On (Not) Waiting for Inspiration to Write

Photo credit: Rayani Melo on Flickr
Frequently, when I get e-mails or questions from writers, I get asked a lot about inspiration, or I hear stories about how writers have lost their inspiration and stopped writing altogether. Many times those stories come with questions along the lines of, “What do I do to fix it?”

I give a lot of tough love here on Writability and my vlog channel bookishpixie. Because the truth is, as nice as it sounds, being a writer is not an easy job.

I love the days when I sit down to write or revise and I feel inspired and excited. When I can’t wait to dive back into whatever I’m working on and immerse myself in my story world. Those are the days when the hours pass quickly and progress flies and I forget all about any external stressors or (for better or worse) responsibilities.

It’d be great if those days were everyday. It’d be awesome if every time I sat down to work on a project, I was in that euphoric can’t wait to get started mode.

Unfortunately, that’s not reality.

Sometimes, I’m apathetic about starting. I know I have to, and it’s on my agenda, and I get up early, brush my teeth, then sit half-awake in front of my computer and get going. Those days are okay. I usually slip into my project relatively quickly and I make the progress I need to, then pat myself on the back.

Sometimes, I sit down to work and…I…don’t want to. Those days aren’t quite so fun. Those are the days when just about anything else is interesting. I’ll wash the dishes, check my e-mail and blog stats, troll on tumblr and Twitter and…my MS is waiting. Those days I have to buckle down and focus on my daily goal—whether it’s a certain number of revision points or a certain number of words to be written. And even with my initial desire to procrastinate, I get my work done anyway.

Why? Because no one else is going to do it for me. Because writing is my job—has been my job even before I got agented—and I need to treat it like one. Because more times than not, once I get working, I start to get into it again. And maybe the words don’t flow as well as inspired days, and maybe revisions are more painful today, but in the end, the work gets done, and that’s what matters.

If you’re serious about writing, you need to be serious about writing. And that doesn’t necessarily mean writing every day—that works for some, but not others, and that’s okay. But it does mean holding yourself accountable, and yes, it means writing when you don’t want to. Or when you’re uninspired. Or when you’d rather do just about anything else.

Because if you wait around for inspiration, chances are likely it’ll never come. Writing doesn’t just happen—you have to make it happen. And some days, that’s easier than others, but ultimately it’s up to you to do your job. Because that’s what writers do.

What do you think? Do you try to write even when you’re not inspired?

Twitter-sized bites:
"Writing doesn’t just happen—you have to make it happen." —@Ava_Jae #writetip (Click to tweet)  
Waiting for inspiration to write? @Ava_Jae says it's up to you to make progress regardless. What do you think? (Click to tweet)

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