Thoughts About the Writing Process & Inspiration


Part of why I wanted to start blogging again is because I enjoy writing about the writing process. Some writers prefer to keep their writing life private, but I find that writing about writing and talking about writing is energizing.

I’m going to write about what inspires me, and sets the tone for my writing my novel.

As I work on my novel, which is set in Minneapolis and northern Minnesota, I find myself drawn to Aimee Mann’s music. I’ve been listening to Mann nonstop, whether I’m at work, in the car, on the bus, or writing in a coffeeshop. Mental Illness, Bachelor #2, and Lost in Space are on heavy rotation. The wry melancholy of Mann’s music creates the perfect headspace to write a feminist mystery novel. One of the main themes in Mann’s music is the failure to connect with each other, hiding our true selves, and missed opportunities.

I love this album. The first time I listened to it was on the Greyhound in the early 00s. Image: Wikimedia

There are two Aimee Mann songs that are so important to me as I write my novel that I’m thinking about using sections of them as epigraphs: “Just Like Anyone,” and “Patient Zero.” At the very least, they inspire me every time I work on my novel.

I’m also listening to Lana del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful,” and “Gods and Monsters,” along with whatever is in my music library. Sometimes I become so involved in whatever I’m doing, I don’t even realize what I’m listening to.

For me, writing goes beyond the actual time I sit down and compose on my laptop. If I’m working on a project, I find that I work through plot issues and other writing concerns when I run, swim, ride the bus, hike, and do mundane everyday activities. I have a small notebook I take notes in, although I find myself using the notes app on my phone more and more often.

Hiking clears my mind and helps me think through my novel.

I don’t often have time to sit down and write for long stretches at a time, so I find the note-taking helpful. I also have an outline and repository for snippets of ideas, themes, character descriptions, etc. If I don’t have a block of time to write, I can often squeeze in some note-taking or outlining, which sets me up to dive in when I actually do have time to devote to my novel. At this point in my life, when I do get the time to work on my novel for an hour or more, uninterrupted, it feels like a gift. It makes me appreciate that time so much.

When I was writing Purge: Rehab Diaries, I used to drive around the Twin Cities listening to mix CDs that included anything from Lilith Fair to whatever was popular when I was in treatment. It was 2004, so think Christina Aguilera, Outkast, Five for Fighting, and Maroon 5. Songs by those artists were the soundtrack to the summer I was in treatment, and hearing those songs would help me remember and write what that time period was like.

My little notebook and some tea, at my favorite coffeeshop.

I hope to write more about what inspires me and helps me write, including other authors’ writing, experiences I have had, and the little things in everyday life that spark something within me.

What inspires you to write (or create any type of art!)? What does your process look like?

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