A friend of mine and I were talking. He said he’d like to write plays, “But I don’t have anything to say.”
“That’s bullshit,” I said, because I have a sweet face and a pottymouth. “That’s got nothing to do with writing.”
I was not, in fact, referring to the wealth of fluff in the world (which has its own place and merits). I just think that having some brilliant idea, some inspiration from on high, some vital important thing that you want to say and everyone needs to hear, has nothing to do with creating.
Lots of days I sit at my computer and I am not inspired. But then I write something anyway. And whatever it is, even if it’s utter garbage, is valuable. Because either it led me to an idea, or it helped me practice my writing, or it was day 101 of being disciplined enough to just sit down and write.
I don’t know if it’s really a trend or just something my brain has made into one, but since the New Year I’ve noticed a flurry of posts about the creative process that boil down to about the same thing: Inspiration is bullshit. Work.
Retrospective Headdesk, by Laini Taylor, covers her own work-breeds-success story in writing Days of Blood and Starlight. With bonus gifs!
Brain Pickings has an interview with painter Chuck Close that includes my new favorite quote, “Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”
Without Doing, Dreaming is Useless is a presentation by Rilla Alexander that’s about the trap of not working even when you do have inspiration. tldw? (but come on, watch it): “Anything, even something that fails to meet my expectations, is better than nothing.”
And finally, today’s Advice to Writers has an apt quote from Tracy Kidder:
That you can learn to write better is one of our fundamental assumptions. No sensible person would deny the mystery of talent, or for that matter the mystery of inspiration. But if it is vain to deny these mysteries, it is useless to depend on them. No other art form is so infinitely mutable. Writing is revision. All prose responds to work.
So listen to the mug.