Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management and author of The First Five Pages, answers aspiring authors' questions about writing and getting published.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Any advice on surroundings that can boost one's 'muse'?
I have been working on several projects for many years now. With several setbacks, including the loss of my computer, the death of my Mother and my own cancer diagnosis, I find myself easily distracted, even defeated. I've had to start from scratch on two major projects due to the loss of the computer they were saved on. I was wondering if you had any advice on surroundings or atmospheres that can boost one's 'muse'. I write fantasy/fiction. My brother, who is my biggest critic and supporter, tells me that I seriously need to submit the material I do have to see if a Publisher will bite. This all sounds well and good, unfortunately I've gotten myself into a rut of 'side stories', and I believe this is due to being so distracted. Any advice you may have regarding this would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance.
I am so sorry to hear of your hardship.
I cannot tell you exactly where to go to find inspiration--it will be different for every writer. Some find inspiration by retreating into nature, or by attending writers' colonies, where they can have isolation to work. Some find it in a quiet room at the local library. Other needs to travel to other countries; others find it by reading other books or watching films or listening to music; others still find inspiration right smack in the center of a loud and crowded and busy house!
While I cannot tell you where to go, one thing I can say, in my personal opinion, is that the best way to draw inspiration is to write every day, no matter what. I find that often by the sheer act of writing, one thing leads to the next. The best advice I can give you is to force yourself to sit down every day, for a certain amount of time, and meet a quota of a certain amount of pages, no matter what. Writing is a muscle, and the more you use it, the easier it will be. It is possible your finished draft might not end up being great, or even good. But then you can embark on revising it--and for some writers, inspiration comes even more so during the revision than during the first draft, since the pressure is off of facing the blank page. Some writers may even need to write an entire book and throw it out in order to get the momentum and inspiration that the process gives them to leap into the next book, which is the one they really want to write.
So just write. Write every day, no matter what, and write more than you ever thought was possible. Sometimes increasing your quota helps unlock something. Sometimes writers believe they can only write 2 pages a day--and by forcing yourself to write 20, you tap some part of yourself you didn't know was there and find a new source of inspiration. You can also experiment with writing in different rooms of your house, in different chairs, at different desks, and by computer, by typewriter, by hand--and even by dictation. Experiment and have fun. But don't stop writing.
Please feel free to ask Mr. Lukeman your questions about publishing (or about the craft of writing) by posting them in the "comments" section of the blog. He cannot answer every question, but will pick questions to respond to periodically. Please be advised that he is providing this service simply to give back to the writing community and that he is not accepting new clients, so please don't use this blog to query him.
To give back to the writing community, Mr. Lukeman has made several of his books available for free, including How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, How to Write a Great Query Letter and Ask a Literary Agent (Year One). Feel free to visit www.writeagreatquery.com to download the e-books.
Periodically, Mr. Lukeman will send out the Ask a Literary Agent ezine. If you'd like to subscribe, you may do so here:
Noah Lukeman is President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, which he founded in 1996. His clients include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, finalists for the National Book Award, multiple New York Times bestsellers, major celebrities, and faculty of universities ranging from Harvard to Stanford.
Mr. Lukeman is also author of several books on the craft of writing, including The First Five Pages (Simon & Schuster), The Plot Thickens (St. Martins Press) and A Dash of Style: (W.W. Norton). He has also authored two e-books: How to Write a Great Query Letter and How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, which he gives away for free as a way of giving back to the writing community. He has also made available over 100 pages of free advice for authors from all his books, which you can read on his site.
Mr. Lukeman has been a guest speaker on the subjects of writing and publishing at numerous forums, including Harvard, Columbia University, The Juilliard School, Stanford University, and the Writers Digest Panel at Book Expo America. He earned his B.A. with High Honors in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University, cum laude.