When we ask a question like, “What inspires you to write?” we are laying out the premise that writers need inspiration. In a perfect world, writers would always write what they want, how they want with no sweat, tears, or extra nudging involved. I’m not meaning to draw a completely bleak picture of the writing life, but I think any writer will understand me when I say sometimes writing is just plain hard.Anything worth having is difficult, right? Still, as writers we all should have something to lean on – something to go do when the big old Block sets in and we need a boost.

For me, that boost has often come from a book called A Novel Idea. In the three and a half years since I received it, it’s done wonders for me. It’s written by large group of established authors, including Jerry B. Jenkins, Francine Rivers, and Karen Kingsbury. I’m not trying to completely play favorites, but Karen Kingsbury is one of my writing heros. And I get to take writing advice from her –  a New York Times bestselling author. Needless to say, they all know what they’re talking about.

Every page has been invaluable to me. The plot and pacing advice on the beginning has helped me start two large manuscripts so far. The character advice was wonderful, also. It provides tips on how to really getting to know your characters, including setting up an interview with them. There is one specific page that I’ve gone to a dozen times. (Page 171, if you have the book and want to know.) It deals with having a good kind of tunnel vision and it has often prodded me to do what I ought to and write.

“We must work hard and we must pray, believing that God is taking our writing to the place where he alone can showcase it. … The world will rev its engines and honk at us. We will at times be distracted, discouraged, defeated, and depressed. … Never mind the world’s distractions. We are writers, and we must stay the course. We must be hardworking and hopeful. We must write.”

Guess who wrote that? Karen Kingsbury.

I’ve sat there before and tried to argue with her. I mean, of course writers must write. How obvious does her advice have to be? Then I stop arguing, first because she’s right, and second because I feel self-conscious debating with a book. Then I get up off the couch and start typing.

Challenge of the day: find what gets you off the couch.