As writers, no matter how experienced we are, we sometimes wait for inspiration. We wait for something, anything, to drive us to the computer, to plop us in our chair, to motivate us to start tapping the keyboard. It may be an idle thought, a moving memory, a captivating quote, a sentimental song, or the release of our favorite author’s next bestseller.
It’s so easy to sit back and wait for inspiration, even if we make our living as a writer. It’s not that we’re lazy, it’s just easier to write when this engine called inspiration propels us.
William Zinsser, in his 30th Anniversary Edition of his classic book, On Writing Well, states “A writer will do anything to avoid the act of writing. I can testify from my newspaper days that the number of trips to the water cooler per reporter-hour far exceeds the body’s needs for fluids.”
We all know what drives us, but what stops us? Is it fear? Is it the burden of the blank page? Is it the internal pressure to write a polished piece before we craft a rough draft?
I’m reminded of the ritual baseball players follow between pitches before stepping back in the batter’s box. He loosens his gloves, then tightens his gloves, adjusts his cap, steps back into the batter’s box, digs his cleats into the dirt, squats into his stance, eyes the pitcher, and takes three practice swings. The pitcher makes his pitch. A ball? A strike? It doesn’t matter. Anything less than a base hit and the batter backs out of the batter’s box, loosens his gloves, tightens his gloves and here we go again.
Writers are like that. We perform our own rituals, mind games to warm up before we swing at a new piece. Grab a cup of coffee, read e-mail, peek at Facebook, daydream, surf the internet, wait for inspiration, tighten our gloves.
In 2012, don’t wait for inspiration. Bypass your rituals. Attack the keyboard. And while I’ll admit that writing has a few more mental obstacles than other professions, at the end of the day, we have to swing at the blank page. Sometimes we will strike out and other times we just might hit the ball out of the park. But nothing happens—or can happen—unless first we swing.
This year I’m going to swing for the fences. I will remind myself that whenever I have to choose between inspiration and discipline, I’ll choose discipline. Why? Because long-term, discipline always achieves more.
Picasso was right. “When you’re waiting for inspiration, it will probably find you working.”
The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of encouragement.
Blog entries are posted on Thursday.
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- The Power of Pen & Paper (thewritersrefuge.wordpress.com)
- How to Silence Your “Inner Editor” (thewritersrefuge.wordpress.com)