January 09, 2009

Writing Tip 12: What Inspires you?

For a change of pace, I'm going to open the floor today strictly to other writers to share their thoughts on writing. Some possible questions:

* What makes you write?

* What keeps you writing?

* How do you decide what story to tell?

* Share your best writing memory.

* What was your "other" profession before you turned to writing? Or what is your other job now?

* Advice to young writers. Where did you start?

* What happened when you finally "got" it; what was it that made you think you finally had crossed a plateau in your work?

* What are your writing habits?


  1. What got me started--When I was quite young--pre-school--I learned that somebody made a living writing stories. My mother had always read to me and my grandfather told me instructive stories, like the one about the little squirrel who didn't look both ways before crossing the street, and it was a revelation to know that I could give OTHER people stories, too.

  2. What makes you write? It is what I was meant to do.

    * What keeps you writing? The need to tell stories.

    * How do you decide what story to tell? If an idea intrigues me and I find myself lost in the research of that idea, I know I need to write it.

    * Share your best writing memory. My best writing memory is the call I received from current editor. She had read, of all things, a short story I wrote, and said "I want more." That was the beginning of an enduring and understanding relationship. She "gets" me and if a writer finds that, it's like gold.

    * What was your "other" profession before you turned to writing? Or what is your other job now? My other profession was nursing, which I practiced for 35 years. Now I write full time.

    * Advice to young writers. Where did you start? By learning the craft and finding good critical readers who will tell you the truth.

    * What happened when you finally "got" it; what was it that made you think you finally had crossed a plateau in your work? I went to a 4 day workshop given by Elizabeth George. On the final day, she had all of read aloud the scene we had been working on during the entire workshop. Her words to me? "You're ready. Go out and get published."

    * What are your writing habits? Morning writing. Always thinking and researching.

    Leann Sweeney
    Yellow Rose Mysteries
    Cats in Trouble Mysteries 5/2009

  3. I like the questions. They're interesting and thought provoking.

  4. My other life is in science. But fiction and science are not so different. In both cases we're making things up to send a message or to solve a problem. I think I was hooked on writing when I realized there is a logic to telling stories -- sure, it's "creative," but unless it's formed well, like science, it doesn't grab anyone.

  5. I write because I have stories in my head that are banging against my skull trying to come out. What keeps me writing are my publishing successes and encouragement from my critique group and other fellow writers. I was a software engineer before I started writing fiction (seriously!). And, I'm trying to set aside 2 hours every morning to write.

  6. Other profession? I was a journalist before I decided to become a mystery novelist. Being a reporter involves writing, of course, but not fiction-writing (at least it's not SUPPOSED to!)

    Inspiration? I was following the advice I now give to new writers and looking through a newspaper for story ideas, something that would get the creative, make-it-up juices flowing, when I saw an ad of an older woman driving a turquoise convertible. She looked like she was having a ball. I said to myself, "THAT woman is Mama, and I want to write her story.''
    That picture was the inspiration for the first short story I ever wrote (''Mama's Turquoise Convertible.'' Clever, no?), which then became my first novel: ''Mama Does Time,'' which then became a series for Midnight Ink books.
    Best advice: Hang in there.
    Deborah Sharp
    Author, the Mace Bauer Mystery series.

  7. My best writing memory is of the day I received a publishing contract in the mail!

    Jane Kennedy Sutton

  8. That's what's fun, hearing everyone else's experiences. It's inspiring, too.

    Jane- I agree. Getting that contract is definitely a good memory!

  9. Great questions! I'll answer a few.

    * What makes you write? (operative word here is *makes*):
    The stories, the deadlines, the addictive "zone" (where one falls into writing and all else disappears)

    * What keeps you writing?
    The characters, the deadlines (!!), the community of writers I've come to know. On a daily basis, I'd say caffeine and chocolate play a major roll.

    * What was your "other" profession before you turned to writing? Or what is your other job now?
    I a writer/editor in my "day job" (which has also become my night job, my weekend job, etc.). As a consultant, writer-for-hire (I think of this as the old gun-for-hire thing... only I work with words), I focus primarily on science and technology, but have been know to tackle corporate communications projects such as employee handbooks, website content, enterprise wiki stuff (just learning about all that now).

    * Advice to young writers. Where did you start?


  10. Ths isn't my earliest writing memory, but one that is significant to me:
    I remember the day JFK died because I was in elementary school and we were all summoned to the cafeteria where TVs were on & the teachers were crying. Once we were told and dismissed, I walked home, climbed into my favorite tree and wrote "Blue Moon Fairy" stories. That day is always associated with writing, for me.

  11. What were we "before" we were writers? I spent so much time in my grandfather's bookstore that books seemed to be my siblings!
    But after majoring in creative writing I went to law school and focused on social justice issues. I feel I bring this to my writing. Great questions! Lucia

  12. Interesting comment from Helen. My first attempt at writing was also associated with JFK's assassination. Our youth group leader encouraged me to write a story for a Reader's Digest contest. My story was centered around JFK's death and my perception of eternity. I didn't win the contest, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

  13. This is a great idea!

    My best advice, by the way, is to just keep writing. Too often we start worrying -- about editors, about publication, about whether or not or stuff is any good. And you know what? We don't get any writing done. If you can turn off those censors and just get some words on the page every day, the rest will take care of itself.

    Best of luck!

  14. My start at writing happened back in 1945 during the last year of World War II. I was chatting with a fellow Aviation Cadet who had spent a year at Yale before entering the Army. He said if he had it to do over, he would study journalism. Somehow that clicked in my brain, I went to journalism school, and I've been writing ever since.

    My advice to young authors is read, read, read...write, write, write. And never give up.



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