Being unemployed has one benefit: it allows me to spend more time on writing-related stuff, and still slack off an awful lot. But as much slacking as I've been doing (too much), I have been doing a lot of writing-related work. One of the most obvious bits of progress, of course, is this blog. As you can see, I've changed the colors somewhat, hopefully making it easier for folks to read. That white on black scheme I had going looked snazzy, but it was hard even for me to read.
I know the masses aren't exactly craving updates on my works in progress, since I'm not famous or anything, but I'll share anyway. I really feel like Kricket's Song is finally going from "good" to "great." My latest attempts to recruit beta readers were actually successful, and they've provided some very helpful feedback. Miraculously, they pointed out the same flaw in the book. For those of you who've been through this process, you're probably aware that this is a good thing, because it doesn't always work like that. You get five beta readers and get five different opinions. Awesome. Which one do you go with? But when you get different people saying the same thing, now you know what to work on!
So, I'm doing a lot of revising and editing. Thankfully, the changes don't require major rewrites, just an extra short scene here and there, a little bit better description of the main character's thoughts and emotions, and improving how he interacts and relates to the other characters. The revisions have yet to go back to the betas, as I'm still working on them, but I feel like they make Kricket's Song a lot better. Hopefully good enough to at least get a nibble from some agents the next time I try querying.
I've also been doing beta reading for three other writers. It's a lot of work, but they're helping me, so I enjoy helping them, and it's getting me to read more. I'm also learning from the experience, and that's always a good thing.
I really jumped the gun with trying to query before finding good beta readers. Don't make the same mistake I did! Shop around until you find some. It will save you a lot of time and grief. And no, your family and friends don't count.
Finally, I want to just briefly mention some of the things that inspire me while writing. As with everything else I've mentioned regarding the writing process, inspiration varies greatly from person to person.
For me, it's usually music. I like to listen to it while I write, at a volume that I can hear, but not so loud as to distract me or make concentration difficult. The kind of music I listen to usually depends on the genre I'm writing at the time.
Epic Score (Gabriel Shadid and Tobias Marberger)
Abney Park - For steampunk/fantasy
Future World Music
Two Steps From Hell
Front Line Assembly - For military sci-fi, dark, post apocalyptic
Video Game Soundtracks - Such as Halo, Deus Ex
Bjorn Lynne - Colony
Before I start writing a manuscript, pictures can also inspire me. I like to find pictures of people that look similar to major characters. I also look for pictures that inspire certain settings or scenes within the book itself. I save these in folders with the files for the WIP itself, for easy reference. It adds a little color to all the black and white notes. I also often get ideas for completely unrelated projects, which I keep for future reference.
Every writer should find something that inspires them and keeps them motivated, not just for the initial idea, but through the project as a whole. We've all experienced that initial flash of excitement, and then the motivation drains away after we start. For me, moving music helps me to keep forward progress going. Well defined characters and an interested world help me keep from getting stuck, or running into "writer's block."
I hope, if nothing else, this will inspire you to figure out what keeps you motivated for the long haul.