WriteAdvice: Inspiration

Tonight’s entry is probably going to be a short one, because I have to get up early tomorrow and do serious adult things (funeral), after having the same thing today(turns out I have at least three allergies!). I know most people do this all the time, but I don’t. My routine is broken, so writing seems optional. Only it isn’t. I can’t let it be. That way lies procrastination, and weeks and months and years of works in progress that never move much past the inspiration stage.

So that’s what we’re talking about tonight: inspiration.

Most people think artists and writers and creative types work in big bursts of energy and passion, frantically typing away through the night and producing a manuscript like magic. The first part of that is true. I’m sure most people drawn to creative fields have those moments of creative energy, where everything is right in the world, sleep is something other people do, and food, drink and good posture belong to some distant world, along with things like time management and hygiene standards.

creative field

It’s a creative field. Geddit?

But I firmly believe that anyone who sticks around in a creative field, long enough to put up their own tent with a little sign out the front saying ‘professional’ doesn’t wait for those moments. You can’t.¹ You have to stick at it, working in that field until you’ve proved you deserve the sign, writing when you’re not inspired, and maybe not that good yet, practicing your art (of whatever variety) when you’re busy or sick or your dog runs away or you have your period. When you just broke up with the love of your life and your kids move out of home the same week your mum dies. Life keeps happening, you can’t let your passions (and more importantly—your practice) stop.

Here comes the requisite pretension—William Blake said “Practice is art, if you leave off you are lost”, so you can’t leave off. I don’t actually mean if you skip writing for a day you’ll forget how and your arms will fall off, but if you stop thinking you have to write everyday, and start making excuses and ignoring your WIPs, then you’re lost. Your field will get overgrown², and eventually you might not be able to tell it apart from the forest of your everyday life.³

And on that note, I think I’m going to go do some writing. See ya.


¹Or maybe you can and I’m some bitter wannabe on the side, who thinks my occasional flashes of inspiration mean I belong in the thick of it with the maestros whose best work comes to them completed, in a dream. Everything I write is subjective and not at all peer reviewed. You have been warned

² Really stretching that metaphor, aren’t I?

³Okay, I stretched it so thin it broke, but I hope you get the point anyway

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