Monday, June 25, 2012

Why You Should Write Even When You Don't Feel Like It

Every writer experiences writer's block at some point.  What should they do about it?  There are different ways to handle the lack of inspiration, but sticking it out (i.e., writing whether you feel inspired or not) may be better in the long run. 

Writer's Block

So, you have no inspiration to write?

Then don't, some might say.  You may simply be "empty," or need to recharge yourself.  Better to take a walk, exercise, spend time with others, or whatever it takes to address resistance, fill up emptiness, or whatever it is that impedes the writing.  

“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a  club"

According to this quote by Jack London, it's better to write anything, anything at all -- whether it's inspired or not.  Here's why:

  • "Recharging"  While it's always good to re-energize yourself, if used to delay writing, it may simply end up being another form of avoidance.   Let’s face it, sitting down to a blank  page can be scary.  It’s tempting to wait until inspiration strikes.  Moreover, almost every writer has experienced moments of unsolicited inspiration--that feeling of knowing, of wanting to write, and one that some assume is the mark of a "real" writer (which, judging by the accounts of many renowned writers, is a myth).  
    Read, write, rewrite
  • "Inspirational" epiphanies are rare.  Each writing experience, whether it grows into a new poem, story, or novel, adds to a writer’s skill.  So less writing means there is less opportunity to mature as a writer – not to mention the relative paucity of output when it’s based on only “inspired” moments. 
  • Writing regularly begets writing.  Robert Bly's "Morning Poems" came about this way.  Each was written before the poet got out of bed every morning.  He reportedly followed an image or memory that arose and then followed wherever it led.  Writing at the same time every day is seen as an invitation to the muse to show up at that same time. 
  • Writing aimlessly is like going on a treasure hunt.   Oftentimes a writer may strike a vein that leads to something new and fresh -- that is, inspiration may come from writing itself.  Similar to the phenomenon coined by Keats, "writing into the unknown"  involves a sort of "discovery" of the writer (who did not set out to write about anything in particular).  And the writer's journey ends up being a discovery for the reader as well.  Many poems that start this way are powerful and deeply felt.  

 Don't forget the value of writing prompts

Spark Your Creativity

nother way to elicit the Muse is to experiment with writing exercises, examples of which abound 
  • Find the prompts that speak to you personally.  One you get the ball rolling, you may want to follow your own and ditch the exercise.  That's fine, since the goal is to write, and to write in a way that is unique to you. 

So what are you waiting for?  Go to your room, coffee shop, park, or wherever, and write! 

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