Time Out for Inspiration: Arlyn

(This is the second in our series, “What Inspires You?” in which Inspira team members share where they find their inspiration and motivation for writing.  Part One was by Assistant Editor Heather Sipes. This week’s post is by Arlyn Lawrence, Inspira’s founder and president. )

 

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For me, motivation to write often comes to me out of an urge to help people. I’m not really the kind of writer who writes just for writing’s sake; I need to have an objective. So, when I have an idea or message I think will equip, encourage, empower, or even inspire someone, I am motivated!

But even though I am legitimately a people person, “alone” is where I do my best thinking, praying, reflecting, producing, and reprogramming. To get myself in the flow, I like to be alone and undistracted by people talking, or by any kind of words at all. (So I can’t write very well in coffee shops, unfortunately!) Generally speaking, an inspirational writing environment for me includes:

  • solitude
  • beauty (if I can be near the water or the mountains, that’s a big plus!)
  • music (no words when I’m writing, so I usually choose classical or piano solo)

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I think one of the most helpful things I’ve learned as a writer is that inspiration doesn’t just happen. You have to set up for it, sort of “invite it in.” So besides the inspirational ingredients I just mentioned, I also try to set up with:

  • an orderly environment
  • a regular time and place
  • having a defined purpose for the time
  • a clear mental picture of the “whom” I’m writing to/for

We have access to a timeshare condo at Mt. Hood, Oregon, a three-hour drive from our home. When I really need inspiration and solitude for a writing project or multiple projects, it’s a great go-to place for a personal retreat. There, along with time to write, I can enjoy walks in the woods, or a trip to the snow in season. Then there’s the river—right outside my doorstep.

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And sometimes I’ll drive a half-hour to the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood where I can park myself in a quiet spot to work and look out at the view:

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In these settings, I can be incredibly productive and it always amazes me how much I can get done in a shorter amount of time. I am refreshed and re-invigorated by my little “working personal retreats.” I find I actually like spending time with . . . me! When I am home again and back to reality, I feel more on top of things, much refreshed, and definitely more inspired by my “time out.”

Writing Workshop Success!

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It was a day of recognizing dreams and putting them into action. For our Inspira team, hosting a writing workshop has been a long-time dream that finally became a reality. With tested principle and strategies, we have brought over two dozen books into print. We wanted a way to make that expertise available to authors who are not quite ready for the full menu of our services, but wanted some tools to get started on a dream of their own: writing a book.

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Last Saturday, we hosted part one, “So, You Have a Story: Now What?” Wanting to honor our name, Inspira, we chose the beautiful and inspirational Gig Harbor Marina as our workshop location. While it wasn’t exactly sunny, the sky was clear and the harbor view was the perfect backdrop for our participants to get inspired.

“This workshop will be a success,” Arlyn began, “if each of you leave feeling inspired to write a book and equipped with the tools to do so.”

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One thing we think is unique about Inspira is that while all our clients are authors, they are not all necessarily writers. We believe that each client, workshop participant, and person (that means you, too!) has a unique message to share, and a unique sphere of influence with which to share it. We specifically reach out to those who may not be writers, but have a powerful message that deserves to be in print. This workshop’s participants included fiction writers, businessmen and women, faith leaders, and community leaders with wisdom and stories to share.

The workshop covered how to establish your book’s objectives (this is key!), developing a plot (fiction) or outline (non-fiction), getting your ideas flowing, titling, the components of good writing, and how to refine your manuscript. It was a full day! Many people came into the room doubting their abilities, and/or felt overwhelmed at different moments throughout the day. We were able to assure them: this is a normal part of the writing process! Fear, uncertainty, and doubt come with the territory. Successful authors make peace with this and just keep writing!

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In the afternoon we took a break for lunch at JW’s Trolley for some fish and chips (the best food to fuel a writer!) Then, refreshed by the ocean breeze, it was time to put pens to paper, and write. The silence was filled with pens scratching and keyboards clacking, and an atmosphere of excitement grew in the room. As the participants shared what they had written, there was a palpable sense of “we can do this.” It is a beautiful thing to have a room full of people passionate about their dreams. However, it is even more beautiful to have a room full of people actively pursuing their dreams, equipped with the confidence and know-how to do so. “Thank you for such an encouraging and practical workshop,” said one participant. “I am excited to see these dreams in print!”

At the end of the workshop, each and every person said they felt inspired and equipped to make their dream a reality. With our criteria met, we consider the workshop a success!

We invite you to join us for part two, “Steps to Publishing Your Manuscript” on Saturday, September 24th at the Gig Harbor Marina. Visit https://inspiralit.com/workshop/ for more information.  

Post by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor

Fathering the Future

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Last Saturday, several of our Inspira team had the honor of attending the 14th Annual “D.A.D.S.” Fatherhood Banquet and the launch of our client Marvin Charles’ new book, Becoming Dads: A Mission to Restore Absent Fathers.

Marvin is the founder and executive director of D.A.D.S., a community based organization dedicated to walking with men in supportive community, and helping them navigate the relational and legal barriers that separate them from their children and families. Over the past ten years, Marvin and Jeanett Charles, along with their team at D.A.D.S., have worked with 3,222 men to bring them back to their families!

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Becoming DADS: The Mission to Restore Absent Fathers tells Marvin’s own powerful story of redemption and restoration, providing absentee fathers with a message of hope and a vision for the future, as well as practical support and resources. Through this book, he hopes to educate people on what the real issues are that compromise families and energize the cycle of abandonment and fatherlessness.

