Inspiration or Perspiration

I have a number of friends.  Yes, that’s right.  It might be hard to believe, but I do.  Several of those friends are writers.  As a matter of fact, my sister (who is not a friend 🙂 ) is also a writer.

You might think that this proliferation of writers amongst my circle would draw us tighter and closer together.  And it does, in a way, but in one particular area, it actually shows us just how different we are.  That area?  Inspiration.

I used to write based on inspiration.  I could even keep it going for a matter of weeks, drawing out that little drop of genius into half a book.  But that one drop wasn’t ever enough to write two halves, just one.  So I never finished a book. Then, recently, I decided to try the ‘perspiration’ side of writing.

As one of my favorite non-fantasy adventure authors says “You can’t wait for inspiration: you have to go after it with a club”.  And using a club means a great deal of work.  I plunged into my writing with the idea that I was going to do it like professional writers did.  I’d write whether I wanted to or not.  I’d edit it harshly, not paying attention the lovely little foibles I was so fond of.  I wouldn’t set myself a deadline, but I also wouldn’t treat it as a hobby, one that I could linger on as long as I liked.

I kind of expected it to be boring, to ruin my love for writing.   What it did was just the opposite.  I used to enjoy writing, but I was always terrified whenever I saw it trailing off into uninteresting, uninspired places.  Now, I love to write.  I’m never worried about losing interest.

I know, for some reason, that inspiration isn’t vital anymore.  I make myself write, even when I don’t want to and, sometimes, those first few hesitant sentences are just what I need to kick me into gear.   I don’t have a deadline, but I know I could make one if I wanted to and that my writing wouldn’t suffer for it.  Edits?  They don’t scare me like they used to.  I know that, no matter how much they hurt, my writing will be so much better that it’s unrecognizable.

Now, my friends?  They still use inspiration.  One of them is a much better writer than I am.  She’s finished three or four books and has published them already.  But our methods are drastically different.  Inspiration works very well for some people.  But you might just be one of those people who does better when they use good old perspiration.   And your name doesn’t have to be Edison.

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