The Prompter Room

For Monday, April 18, 2016:


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

Jack London

“Your mind will answer most questions if you relax and wait.”

William S. Burroughs

How’s that again?  One says one thing, the other says something else.

Two thoughts … First, remove ‘with a club’ from London’s statement and I think you’ve got a better piece of advice.  Go after inspiration, indeed, but my experience is that we can be relaxed about it.  Up to a point anyway.

In his famous tome On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King tells us that ‘Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and get to work.’  Sometimes – in my experience, at least – our work is to get out of our own way, which means sometimes we just have to relax.  If we’re too intent on looking for inspiration, we may miss it when it floats by.

This happens in other parts of our lives, too.  Surely I’m not the only one who forgets a word or a thought or idea and struggles to retrieve it from my brain.  When I focus on something else, though, it usually comes back to mind.  It may take a while or only minutes, but I’ve learned that the word or idea I’m waiting for reappears in some form or another.  It always shows up in a way that leads me to the original, and sometimes it’s even better.

As writers, we have different processes.  This is what works for me.  You may approach the work of inspiration in another way entirely.  It’s always fun, of course, when that exciting ‘ah ha’ moment happens, but we still have to be in its path to recognize it.


2 thoughts on “The Prompter Room

  1. Sometimes I have no choice to wait. I start writing and sometimes the words spill out other times no matter how hard I force nothing happens. But if I go back to those few words later a masterpiece.


  2. I wait for inspiration, which comes with regularity. I. Pay. Attention. To all that’s around me. All the time. I’m simply that kind of person.

    As for clubbing, I get London’s meaning, I think, it’s his way of saying get off your butt and get aggressive with it – don’t wait for it to come to you (like King’s quote, more or less). If inspiration is difficult, get out. Take a hike. Connect with people – in a cafe, through blogging, whatever.

    I’m in a Renshi poetry group. The basis of Renshi oversimplified is to take the last line of someone’s poem and begin yours with this line. I find this extremely inspiring. I’m often able to write something on the spot which needs little editing afterward.

    Aloha, Genie! Keep up the good blogging!


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