Writers are always looking for inspiration, that spark, that idea that gets words on the page. It could be the search for an intriguing character the reader will either love or hate, or both. It could be a setting that stirs the imagination. But it’s not always about inspiration for the perfect written word. Sometimes we need a whole lot of inspiration just to write the words, to sit our butt in our chair and start typing. We question whether or not we have the talent, the right, to call ourselves writers. We begin to wonder if there aren’t better ways we could be spending our time, like scrubbing the bathroom grout with a toothbrush. For this kind of inspiration we turn to other writers.
That’s why I urge other writers, particularly those new to the process, to join a critique group. It helps tremendously to be able to talk to people who know exactly what I’m going through, the questions, the doubts, the struggles. And it never hurts to hear that something I’ve been working long hours on to perfect has hit the spot.
I also own a number of how-to books by famous authors: “Make Your Words Work” by Gary Provost, “On Writing” by Stephen King, “Writing from the Inner Self” by Elaine Farris Hughes, “Object Lessons” by Eavan Boland, “bird by bird” by Anne Lamott, and “write naked” by Jennifer Probst. Some of these I haven’t even gotten around to opening yet, but they’re all sitting here giving off good energy as I type.
And when I feel like there’s nothing but garbage spilling from my fingers and onto the page I remember these famous quotes:
“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult
“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” William Faulkner
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage – as long as you edit brilliantly.” C.J. Cherryh
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow
If you’re happy telling people you’re an aspiring writer, then go ahead and continue to explain to anyone who will listen how you have an idea for a fabulous novel that would be a guaranteed best seller…if only you had the time to sit down and write it. If you want to call yourself a writer, then you must sit down and write. Your first draft may well be garbage; that’s basically the definition of a first draft. What matters is what you do with it. Do you put it in a drawer and feel content in the mere accomplishment of finishing it? (Okay, if that’s enough for you.) Do you rush it off to e-book so you can share it with the world? (Please, no!) Or do you now take a deep breath and go back to the beginning to delete, add, rewrite? That one’s my choice. Get it down and don’t look back until after I type the words “The End”. It’s just that sometimes I need a little nudge, a reminder why I’m doing this and what I need to do to get it done. And from what I hear from published writers, even the famous ones, sometimes they need a little inspiration, too.