I was stumped for something to write this month. I skimmed my computer for inspiration. I stumbled upon the blog tour for my first published book. I forgot about this tour. Side note, next December will mark ten years of indie publishing for me.
I found an interesting blog post I wanted to share.
How To Create an Inspiring Work Area…this is something I’ve been dealing with for a quite a while. I have attempted to set up my work area and each time I start, I get distracted. It’s not like I have a huge space. I converted a nook in my house. But there are few things I consider necessities to creating an inspiring space.
Here’s my list of Inspiring Work Space Necessities:
A good scented candle – Surround yourself in a nice calm, relaxing scent. It will clear your mind and free up the path for ideas.
Non-traditional office or desk accessories – use old candle holders for pens, paper and binder clips and rubber bands. Cover cardboard boxes in luxe wallpaper. Use small gift boxes for post it notes and scratch paper.
Colorful notebooks and binders – I buy generic notebooks and binders and then cover them in luxe wrapping paper or fabric swatches. I want everything to be coordinated and pretty.
Encouraging Quotes and Verses – Simply print out quotes or verses that are motivational to you and post them to the wall next to your computer. This way, when you feel a little overwhelmed, you can repeat your motivating words.
Water bottle or glass – This is crucial. I’m guilty of not drinking enough water. In an attempt to drink more, I bought a cool “BKr” water bottle. It’s glass and comes with a colorful rubber sleeve. Mine is the pink 16oz size. I keep it next to my computer. Sometimes, I’ll set the timer for every hour, reminding me to drink. You can do the same thing with a pretty glass.
Fancy coffee or tea cup – Like most writers, I start my day with coffee or tea. Whatever your preference, treat yourself to a fancy cup and saucer and place it on your desk. Drinking out of a fancy cup and saucer, makes reading your email a lot less painful. Not to mention, a great cup of coffee or tea is good for clearing out the mind clutter.
Music, Music, Music – I make playlists for my books. When I’m stuck, I head over to iTunes and hit a one of my playlists or I search for new artists that inspire or relax me.
Flowers – I have yet to incorporate this, but it’s on my list for this year. I want to pretty up my desk to the next level with my favorite fresh flowers.
In my new work space, I have a small bookcase with copies of my books, a few business books, fun accessories and a vintage desk chair. To make the space more relaxing to the eye, I covered the wall in black and white stripe wallpaper. I still need an over head.
I think once I get my work space completely decorated, I’ll be even more productive.
Where do inspirations come from?
With me, it can be anywhere!
For example, my Alaska Untamed mystery series for Crooked Lane Books was inspired by my most recent Alaskan cruise. I’d gone on several before, but happened to be on one just before the COVID pandemic started and went on a boat tour in the waters near Juneau while we were docked there. The guides pointed out a lot of wildlife as we passed by—and I was enchanted. And inspired. My books’ protagonist is a wildlife expert who gives tours in Alaska! My first Alaska Untamed mystery BEAR WITNESS came out last year, and the next, CRY WOLF, will be published later this year.
Why am I writing about this inspiration now? Well, I just went on a short trip to Mexico that inspired me to start researching some ideas related to our travels and where we stayed. Will a book, or series, result? Yet to be seen. But it’s certainly possible!
My most numerous and obvious inspirations are dogs. I love them. I love writing about them. That’s why nearly all of my stories involve dogs. That includes my most recently published book: UNDERCOVER COWBOY DEFENDER, a March Harlequin Romantic Suspense release.
So what inspires you to write or read?
I’m writing. I’m always writing, and I’m committed to write several more books that I’m working on, both mystery and romantic suspense, which is a good thing.
Even so, my mind is always churning around new ideas. Yours too? If you’re an author, that’s undoubtedly the case.
So what are some of my oddest inspirations these days? Well, for one thing, someone was attacked on my very nice residential street recently. I learned a little of what it was about, thanks to neighbors and others, and looked it up on the internet. The information wasn’t complete, but it did get my mind considering what I could do to fix that in a fictional story. But not yet.
Then there’s a neighbor who has an affiliation with the Ukraine. No, though I feel highly sympathetic and concerned about the Ukranian people, I don’t think I want to write about that. But still—I’m a writer, so my mind churns about that too.
I’ve already mentioned how I’ve wondered about writing something including the pandemic—or not. Yes, in a way that could also be an inspiration.
Inspirations that are fun instead? Well, we’re awaiting a new puppy to be a companion to our dog Cari. We lost her former companion Mystie last year. Not sure how Cari will feel about not being an only dog again when the time comes—and my mind churns about writing something in anticipation.
Then there was the fact that we were babysitting our grandsons recently in Indiana, in the snow—leaving warm California behind. Delightful to be with them, and even dealing with the snow. Is there a story in that?
How about you? What in your life or neighborhood inspires you to write? Anything? Everything?
Linda O. Johnston
We are fresh off Valentines Day, so I thought I’d share a little love story.
