Road Trip Wednesday: Images and Imagination

Road Trip Wednesday is a “Blog Carnival,” where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs.

This Week’s Topic:

What images inspire/ represent your WIP or favorite book?

Several months ago, my hubs wanted me to play Machinarium, a new game he discovered on iPad2. At first, I wasn’t interested, knowing how addictive game playing would be for me, and I needed to work on my then-rough-draft of WIP2. But then, he opened up the game, and promptly sat the iPad2 on my lap. This was the image that greeted me:


It reminded me of the landscape that I saw in my mind’s eye of WIP2’s opening scene, that I was compelled to play the game. (Plus, the robot character is really cute. I talk more about the game HERE.)

The above image was the first ever visual representation I had for my WIP. I mean, I became thoroughly addicted to Pinterest well before Machinarium, but the images on my board capture more of the mood or science-y aspects of WIP2, but nothing as close to capturing an actual setting that had only lived in my mind as Machinarium’s Junkyard scene.

Over time, I eventually stumbled upon this picture:


It’s like a world within a world, right? It also captures the scenes leading up to The End of my story.

Cool, huh? So, now you can kinda see what the beginning and end(ish) images are for WIP2. For more images that capture the mood of WIP2, visit my pinterest board HERE.

So how about you? What images inspire/represent your WIP or favorite book?

Far From a Finished Draft


“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.” Confucius.

So, I put myself on a blogging hiatus simply because I wanted to focus on finishing this draft of WIP2. At this point, I’m still far from The End, but I’m getting ever nearer.

I probably would have been closer to the finish (in fact, I was hoping this would have been a “Yes, I wrote The End!” blog post, but whatever), had I not burnt out sometime between last Monday and this past Tuesday. Sure, being mentally exhausted from the paythebills job didn’t really help me. (I needed to be a little more extrovert-y these past two weeks in my paythebills job, which already strains the limit of my introverted nature.) But, I honestly think I simply got hit with another stupid “fear of some kind of failure” panic attack.

I started to think too much about the story I’ve written so far; obsess too much about the work I’ll have to do to revise it; cringe about all the horrible writing that I’m going to be subjecting my poor crit partners to. So, that mindset just made me shut down and not have anything to write about whenever I sat down to write anything. I even started to entertain the thoughts of working on one of my many other WIP ideas rather than finishing WIP2.

But then…I decided to just plow through the actual storyline, even if that meant writing huge swaths of nothing but chapter summaries. At the very least, I was hoping to see images of scenes again, something, anything, to remind me why I loved this story. I plodded along and added a few pages here and there, but nothing amazing, and surely nothing I’d be proud to put my name on.

Sometime around 3AM this morning, I read a little blog post that Merrilee Faber shared. It’s from Janice Hardy’s blog: The Other Side of the Story. The blog talks about revisions, mainly, but what I liked most about the post were passages like this…

I knew when I wrote this draft that it was a bit “all over the place” because it was wrapping up the trilogy and I wasn’t sure how some things were going to pan out. I needed to write it and see what happened, and then needed to hear what folks said about it before I went back and revised.

…and this…

I cut 10K words (four entire chapters) without batting an eye because I didn’t need them anymore. They did their job to get me mentally where I needed to be, but they hurt the story to leave them in.

I know it’s a little thing, but finding someone who had to write in weird, meandering ways just to get to the place where they mentally needed to be to get through the story was encouraging to me. (Also, that she sent it out like that to gain feedback from her critters before revising it herself.) It immediately made me want to open my WIP2 and add a few more words. (At that point it was nearly 5AM, so I didn’t add too many pages, but I added a few, and that was all that mattered to me.)

I wish I could say that I did indeed find those tricksy muses and voila, I’m hot on their heels racing toward The End. I clearly didn’t, and I’m still plodding. But, I’m here and writing out all the stuff that’s lodged in my mind, and not paying attention to that little internal editor that’s telling me that whatever I’m writing is wrong/useless/unnecessary/doesn’t align with the MC’s characterization or voice.

I’m writing, and as rambly and pointless as those words are, they are getting me closer to The End (much closer than I would be if I waited for perfection.)

Writing is a Sanctioned Form of Insanity. Embrace It.

Writing is an exercise in insanity. Day after day, I bang away at the keyboard hoping for brilliance, and getting mostly word vomit.

