Thoughts and Inspiration for Creative Writers

-from Chrysalis Editorial

Second guest author: Amy Fries; Writing Inspiration and Motivation

Posted on | March 22, 2010 | 5 Comments

Introduction: Amy and I attended the writing program at Johns Hopkins together when we were both struggling fiction writers. I too knew Ellen—hip hip hooray to her success. It can happen to you, too. (See my endnote.) Now here’s Amy:

Amy Fries new bio photo

Amy Fries

“Thanks to Herta for inviting me to do a guest blog. These days the value of persistence is on my mind. Two of my classmates—one from ten years ago and the other from seven years ago—have recently achieved phenomenal success. I just found out the Ellen Bryson, who was a classmate of mine in the Johns Hopkins University program, sold her wonderful novel for a six-figure advance. It’s called The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, and it’s a love story about the “freaks” in PT Barnum’s turn-of-the-century sideshow. Believe me—you’re going to find it unforgettable! I remember the story well from our workshops a decade ago. Ellen hung in there and over ten years later, hit a well-deserved jackpot. (

Likewise, my friend from the Sewanee Writers Conference (2003), Ann Weisgarber, had the novel she had been working on for almost ten years published in 2009 by Macmillan UK. The Personal History of Rachel DuPree is a moving account of black ranchers struggling to survive in the badlands of South Dakota in the early 1900s. This wonderful novel was short-listed for the UK’s prestigious orange prize and has since been picked up by a US publisher. I think it would make a perfect movie and wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it on the screen soon. (

The point is: both of these extremely talented writers persisted with their fabulous novels, and they finally got them published. They kept revising and revising and then championed their work until they both received the recognition they so well deserved. They are an inspiration to me to dig out my own novel and revise it until I get it right, and then champion it with passion. At the end of the day, it’s a simple lesson. Work hard to get it right, and then don’t give up because the publishing world is a fickle place. You can suffer a million “no’s,” but all you need is that one “yes” to get things going.

Tying into this is the need to stay motivated and engaged. Diving into a novel means immersing yourself in another world. It’s wonderful to get into that zone, but often hard to get there and stay there in our busy to-do-list world. This requires getting enough alone time to get your head back into the dreamline of your story. When I was deep into fiction writing, I’d go for long walks or bike rides in which I thought about nothing but my story. I was transported. Getting into this daydream-like trance requires building yourself the time and space. No one is going to give this to you. You have to take it.

Daydreams at work cover thumbnail

The cover of Amy's wonderful book!

Once a breeze came along and blew away my things-to-do list from my kitchen counter. And guess what? I didn’t miss any of it. Didn’t remember what was on it. None of those chores mattered. But I do miss writing. I do miss my stories. Those matter. I need that breeze again to waft through my brain and set me free. I need to find the strength to do things like turn off the TV, walk away from the computer, and stop being practical. Then I have faith that the quiet and the stories will return.

I write more about this topic of “entering the dream” and jump starting your imagination in my nonfiction book Daydreams at Work (Capital Books 2009). You can read more about it or order it from My blog on also has more on the creative and motivational aspect of daydreaming. Check it out at

If you want to talk further about anything, please feel free to contact me via the following sites:
Daydreams at Work fan page

Footnote: I’d like to echo what she says. Recently I spent 12 days in remote Mexico. No TV, no “bummer” news, few distractions other than walks on the beach, hiking, kayaking, watching the sun sink into the ocean. It put me in the mindset of my novel in progress; ideas came to me; I worked diligently with breaks as those mentioned.

While I know that everyone can’t just pick up and visit far off places to write, you can do as Amy says. I too go bike riding and walking for inspiration. For some reason, taking a shower, singing and just plain “letting go,” is often where I receive opening lines, mid-chapter lines, last lines, etc. The muse visits! I also encourage you to file in the back of your mind whatever problem areas you are having, and I guarantee you that the answer will arrive when you least expect it. At least that’s what happens to me. The mind has a way of sorting through and resolving problems.

We’d love to hear how you get inspiration, persist, and the success you’ve had.


5 Responses to “Second guest author: Amy Fries; Writing Inspiration and Motivation”

  1. Ellen Bryson
    March 24th, 2010 @ 9:27 am

    Hi Herta and Amy;

    Wow. How are you both? I have my book on Google Alert, and up popped this column! What a surprise. Amy and I were emailing, but now to hear Herta’s voice as well. It’s great.

    Funny, too, because what I was just doing, or trying to do, was–what did Amy call it–“enter the dream” for my morning writing. Instead I chose to check my email. You see the circle forming, right?


  2. Austin S. Camacho
    March 24th, 2010 @ 10:27 am

    Amy, you are an inspiration to us all. It’s easy to forget that writing is as much art as craft, and that when we are “in the zone” we live the dream, then record the dream for others to share.

    Keep writing!!!

  3. Amy Fries
    March 25th, 2010 @ 5:22 am

    Thanks, Austin, Ellen, and Herta. Another thing I miss these days–hanging out with fellow fiction writers.

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