The theme of this year’s D.A.D.S. fundraising banquet was “Fathering the Future.” The banquet honored fathers who have taken the steps necessary to provide a future for their families. The men who took the stage shared their stories of their own fatherlessness, addictions, and court battles. All of these men chose to stand up to the cycles of hurt and pain in their communities, turn their lives around, and give back to their children.

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“D.A.D.S. provided me with hope again,” said one father. “They listened and educated me. They heard my story with an open heart; they understood my emotions. They took my hand and walked step by step with me, shared tears with me, and celebrated my joys and victory.”  At the end of the banquet, the full house of committed D.A.D.S. supporters gave a record $200,070—nearly half the organization’s budget for the year!

The keynote speaker for the evening was Jeff Kemp (another past Inspira client). Jeff is a former NFL quarterback and is the author of Facing the Blitz: Three Keys for Turning Trials into Triumphs (published by Bethany House). He used the biblical story of Gideon to describe the mission of D.A.D.S. Just like God called Gideon a brave man of valor when he was still in the winepress, D.A.D.S. speaks identity and purpose over men before they recognize it themselves.

After the banquet, Marvin hosted a book signing for Becoming DADS. It was exciting to see this book in the hands of people who care passionately about this cause. We can’t wait to see the continuing impact of Marvin’s story, this book, and D.A.D.S!

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To order and find out more about the book Becoming Dads, visit Marvin’s website at http://www.marvinlcharles.com. Learn more about the work of D.A.D.S. at http://www.aboutdads.org.

Post by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor 

Finding Your Muse: Heather

There are several people who work behind the scenes at Inspira and we want you to hear from them! This is the first post in a series that focuses on inspiration and where each of us finds it. Today you will hear from Heather, one of our assistant editors. She is a millennial, a firecracker, and a working mom of three.

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If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good, productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
– David Brin

I started keeping a diary when I was six years old. As soon as I was able to write and “spell” (e.g., Deer jernel, today I went to chirch…), I started writing my thoughts on paper. This continued throughout high school, and even into college. Around middle school I realized that not only was I a decent writer, but I was also fiercely passionate about the world of words. It was cathartic and soothing during my times of hurt and heartbreak, and was a safe place to gush about new loves and future dreams. Writing was my home. I decided becoming a “writer when I grew up” was the next logical step.

Now, here I am. I guess you could call me a grown up, but to that I say, “not quite.” I’m a part-time writer, part-time editor, and full-time mom. When I’m not waking up with a nursing baby, putting Band-Aids on the preschooler who’s learning to ride her bike, or negotiating with a two-year old genius, you’ll find me behind a computer screen, typing away, or furiously making red marks on a first draft manuscript.

When I’m actually writing (as opposed to editing), I’ve got to work from personal inspiration. As writers (creative artists of our own league), we all do! In order to produce high-quality, poignant, and insightful content, you must have a source of inspiration at the foundation. As a six-year old, it was in what I did that day or how I was I feeling about my siblings at that very moment. Now, as a “grown-up,” it’s a bit more complex and can change from day to day.

It depends on what season of life you’re in (Do you have young children? Are you newly in love? Healing from an ended relationship? Thriving in your career? Grieving the loss of a loved one?), what you’re passionate about, and even how much sleep you got the night before.

Your source of inspiration, or “muse,” so to speak, is an integral part of the writing process, and it’s necessary in order to produce inspiring work. Although everyone’s inspiration sources are different, here are a few of mine:

  • Other writers. What kind of language do they use? How does their writing make me feel? What do I enjoy about their writing? What do I dislike?
  • My kids. Again, this is incredibly reflective of my current life season, but my children are my biggest source of inspiration right now. When I’m with them, and when I see them interact with each other, my heart feels the fullest it has ever felt. When I’m in the throes of sleep deprivation and just can’t seem to catch a moment alone and the sink is overflowing with dishes, I reflect on grace and selflessness and the reasons for which I was put on this Earth.
  • Nature. Sure, it may sound a bit cliché to some, but the beauty of my surroundings—the sound of dripping rain, the crunch of leaves beneath my boots, the feeling of the sun prickling my skin—turns my mind into a flurry of passionate ideas and possibilities. It’s hard not be moved by the magnificence that surrounds me—even in my own neighborhood!
  • Dreams. What are my hopes for the future? What implications do those dreams have for my family and those I love? How does my writing play into my future goals?
  • Feelings. As a people loving and intuitive free spirit (fellow emotional lives-of-the-party, raise your hand!), my feelings are pretty important to me (if you ask my husband, he’d say they drive my whole life). Naturally, my emotions play a huge part in my writing. I find that I am most inspired to create when I am either incredibly sad or incredibly happy. Other strong emotions like fear, regret, immense relief, and gratitude also get my wheels turning.
  • Observing the small things. Some of my best writing has come from observing tiny, fleeting moments and reflecting on their impact. When I close my eyes and envision the way a tiny, two-year old heartbeat feels against my chest, or the way my home smells in the evening when the windows have been open all day, inspiration swells within me. Look for the potential that exists in the mundane!

Remember, no two writers’ journeys are the same. What drives me is likely not what drives you. What’s important is that you create good work from a place that feels real, raw, and inspiring. I hope these words have motivated you to get out there, get inspired, and get out that dusty ol’ novel you started three years ago (or start the mommy blog you always dreamt you’d start). Inspiration is everywhere!

What inspires you in your writing? What places of inspiration has your best work come from? What does inspiration feel like to you?