Waiting for Inspiration to Write is the Wrong Attitude

I recently read an article about waiting for the muse to inspire a writer before they sat down to write. The jest of it was that one shouldn’t force the writing.

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While this might work for some writers, I fear it doesn’t work for most writers. Writing only when inspiration hits creates a few problems.

Inspiration hits at inconvenient times: while driving from Nova Scotia to Fredericton at 3 o’clock in the morning; eating watermelon on a horse; paddling in the middle of the harbour; sitting at a writers’ meeting; waiting in the pouring rain because someone is late…you get the picture.

In many instances, you can’t even scribble a sentence on a napkin let alone write out a complete paragraph or half a short story.

For some, inspiration is evasive. I know writers who say they’ll write when they are inspired, and months go by and no words are written. Unlike me, they don’t get inspired by simple things such as news headlines, seeing a unique character cross their path, reading someone else’s story or watching grass grow.

The problem with waiting for inspiration to line up with a convenient time to write is they seldom collide. This would translate into few words written in a lifetime. You might get a book or two written in fifty years, unless you are a rare individual where time often aligns with inspiration.

You can't edit a blank page.For the rest of us, if we want to write professionally, we must plant ourselves in the chair and sow the seeds of inspiration when we get the time and not wait for inspiration to sprout like weeds in the vegetable garden.

We must force ourselves or nothing would get done.

But here’s the truth: the more you write, the more you want to write. In other words, the more you force yourself to write, the more inspired you will become at all times of the day and night. That’s what happened me, and now I can’t stop writing.

Ideally, a specific time can be chosen to write. But if you can’t find a specific time, do what I do: write at every opportunity whether you feel like it or not. Force yourself to write because here are the rules:

  • Writing something is better than writing nothing.
  • A blank page cannot be edited.

There’s a saying that goes something like this: You could wait for your ship to come in, or you could swim out to it.

It’s up to you. Do you want to sit on the shore and possibly watch opportunity float by while you wait for inspiration, or will you grab that keyboard, dive in and swim out to it?

5,000 Word Evaluation

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It takes an awful lot of time to not write a book.

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12 thoughts on “Waiting for Inspiration to Write is the Wrong Attitude

  1. Wise words. I finally stopped crafting excuses and started pushing myself to wake up and write every morning for at least an hour. Some days I run, some days I have to drag myself to my computer, but I get it done. But every time I’m done, I’m happy I did it. 🙂

    • Thank you for visiting, Sharann. I like that phrase ‘crafting excuses’. If those excuses were written into stories, you’d still be writing while crafting them. The key you mentioned is what most of us find: we are happier once we have spend the time writing.

  2. If inspiration doesn’t strike me on a new project, I take the time to revisit an old idea, outline, or story and build upon it. I find building upon a foundation of an earlier idea can jump start my brain to be productive.

    Great article as always!

    • Thanks, Peter. We all have ways to keep writing. And that’s the key: to keep writing. It’s great that you found your way. Giving up is not an option…if you want to be a writer.

  3. So true! like anything worth doing, it takes repeated action to become better at it. The more you write, the more you want to write. I have had guests for three weeks and did almost no writing and I really missed it.

  4. So true, Diane. If you want to be a professional author, you must treat it like any other job where you are expected to turn up every day and do your best. The muse is a wonderful thing, but in my experience, the muse tends to turn up when I keep regular hours.

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