Everyone loves those moments of inspiration, when we get that light bulb flashing in our brains like a cop car in a high-speed chase. There’s nothing like those electric moments when it seems like the heavens open for us and the words write themselves. They are epiphanies that make life as a writer so magical. They make us feel gifted and help us believe that we might actually have a shot at this crazy creative enterprise of writing fiction.
But, they don’t happen every day, do they? And you’ve got pages to fill and transitions to make to tie those multiple moments of inspired text come together into a cohesive whole. It’s hard when the muse has taken a coffee break and the fires of inspiration go cold. And to wait for that next inspired spark doesn’t get the words on the page, does it? Call it writer’s block, or a lack of motivation, those dry spells can really put the brakes on our egos and make us wonder if we really have what it takes to make it in the publishing world.
I’ll confess, I’ve been going through that second phase a lot lately. I suffer from periodic bouts of depression, and if you don’t know, that can make it really hard to be creative. Of course, my primary defense mechanism for fighting my depression is to wander off into flights of fancy that, when the bout passes, can make for some pretty cool story ideas. But most of this summer, I didn’t write a single word. Even getting a post up for this blog, at times, was a struggle. I started to wonder if maybe I should just put a cap on the idea of chasing that publishing dream.
But struggle doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. I don’t know about you, but there have been times when writing felt like pulling teeth. It felt forced and flat because the words just didn’t flow the way I thought they should. The prose fought me because I wasn’t in one of those inspired moments, but I had to soldier on to get the work done. The crazy thing is that, on re-reading those difficult patches later on, they tend to be far better than the stuff that flew out of my fingers.
So, here’s what I’ve learned. Maybe those moments of inspiration are just as fantabulous as they seem, and maybe the uninspired ones are hard, but we should never let our writing be guided only by inspiration. Love the gifts when they happen, but never let a reliance on those moments hamper our productivity, or make us doubt that we can or can’t do the thing we love-write a darned good story.
Word. I’m a bit of a binge writer myself, and sometimes I feel like I have to come with the Next Big Idea to even plant butt in chair. But I’ve also found that the best way for me to get inspired is to reread the parts of my WIP that I’ve already written and get drawn back into that world (since the reason I write in that world is because it keeps pulling me in for more). In so doing, I finally come to a point where I had previously left off, and realize that the next step that needs to be taken is right there in my head, itching to get on the page. That’s the method that words best for me to get back on track producing.
I’ve found that the more I write, the more I look back and see inspiration where I didn’t initially feel it.
I’ve been lagging in the inspiration department on my current wip, and you’re so right. I loved Brandon’s reminder to go back and read what came before, and also just the Butt in chair….remedy. I may throw away a chapter or two or three, but it’ll come, if I keep writing. Nothing happens if you give up. Thanks for a great post!
Sometimes that hard forced writing turns out to be garbage that got me to the good stuff… and some times it’s the good stuff I didn’t realize was good till later. Good post, Leigh! Just get the butt in the chair and write… inspired or not.