As of this morning, I’m the parent of a Kindergartner! My son had a successful launch into the next phase of his education, thanks to shiny red “power shoes,” superhero underwear (a must!), a friendly welcome letter from the Kindergarten teacher, and weeks of parental coaching. (We must have read all the “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten” books ten times each in August!) Equal parts nervous, excited, and proud, my little scholar walked into the building today and did not look back.

The start of school for my son means a return to regular working hours for me. (Cheers! Applause! Confetti! Balloons!) Don’t get me wrong. I love spending time with him. He won’t have another summer of being five. But I do get antsy and cranky when I’m pulled away from a project for too long. It’s been a loooong August, and some of my carefully laid childcare plans unexpectedly fell through. I had to ease up on my ambitious production goals and be grateful for pages I could produce, or snatches of writing time I could grab. Not easy. I’m the kind of person who sets daily word count goals and often exceeds them. When I can’t actually get to my computer some days, I start twitching. I scrawl stuff on napkins and mutter to myself.

While hanging out on numerous playgrounds and water parks last month, I found I could occasionally read short articles and blog posts on my phone. I came across some that kept the embers of inspiration burning.

Here are four gems. I hope you’ll enjoy them too!

1. Midge Raymond’s blog, Remembering English. This is a treasure trove of weekly writing prompts. Even if you can’t get to a computer or paper, you can think them through in your head. It is also a companion to her
new book Everyday Writing, a slim volume packed with advice for carving out a writing life even when you’re incredibly busy with other demands on your time.

2. An article in the Hunger Mountain Review: “The Landscape Unseen,” by Lynne Kelly. I absolutely loved this article. Lynne Kelly is the author of the middle grade novel CHAINED, a fantastic, moving story about an elephant and a boy in India. A country she has never visited in person. In this article, she writes about how she researched her setting, and offers many insights into how you can write about a place from afar with accuracy and conviction.

3. Over at my group blog, Sleuths Spies & Alibis, there’s a great interview: Kristen Kittscher interviews debut author W.H. Beck about her new middle grade novel MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT (which just launched yesterday!) This meaty discussion has a lot of great writing tips, and Beck’s lengthy journey to publication, across many, many drafts is inspiring. (The book is a madcap mystery/adventure about a rat in a middle school, and it’s illustrated by Brian Lies — how cool is that! Even if you don’t find rodents particularly inspiring, do check out the interview!)

4. A fabulous article by Keith Ridgway in The New Yorker: “Everything is Fiction.” I love the argument that just by living and narrating our days, we are creating fiction. Also, I’m a compulsive researcher, and this author’s attitude toward research gave me a startlingly new perspective. He claims that he does no research! (“Research is its own slow fiction, a process of reassurance for the author. I don’t want reassurance. I like writing out of confusion, panic, a sense of everything being perilously close to collapse.”) Yikes! Read it. Eye-opening. I’m not sure I’d ever give up research — I’m a stickler for accuracy — but it did make me wonder, when I get bogged down in researching details, am I doing this for the reader and the story? Or to reassure myself? What if I just made stuff up, and researched for accuracy later?

So there you go. A little productive web-surfing.

What blogs, articles, or websites have inspired you or shifted your thinking lately? 

How do you stir the creative embers when you can’t get to your desk?