Author Problems: Stop Relying on Inspiration and Creative Writing Ideas
When it comes to author problems, nothing is more pressing than having an endless pool of creative writing ideas, methods, writing prompts, and other tools to keep the words flowing. We need to be inspired, we need to have that great story idea hit us, so we can open up a new file and pour our plot onto it.
When writing is a hobby, it’s perfectly fine to only write when you’re inspired. Wait for that perfect moment when you’re relaxed and in tune with your muse to work on your story. But when it’s not your hobby, but your career, here’s a novel creative writing idea – stop relying on inspiration!
I am not the first one to tell you that no one cares you’re uninspired today, this week, or this month. Deadlines don’t care, publishers don’t care, readers don’t care. They want the next book or installment in your story, and they want it now. If you have at least one fan, they’ve already pestered you about writing faster.
Why Do We Think We Need Inspiration to Write?
Writing is a creative process. It is a form of art. So the concept of muses interfering and inspiration flowing through us, guiding our hand to the keyboard, is not new. It’s embedded in our slightly bohemian perception of the craft of writing. Yes, being in the right frame of mind makes writing easier. But being tired, stressed, or not really in the mood does not in fact stop you from writing. You might write shittier than normal, but you can still type words to form sentences and paragraphs.
There are plenty of magazine articles, books, and blog posts to help you write – everything from writing prompts to lists of inspiring music or videos. I know I’ve written about them. What we rarely talk about is how these inspirational tidbits work. They are not needed to write, but in some cases they make the process smoother.
If you’re listening to music, staring at pretty pictures, and watching videos on the topic you’re writing about, you’re helping your brain focus. Forget about stress, sores, and self-doubt first, then write. These are tools, not having them is not an impediment though. Otherwise, it’s like saying you can’t light a fire without a lighter, simply because any other method might take longer.
Why You Should Not Use Lack of Inspiration as an Excuse
If this is your career of choice–and it doesn’t matter much whether it’s your only job or you divide your time between being an author and a day job–then being uninspired is nothing more than an excuse. Most often it’s caused by anxiety, self-doubt, or even laziness. Writing is hard work and we all look for little tricks to make it easier. But when our tricks fail us, writing becomes harder, not impossible.
The way I think about it is to compare it with a normal job. Endless times I had to go to work when I really didn’t feel like it. I was tired, stressed, maybe a little or a lot sick, but I was supposed to show up and get the job done. No one cared I had a nightmare last night, or didn’t sleep well, or I’d preferred to take a walk outside instead of being stuck in an office. If I’d only worked when I was inspired to do it… well, I would have been fired.
The truth is most of us write because we love it. Just because of that, writing should be something we put more effort into than a regular job. Besides, let’s face it, writing is the easiest part of our job. The moment you’ve finished drafting something, you have to battle a lot more self-doubt and criticism while you self-edit, go through betas, or go through editing with a professional. Not to mention querying agents or submitting to publishers. And then there’s marketing which a lot of authors hate.
Creative Writing Ideas Are Imperfect
Writing inspiration is subjective. What ideas work on some might not work on others. Some work well with writing prompts, others might never find any use in the many lists of hundreds of topics. More so if you outline your novel and are the definition of a planner. You know where you are going, so if you outline your novel, that will keep you writing a lot more than some inspirational one liner you’re supposed to build a story or a scene on.
The problem with this imperfection? It can lead to even more self-doubt. If you go through all the writing prompts and ideas to break a writing slump, and still fail, most times you won’t tell yourself they just weren’t for you. You’ll beat yourself up and feel like a failure instead. If you’re going to waste your time on searches, reading through posts, and listening to the sound of rain, why not put that time into typing words on paper. So what if they’re bad? That’s what editing is for, to trim the unflattering parts of your writing.
Build the Habit of Writing and Forget about Inspiration
It might sound harsh, but you don’t really need inspiration to write. You are a writer, you have great story ideas, you are inspired by definition. Unlike other people, you can actually go the distance of writing an entire story. And you have the guts to share that with the world. Not many people can achieve that.
Writing is what you do, therefor you should write as often as you can. I try to do it daily. Even when I am tired or sick or really not in the mood. On days like that, I stop at a paragraph or a few sentences, but I still write. No exception.
It takes a lot of effort to turn an activity into a habit, but writing should become part of your daily routine. It takes a long time, too, it won’t happen over night, but it’s paramount if you want to meet your writing career goals. I started writing daily on January 1st. It’s April 20th today, and I haven’t missed a day. Only now, on my fourth month, the mere suggestion of not writing on a specific day makes me queasy. My answer to that is “NO!” First couple of months though? I had to break apart an ever more intricate series of excuses.
Writing isn’t always easy. But should it be? And should we be slaves to the artistic concept of the writer who only types words when the stars align the right way? Or should we pour every effort into crafting the perfect story, blood, sweat, and tears becoming building blocks? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!