a little too chilly and you just want a small amount of comfort. However, if the sweater does not fit or you find it repulsive, then crumple it up and return it (always with the receipt, don't be a snot). And find whatever works for you. Go ahead. Stake your claim on another set of tactics that are tailored to your desires, and be sure to share them with others.
This blog post has ended on such a kind, high note that I am almost repulsed by my own writing. What have I become? Is this what it's like to write motivational crap or to raise a child to be a good person? What vile thoughts! I reject them outright. There is still time to save this post from the effects of do-goodery and puppy dog eyes and moral lessons taught by colorful puppets.
LSD. Just drop some acid. That will be enough to spice up whatever creative project you have undertaken.