Saturday, October 6, 2012

How To Be A Writer.5


Don’t mind me. I’m just sitting here waiting for inspiration to strike so I can get on with it. I’m also waiting for a chocolate cake to materialize in front of me. There’s about as much chance of that happening so I might as well.

While I’m at it, the waiting part, I shall also be waiting patiently for some magical weight loss, and maybe some cookies.

Occasionally I am struck by inspiration, but it’s usually at an inconvenient time. Inspiration that strikes when I’m driving isn’t all that useful, because if I stop the car and start writing I won’t get to my destination, which means I’ll probably be late for something. If I’m working on a spreadsheet and inspiration tells me to write a short story about numbers, chances are I’ll make myself continue on the spreadsheet, because that’s what we call paying work, and it keeps a roof over my head.

Inspiration is tricky. I have heard people say they’re waiting for it, as if it’s a train that’ll roll into the station at exactly 4:05 pm, unless it’s running late, in which case we’ll get impatient and curse the damn thing for not being there when we want it.

Maybe it is, for some people. Maybe they can only write when inspired. For me, inspiration is a nuisance, because it often comes when I’m traveling, or when I’m doing something else, and by the time I can get a piece of paper and a pen, or a pencil, or my iPad, or my phone, if I’m that desperate, or my laptop, it’s already started to fade away, like a vampire on a sunny morning.

Sorry about the vampire reference, but now that they’re not the hottest thing around I like to mention them.

Or are they? I don’t know. I’ve been too busy trying to find my inspiration to have a clue.

Inspiration, if you’re counting on it to get anything done, and by anything done I mean, “get the book done,” is not the most effective method of doing the work. It involves a lot of waiting and little actual work. I have a habit of waiting for inspiration to strike, and while waiting I eat donuts.

I am now 450 pounds and have no words to report.

That’s not entirely true. I have a few words, and not that many pounds. And I can never find a donut when I want one anyway.

But if I were to wait for inspiration, that is what could happen. Most of my life I waited for inspiration, which explains my dismal output. Between the waiting and the fear of failure and my own expectations it’s a wonder I’ve done anything at all.

Here’s how to find inspiration: sit your butt down and write. Write instead of thinking about it. Write instead of waiting for inspiration. Write instead of reading about it. (Easy for me to say, from this perspective.)

Waiting for inspiration is about as useful as waiting for your fairy godmother to sprinkle glitter on you and make you pretty. And by you, I mean me, of course. Write without inspiration, and the inspiration may sneak in the back when you’re not looking. It may come in the dead of night, a slight whisper that you can barely hear. It may not come at all, because it doesn’t like to be controlled, and it doesn’t like to be summoned. So act like you don’t care about it. Do your writing without it, and perhaps inspiration will start trying to get your attention, like that boy in high school who didn’t like you at all until you started ignoring him, and then he became a pretty good stalker.

Not that you want inspiration stalking you, though it would be a better stalker than the boy from high school. Don’t count on it, don’t let it rule your work, and don’t let it know that you care.

Of course you care, but act like you don’t.

Write without it, and let inspiration know you can take it or leave it, because you’ve got your own life to lead.

Just write.

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