One of the questions that I’m frequently asked as an author is: “Where do you get all of your inspiration from?”
And you know what? Sometimes that is a really difficult question to answer.
Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those people who drives their spouse insane by waking up in the middle of the night with a fantastic idea and having to get their phone open, dazzling screen ablazing, to write it down in ‘Notes’ – only to wake up the next morning to see:
andt he gloves not white but henot care
(An actual transcription from my ‘brilliant 3am ideas’ notes.)
I am also one of those authors who has, at the time of writing:
- a twelve book series plotted out
- a four book series plotted out
- another twelve book series with the first three written
- a five book series plotted out
- and an eight book series with the covers designed, but no plots at all.
And you know what? I still have moments at my keyboard where I have no idea where my characters are going.
It can be frustrating, especially when (as I do), you are an author that works full time at another job. Carving out writing time is a real challenge, and I don’t even have the excuse of having children!
So when it comes to writing, I just want to sit down and go: no distractions, no hesitations.
When that doesn’t happen it can be overwhelmingly frustrating – but I am going to share with you my secret for how I am able to keep going.
Yup, you read that right: tk. The letters ‘t’ and ‘k’ appear together very rarely in the English language, so if you decide to search ‘tk’ in your manuscript then you aren’t going to find many, unless you have a lot of pocketknives in your book.
So whenever I get to a sticking point and I know that it’ll frustrate me and distract me from the narrative, I just stick in tk and then move on.
Can’t think what the name of that piece of Regency clothing is? tk
Need an extra name for a character that is literally only in this scene? tk
Want to check whether that town is a real place, or I need to create one? tk
It may sound weird, but it’s a real simple way for me to keep with the flow of my writing. Then when I come to the end of my creative time, which usually doesn’t reach lunch (I’m definitely a morning bird!), I just stick ‘tk’ into the search, and the places that I need to go back to appear.
I never miss them. My manuscript is always better because of them, because I can then take my time to investigate clothing, find the perfect name, and research eighteenth century geography, without losing precious creating writing time.
So there you have it. YES I have tonnes of ideas. YES I have book ideas coming out of my ears. And YES sometimes my brain grinds to a halt and I have to use clever tricks to keep going.