A lot of artists I look at with respect (writers and otherwise) have a problem with ‘waiting for inspiration’ and I get it, I do, but there’s a distinction I (sometimes) think is important to that doesn’t get talked about a whole lot. There’s passive waiting and there’s active waiting. It isn’t even that inspiration needs to “find you working”… It’s that you need to have the skill necessary to do it justice when it does hit, and the need to practice kind of comes with the territory.
That’s why I write as much inane bullshit as I do on a private site, a virtual notebook where I just write for the sake of writing sometimes, or file away quotes, or draft pieces of a story I’ve been trying to flesh out. I’m driven to write even when I’ve got nothing to say but even beyond that, I need to be able to write it out when I am inspired, when that unreliable bitch of a muse deigns to play her role. The more I’m able to write in a single sitting, the less I risk losing in the translation from intangible thoughts to readable, clearly written posts.
If you don’t have the stamina to write out a thousand words in one sitting, or two thousand but the ideas pulsating demand it, the experience of getting them out is going to be a lot more difficult than it needs to be. It’ll be slower, more taxing on the mind (and probably the fingers if you’re not used to typing or writing that much at once). More is at risk of being lost in the transition from head and heart to the page or screen. One of the most recent metaphors I’ve come across has been about fishing.
About how waiting for inspiration is like sitting at the edge of the water hoping a fish will jump into your lap. That’s actually what inspired this post, but only because… yes, waiting is like fishing. Because you can’t force it when your’re not “feeling it” and if you try, it shows. The fish won’t bite. You won’t catch anything. When I force it I can’t shake the feeling that it’s contrived, that it comes across in the writing.
I know it felt forced when I wrote it and it’ll drive me crazy even if no one else notices. Not everyone has to see that though. The main thing that I think deserves to be stated clearly, and that often isn’t, is all the forced writing, the tedious aspects, the misery and private struggles… those are fine. They’re par for the course. Let me tell you what else is fine too though: You can write without sharing what you’ve written. It’s one way you can fish for inspiration actively. Write until you capture something, then share what you caught. Or not. After all…
Not everything you write is going to be worth sharing. Catch it though, then worry about whether it’s what you want or not afterwards. Hook it, then decide whether it’s worth showing off to others.