But, I keep writing anyway.


…I know that I probably have to throw down ten words, sentences, scenes, to get to the one worth keeping.

…I know that after the vomit leaves my brain, I won’t be distracted by it (even if more vomit threatens to fill the void that the previous vomit left behind).

…I know that each word, sentence, scene added to the WIP gets me closer to a finished story.

And, I know that sometimes, if I’m very, very lucky, I will write a scene that surprises me, one that just makes sense, and opens to many more possibilities and choices for the character.

The moral of the story? Embrace the insanity of this process. The muses may be fickle and capricious. But they can’t resist a working artist. Especially an insanely focused one.

Image: By Feuillu

Creative Limitation

Cover of "Story: Substance, Structure, St...

Cover via Amazon

{So, I decided to start yet another series of posts for the best reasons of all: because this is my blog, and because I can. It’s simply titled, The Magic of Writing—that indefinable, ineffable relationship between the writer and the muse.}

Over the weekend, I glutted myself on books on story craft and architecture as part of my ROW 80 goals. The book that I just finished yesterday was Robert McKee’s Story. I’ve read through that book last year, but it didn’t really speak to me then as it did now. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that book was genius last year, but I hadn’t finished my first WIP yet, and so I didn’t grasp the full significance of the principles then as I did now.

My main A-HA moment came from the principle of Creative Limitation. I’d been floundering for a while in my WIP2, not really knowing where I should go, and I’ve simply discovered that I didn’t know WIP2’s world enough. And, since I didn’t know the world (which is the first step toward a well-told story), I didn’t have internal laws of probability that my characters would follow (read: no conflict, stakes, or reason to read the story).

That may seem like a little thing, but once I started sketching out my world, possibilities, decisions, events started floating up in my mind’s eye. McKee wrote: “Talent is like a muscle: without something to push against, it atrophies. So, we deliberately put rocks in our path, barriers that inspire. We discipline ourselves as to what to do, while we’re boundless as to how to do it.” (We were all teenagers once. The more rules set before us, the more creative we were at bending (but not quite breaking!) them.)

So, you see, creating a world with a set of rules has allowed me to create a list of possible scenes and events that may happen (FYI, list is still growing). Finding the boundaries didn’t kill my imagination, it awakened it. Sure, I like the idea that On The Spot Inspiration can take me through a story, but if I’m honest with myself, I realize that ideas taken from the top of my head are probably regurgitated stories of what I’d seen or read recently, and will come off as cliched or unoriginal.

Really delving into the world, and finding scenes from my brainstorms that are truest to my characters, to their world, and which have never been done quite in the same way, are the scenes that I want to write into my novel.

What has inspired your imagination lately?

A Picture’s Meaning

{So, I decided to start yet another series of posts for the best reasons of all: because this is my blog, and because I can. It’s simply titled, The Magic of Writing—that indefinable, ineffable relationship between the writer and the muse.}

A picture’s meaning can express ten thousand words.

So, thanks to Rebecca Enzor (and indirectly, Amber West), I became thoroughly addicted to Pinterest this weekend. I loved creating my pretty vision boards, hunting down beautiful images to “pin” to them. I’ve always wanted to create huge vision boards for my novels, and with Pinterest, I created one for each of my works in progress in a matter of hours.

The best part? Finding an image that resonated with a specific WIP so well, that new scenes and subplots emerged from seeing them. I also love that certain images captured a mood that I’ve tried to convey in the past, but couldn’t really grasp, and I’d end up losing that mood or forgetting what it was that I’d wanted to say. Now, I can just click on one of my boards, and relive the moment until I have the right words to express whatever scene I want to write.

(Sidenote: I love all my WIP boards, but the one that’s most precious to me is simply labeled “First,” with images that remind me of my first novel. It gives me hope that one day I’ll have the skill to execute WIP1.)

There are so many uses for Pinterest, and honestly, I have to be careful to remember that it’s a tool to support my writing, and shouldn’t take the place of my novel writing. (SO ADDICTIVE. Srsly.) But, I so enjoy being able to experience my works in progress in this way and keep my muses inspired to continue working (and by working, I mean playing ^_^).

Are you visual like me? Do you have other methods to keep your muses inspired?

(*If you want to see my vision board for my current work in progress, CLICK HERE.) 🙂