I had an interesting conversation with a non-writer friend today. When I told him that I was struggling through a particular section, and that I don’t always want to write but still do, he told me, “You shouldn’t write if you don’t want to.” He still didn’t understand when I told him that I’d never get anything done if I waited to be inspired by a magical choir of angel-muses (I’m pretty sure I used similar wording to that) and in the end I gave up.
Since I’m a little more eloquent in writing than in speech, perhaps this medium would be a better way to explain my frame of mind. Though I don’t personally know a lot of people writing novels, I’ve seen on the internet a number of people claiming that they want to write a novel but just haven’t been inspired. Of course, there’s the initial spark of an idea that we need to get a project off the ground, but anything inspiring after that is a bonus. Sure, when I have been shot by said angel-muse-choir I can write pages and pages in the space of an hour but when they’ve been gagged, I carry on. My output may not be as fast, and there are plenty of stops and starts, but I’m still getting there.
The idea that writers must wait for inspiration is utterly ridiculous. If I wrote only when inspired I would have written maybe half my first draft and then I would’ve given up. That means I could have quite possibly given up writing two years ago if I sat around waiting for the angel-muse guys to come back. In fact, the only time where I’ve seen someone actually claim that you can only write when inspired was some evangelical bloke trying to push a writing method that a cynic like me couldn’t take seriously. I’m not here for a sugar coma, thanks.
I think I’ve already stated at least ten times the stupidity of waiting for that epiphany before writing. Believe me, you will run out of juice after that crazy session. You will still have the ideas that you thought of, but it will become harder to get them onto paper. The key is to not give up. Giving up before the end when you haven’t completely mangled the thing beyond recognition (and sometimes even then. Look at my first draft!) is a sad, sad thing. And sad, sad things tend to make the people involved sad.
So appreciate those bright sparks and the ideas they give you, but once the light has faded and the sprint has slowed to a walk, keep going. These are the moments that will mark you as a writer.