As writers, we do everything possible to encourage inspiration in our lives. Sometimes that means creating generally good writing habits, and sometimes it means routines that border on the superstitious (gotta have our lucky pens, right?). In my recently released CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration, I discuss all kinds of ways we can lure inspiration into our lives and give it a comfy place to live so that it’s sure to stick around. However, it’s important that we don’t overlook the vital connection between inspiration and determination.
Inspiration is bit of an airy-fairy kind of beast—not too far removed from J.M. Barrie’s preoccupied, self-absorbed Tinker Bell. It flutters in and out of our lives without too much concern for our needs and wants. Even when we do our best to foster its existence, it can be frustratingly uncooperative. For a writer—someone who pretty much lives on inspiration—this is not a very cheerful state of affairs. But can we can do about it?
Right on top of the list is the necessity of accepting this as a fact of the writing life. Number two on that list is realizing that we all have access to a much more dependable workaround:
Inspiration may sometimes fail to show up for work in the morning, but determination never does. Instead of waiting around on the unpredictable whims of our ethereal friend, who may or may not flit in on gossamer wings and zap us with that potent mixture of brilliance and adrenaline, we can always harness her hardworking older sibling. When we put determination to work and write even when we don’t feel like it, even when inspiration has decided to pull a no-show, we discover a couple of very important truths.
Truth #1: We don’t always need inspiration to write. Particularly if we’ve put in our time studying the craft, our fingers will move on the keyboard from sheer muscle memory, the words will appear on the page in surprisingly coherent lines, and what we have at the end of the day might be rough, but, not only will it probably be better than we think, it will also be words on paper—and that’s always an accomplishment for a writer.
Truth #2: Determination creates a healthy atmosphere for inspiration. The single most important thing we can do to foster inspiration is to be ready for it. Being ready doesn’t mean keeping an ear to the sky, waiting for random epiphanies. What it does mean is that we schedule an appointment with inspiration every single day. She may not always show up, but how will we know if she’s there or not, if we aren’t sitting at our computers ready and listening?
We’d all like to think that inspiration is freebie given to whoever is wanting and waiting. But the truth is that inspiration needs the extra incentive given by someone who is also willing. Inspiration doesn’t come gratis. She requires the hefty price of endless determination. But in return she promises that where determination leads, inspiration will follow. Always.
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K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, editing services, workshops, and her recently released instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.
Find her on her website and blog.