In November ,2021 we traveled to Albania – a country we fell in love with ten years ago and where our youngest son now lives – and to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Our son arranged the party and the details were kept secret. On the day of the party we were picked up by a driver who didn’t speak English, could barely understand my few words of Albanian, and seemed confused as to his destination. Finally, the car turned up a dark and winding road and delivered us to our party destination—an ancient castle.
People we didn’t know greeted us like old friends; those who didn’t speak English blessed us in their language. We danced for five hours to Turkish and Albanian music with a little Roy Orbison and The Doors thrown in for good measure.
That night was joyous, exciting, and exactly the kind of adventure my husband and I love. But it wasn’t until I was back home and writing again, that I understood what made the trip so magical. It was like a good book long in the making. My husband and I had 45 years of a backstory, so our sons had a lot of information to draw on. They intimately understood our individual characters and loved us quirks and all. They also had an appreciation for drama, and pitch perfect pacing. Together they crafted the perfect narrative with a very happy ending.
I’m going to remember that night forever. I will also remember the lessons I learned because of it. If I love my characters, so will my readers; if I’m excited by the adventure, the reader will be too. I’m not sure if my books are as perfect as our anniversary adventure, but the fun is in trying to make them so.
Stay tuned for the sequel, watch out for the next book. Meanwhile, happy belated Valentines Day. Here’s to the next chapters of all of our love (and life)stories.
I went through a bad burnout period a couple years ago that took me nearly two years to recover from, so I got used to treating myself very gently during my recovery. I tried to give myself the compassion I would give my best friend. In fact, even the compassion I would give a stranger would be better than how I had gotten used to treating myself!
So I was surprised to find myself hearing over and over this idea of — am I truly giving this writing life my all?
It’s a growth mindset and I’ve been feeling myself itching to move from a stable recovery back into growth again. That’s probably why I kept noticing — but quite possibly it was also a matter of hearing what I need when I’m ready. I think God was pushing me to consider some areas of my writing life anew.
I “accidentally” had a Disney movie with Mark Wahlberg on in the background while I was working last week — “Invincible” about a professional football player who was a bartender and former teacher the week before. He was waiting to find out he was cut from the try-outs, but he didn’t get cut. However, the coach yelled at him during the first game that he needed to start giving 100% or he was out.
That was such an inspirational movie that I turned on “Miracle,” which I had already seen a couple times (meaning: so I could work and ignore it, use it as background noise), about the US Olympic hockey team that beat Russia back before they started using professional players. Again, the coach was incredibly tough on those college students, pushing them to give 100% or get out.
Trying again to turn on something I could ignore, I put on “The Blind Side.” Again, I’d seen it several times, didn’t have to get caught up in the story, and I genuinely dislike American football so…ignore, right? But these stories aren’t about sports so much as they’re about the underdog doing more than they think they can.
Fully inspired now, I turned on “The Rookie” today and specifically looked for the most inspiring parts because…the movies weren’t the only things reaching out for my attention.
We’re having a prayer and fasting week at church so I’ve been praying specifically over my writing business. The Bible verse in my Bible app was about — “are you trying hard enough?” The devotional there led me to a book about creativity (The Last Arrow by Erwin Raphael McManus), and the excerpt on Amazon ended with the author asking himself if he was trying enough, praying enough, expecting enough.
Then, because apparently God wanted to be very clear that He’s talking to me and didn’t want me to think some of these things were coincidences, I opened up a devotional book (My Utmost For His Highest) I hadn’t read in a couple years and turned to today, February 9. At this point, I can’t say I was shocked to discover it was asking, “have you given all you have?” And it reminded me to stay aware of my “why” — why am I doing what I’m doing? Because that’s what will keep me going.
By the time I’d had all of these things filling my brain, I was full of questions. Am I giving all I have? Am I giving 100%?
And you know what I decided my answer was? No.
Even though I’ve been working 6 days a week, and 3 nights, too, every week for months to build my writing and coaching business, I’d say I’m giving about 98%. Like Vince, the teacher-turned-bartender-turned-professional-football-player in “Invincible,” there is a small part of my mind that isn’t sure I can do this and is ready to lead the way out when I fail. (Vince was sitting on his bed with his duffle packed waiting for the knock telling him to go home, he was cut.)
Like Vince, it’s easier to say, “Look how far I’ve come, I should be proud of my accomplishments,” and have my duffle bag packed and ready for when someone points out that I’ve failed to build this business but boy, you sure tried hard.
But like the coaches in those movies, and the writer of the Bible verse, and the writer of the devotional — someone is pushing me to just believe and give that last 2%. Because it will change everything!
I was an A student in school. While I tried to get 100% on tests just for the fun of it (and for my pride), I was happy to get a 90 or 95 or whatever other number gave me the highest grade. Sadly, being an A student doesn’t prepare you as well as being a C student. I didn’t learn to work for it; I learned that 98% is generally more than enough.
But 98% is not enough in professional sports.
And apparently Someone is trying to show me that 98% is not going to be enough to achieve what I very much want to achieve.
I genuinely and passionately want to write books that change people and change the world, and I absolutely want to help others finish and publish books that do the same.
But it’s going to take 100% of me to do that.
What are you thinking about right now? What do you need to give 100% to?
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