Saturday, May 03, 2014

Inspiration with Lynne Marshall

The Pink Heart Society is happy to welcome Harlequin Medical Romance author Lynne Marshall. Take it away, Lynne!

Don’t Wait Around for Inspiration 

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

I’ll tell you what really gets my juices flowing – travel, good books and movies, music, and everyday life (which includes eating and sleeping). That about covers it, doesn’t it?  I’m easily inspired, but that isn’t necessarily translated to the page.  Each day is overflowing with beauty and sensations, and all it takes is a flick of my eye or a turn of my ear to discover something new. We may assume that routine is the killer of magic, but it is also necessary. And fruitful. While plodding through the business of daily living, all kinds of surprises crop up.  Like with miracles, we have to train ourselves to notice.
And speaking of our brains, they crave challenges.  “What if” is a favorite question for writers.  I’d love to see a brain scan light up after that one simple exercise.  Oh, and here’s a fascinating tidbit about the importance of fiction and reading.

I don’t recommend sitting around and waiting for inspiration to strike before going to the computer and putting in your daily words.  Here are a couple of quotes to explain why.
Inspiration is a selfish fleeting lover that only shows up in the mood.  Who needs selfish lovers?  Lynne Marshall
Don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work ~Pearl S. Buck
Forgive my audacity to include myself with a quote from the incredible author, Pearl S. Buck, but we were talking about the same thing.  Writing is work, and if you’re a published author it is also a business.  The world would stop if everyone waited for inspiration to do things.  Inspiration is a form of fantastical thinking.  It is something that young minds thrive on, but as we mature we discover that part about putting bread on the table and a roof over our head.  So we must write, and we can’t wait for inspiration to do it.

What about the times we feel blocked?  I refer to the Socrates quote at the top of this blog.  I suggest that writing block isn’t real, but the state of feeling blocked does require examination.  When I feel resistance to moving ahead with one of my stories, I’ve learned over the course of writing twenty or so books that something has been left undone in the prior scene.  My brain instinctively knows it and flags it by holding me back.  Until I’ve examined the chapter or scene, then stimulate my creativity by moving around (I like to walk, do aerobics and yoga) I can’t go forward.  Sometimes this takes more than a day to accomplish. I don’t freak out.  I know it is my process.

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block. ~ John Rogers

When I travel or see a great movie or read a wonderful book or hear a gorgeous piece of music I am immediately inspired.  But it rarely translates to words on the page.  Sure it increases my endorphins and makes me feel fantastic at the moment, but that feeling fades, often long before I can get to my computer.  Again, our incredible brains file these feelings away and when we do our hard work of writing, we are often surprised by the gift of those memories.
By all means, store up memories in your brain doing inspirational things, but do the work of writing to unleash those magical moments when you slip into the zone and become your story, only to look up hours later having written pages and pages.  Getting in the zone doesn’t happen often for me, but often enough to get books written.
In the end, there is nothing worse than thinking up a great story but never putting it on paper.  To refer to the famous Descartes quote – I think therefore I am.  A book cannot exist in a brain, it cannot only be “thought” but must be written to exist.  And there is nothing sadder than a book that doesn’t exist.

So go forth and WRITE! And whatever you do, don’t wait for inspiration to strike. You can quote me on that.

Lynne Marshall writes Medical Romance for Mills & Boon, and contemporary romance for Harlequin Special Edition. She is a Southern California native, has been married for a long time, and has two adult children whom she is super proud of, is a new grandmother, a dog lover, a cat admirer, a wandering walker, a curious traveler, and fellow participant on this wild journey called life.

Out Now!
American Surgeon in London – Book #4 200 Harley Street
Plastic surgeon Mitchell Cooper used to have it all.
But when his world collapsed, he and his little daughter Mia moved to London to rebuild their lives – and Mitchell sealed off his damaged heart. Yet after one star-studded night with fellow surgeon Grace Turner, Mitchell finds himself daring to live again! Only Grace is hiding painful secrets of her own…


  1. Yes, sometimes you have to track inspiration down and tie that b*tch to the chair. Especially if you write BDSM.

    OTOH, I would add the caveat that if writing is not (yet) your day job, there will be times you can't give it the time and attention it deserves.

    Lynn, congrats on the grandbaby!

  2. Good point, Beverly. But if you wait for inspiration in the time you have, it may not come and nothing will ever get written.

    Thanks on the grandbaby wishes. I am LOVING it.

  3. I've also found that writer's block is usually a sign I've taken a wrong turn. This latest bout has been the longest I've ever endured. I keep hitting the wall, backing up and trying again, only to hit the wall again. This book will be the death of me. LOL

  4. Hi Kate - Oh, no on the "death of you" block. It is a tough process to bash our heads against a wall only to take another tack and wind up back bashing our head. I know you and your marvelous CP will work this out. Sending good vibes you'll figure out that wrong turn and be back on track ASAP.

  5. I totally agree, Lynne. You gotta sit down and write. I'm finally not waiting for the day job to give me open space - I'm actually demanding time at night. Okay, sometimes its LATE at night...but I'm getting more done now every day than I have in a loooong time. First drafts just need to get written. Rewrites are almost easier, I think - but that first draft can be like pulling teeth! GREAT post - thank you so much!

    1. Hi Christine - I am always impressed how consistently you write, and how you keep yourself accountable by going public on Facebook about it. I am rooting for you all the way!

  6. Hi Lynne- sometimes I find my inspiration in the shower. I know, enough said there, but there's something liberating about it and when I get on a roll, I lose track of time and waste a whole lot of water!

    1. Hi Charlene - anything that stimulates blood flow stimulates the mind. So the shower makes sense. However, you live in California which is in a bad drought, so you can't drain that shower! LOL. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. Lynne, I loved your post, and, hope you don't think I'm sucking up, but I liked your quote best of all. The kind of inspiration that storms into your life, sweeps you up into its strong arms and cradles you there in a semi-conscious, sleep-deprived haze while you, the lowly vessel, pound out 10,000 word days, is really part vampire. You skip family events because you're too enthralled by your unhealthy muse to tear yourself away from your latest passion to do the fundamental things with the people who love you in real life...and rely on you! It occurred to me that I don't live a life conducive to that kind of inspiration. My inspiration comes from spending weeks thinking about a story, a few more weeks mapping it out into an outline/synopsis, and then (honestly) 8 - 12 weeks to write the thing out in 500 words/per/day to 2000 words/per/day increments until I hit about 60,000. At that point, anyone would tell you that's not inspiration, that's goal setting and planning and discipline...which sounds a hell of a lot less dramatic and sexy than inspiration. But, for me, for now, that's just how it has to be. The trade-off is snugged up next to me in bed, after spending the evening playing with Mommy.

    1. Sam - I'm so glad you get it, and love how you described it. Your payoff is worth far more than gold - because golden moments with your son like that cannot be replaced by mega word days.
      I'm also chuffed that you liked my quote - it came to me while I wrote this blog, in one of those (no not inspirational) "I promised to write a blog for The Pink Heart Society. I need to do it!" moments. :)