Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Creative writing, both inspiration and perspiration

"Eliminate the time between the idea and the act, and your dreams will become a reality." Jean Jacques Rouseau

Good advice, I think, especially for the writer. Ideas are plentiful enough. It's the act of transferring them to paper (or word processor) before they evaporate that is too often lacking. Writing requires inspiration, but inspiration alone produces nothing if it is not acted upon—and that requires discipline and consistent work. I once read the advice of a famous author—so long ago that I don't remember who it was, but the gist of his comment is this: to be a successful writer, one must have a desk and chair, a writing instrument, and a bathrobe with a long belt. The purpose of the belt is to tie the writer to the chair. 

It is so easy to allow ourselves to be distracted; to decide to wait for inspiration, when nothing immediately comes to mind. However, unless we allow time in our busy lives to be still and listen, our muse hardly stands a chance of getting an idea through to us. And unless we act on the ideas when they come, we may lose our chance forever. 

I like the article Building a Creative Practice, Not for Wimps by Janet Riehl posted on the Story Circle Network, Telling HerStories, the Broad View. She advises, "Don't wait for your muse to show up." According to Janet, we need to decide the best time and place for our regular writing, make a date with our muse, and ink it into our calendar. If you are interested in writing successfully and on a regular basis, you will want to read the full article. 

I would add one thing to Janet's points on creative practice: Always be prepared to entertain the muse should she show up unexpectedly. Keep a note pad and pen close at hand so that when an idea or inspiration strikes, you can write it down before it escapes. Keep writing materials at your bedside, for often the muse visits just as you are awaking, before you have time to fill your head with the chatter of daily tasks and concerns. 

I give many similar pointers and further advice for enhancing writing habits in my fiction writing workshops. Now the trick is to incorporate them fully into my daily life. 


Georgina said...

Janet -- so that must be the problem -- my bathrobe doesn't have a long tie. Thanks so much for the encouragement. Actually making some progress - finished my little memorial book and getting back to the project started at the last class. Kindest regards. Geo

Janet Muirhead Hill said...

Hi Geo,

Glad to hear of your writing progress. I'm very interested in seeing how the project you started in my class develops. You write so well, it's bound to be good.