The Prompter Room

For Thursday, December 24, 2015:

 

“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time … The wait is simply too long.”

Leonard Bernstein

This was the hardest thing for me to learn when I started writing fiction.  I had grown so used to waiting for inspiration over the years and decades of writing poetry, I naturally continued that practice when I started my first novel.  No doubt that’s one reason it took 20 years to finish.

With the help – and prodding – of my writing mentor, I began to learn new ways to write.  It took a while, I confess, and trying more than a few methods – such as meditation, different types of music, dedicated times of day, going back over the previous day’s work, not going back over the previous work – but eventually I found that the best way was (surprise!)just to write.

As Robert Frost says, “The best way out is always through.”  An unattributed meme I found on Facebook from dog@computer puts it even better: “First rule of writing: Sit.  Second rule of writing: Stay.”  I didn’t have any trouble with the first rule.  It was the second part that was hard.  Once I figured out how to do that, I started to make progress.  At first it took some doing, and a lot of talking to myself, but eventually the ‘stay’ became as much a habit as the ‘sit.’

Even better: the moments of inspiration came even more frequently than before.  Sometimes it was only a word or two, sometimes an unexpected change in direction that made a big difference, but it happened often enough that I began to expect them.

I wasn’t waiting for inspiration to strike anymore before starting.  I realized I would have missed those moments of inspiration as they flew by, or drifted by, if I hadn’t learned how to stay.

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