Inspiration doesn’t just happen. Inspiration is the reaction of doing something else first. In all good stories, characters act and then react. In the same way, there are actions, you, as a writer, must act first. The inspiration will follow. Here are nine different actions, different ways of getting started with the writing so that the reaction of inspiration can follow:
1. Create a regular workspace and/or workplace.
Some settings or locations will inspire you to write more than others. Find those locations that work best for you. I know one writer who prefers bookstores and coffee shops. Another prefers the backyard deck with her legs propped on a chair and the computer in his lap. The best locations are those where you can easily move into your zone. Quickly.
Caution: Don’t get so married to your inspired locations, though, that you can’t work anywhere else. Which brings us to the next point.
2. Learn to write anywhere.
I know some writers who say they can’t write where it’s noisy. Putting conditions on your surroundings will create limits of 1) when you can write, 2) where you can write, 3) what you can write.
I’ve been able to write in airports, playgrounds, on a bus, train, plane, or in a car. I’ve written in various restaurants and coffee shops. I’ve written while standing in line, while sitting in traffic at a long stop light, or while waiting for a long train.
If a place is particularly noisy or has annoying background music, use headphones and listen to your own preferred music. In fact, the mere action of listening to your music will put you in the zone more quickly than you can imagine.
Regardless of where I am, once I start writing, soon, the world around me disappears. Yes, I’m cognizant of what’s going on around me, but those people and the noise don’t disturb the bubble I’m in, the thought process, the writing.
3. Learn to write both by hand and by machine.
If you limit yourself to just one mode of writing, you limit opportunities to write.
By being flexible. I’ve been able to add pages by hand, which once I get home, I’d type up, editing as I typed, often doubling the word count.
4. Carry your work with you.
Never leave home without some kind of writing: outline, printouts of the pages that need editing, or a scrap of an idea of a scene that you can flesh out by hand.
I wrote an entire book in mere moments because I always carried the last pages completed or an outline with me everywhere. The bulk of writing time came from lunch hours, where I had a sandwich in one hand and my pencil in the other.
While driving, I can dictate dialogue. Then when I get home, I’m writing around that dialogue. With today’s electronics, dictating where the machine can write the text is the way to go. You can clean up its errors later.
I enjoy editing more when I’m not at my computer, when I’m waiting somewhere or for someone. I’m focused, and generally uninterrupted, on the task.
5. Write first, reward yourself after.
E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and our phones distract us. Write first, then check your media or e-mail. You’ll be surprised how much more you can get done in a day by writing first than if you wait until the end of the day to do the writing.
6. Schedule writing & honor the appointment.
Too often, we treat writing like a task on our To-Do List. Then, we don’t write because we’re tired or it’s too difficult, having delayed the task all day. Before we know it, a whole week has passed with no writing.
Treat writing like an appointment. Don’t bump that appointment unless it’s for an extremely important, serious reason.
7. Write every day.
Cultivate the habit of regular writing. Every day or, at least, five days a week. Minimum. It means putting your butt in the chair and just doing it, whether you feel like it or not.
8. Be willing to write crap.
Give yourself permission to write garbage. Garbage is good. In fact, a first draft should not be about creating perfection. The second draft is where you’ll rewrite by moving paragraphs and sentences, deleting words that don’t fit, and adding words to clarify the meaning, to add missing scenes.
Following drafts will be about more rewriting, then revising, and then finally dealing with the errors, which is where the perfection phase is performed. Trying to write perfection from the beginning stop you in your tracks. Guaranteed. You’ll begin to feel uninspired because you’re not created that perfection you hear/see in your head.
Stop trying to edit while you write first drafts!
9. Just gut it out – just get the first draft done.
The best writers, the most successful writers don’t worry about or wait for inspiration. Nor, do they try for perfection in that first draft.
They just write. Day after day without analyzing or criticizing what they’ve already written.
They just do it. They gut it out and get it done. Only when it’s done, can the analyzing, the rewriting, the editing begin.
- Write that first draft without editing.
- Write it fast!
- Write regularly.