How many of us have felt that inspiration invades us? That an invisible presence arrives unexpectantly, softly touches our head and suddenly a river of ideas comes, along with an uncontainable urge to write (or to compose music, to knit, to cook, to dance, etc.).
I was always skeptical when I read that inspiration didn’t exist, as some people claim, because I experienced it myself in different occasions. Sitting in front of the television, driving or walking down the street and all of a sudden… Surprise! I felt the need to write something and, if I had the chance of doing so, words came out easily, as if I had already written them and was just taking dictation. How can inspiration not exist?
Now that I have more experience in writing (far from being an expert), I think I understand more about inspiration. It’s not that inspiration doesn’t exist, or that we cannot take advantage of it to advance our work. What happens is that many writers (including myself from years ago) wait for inspiration to come to begin working.
We even see it in movies from years ago: a romantic couple where (most of the times) the man is a writer, of a book that never finishes and spends the days home, sitting in front of the computer, writing machine, blank paper sheet. And why? Because he has no inspiration and cannot write without it. Maybe those stories influenced the rookie writer that I was in believing that you can’t write without inspiration; we stay waiting far away from the blank page wishing for the muse to come, so that we write hundreds of pages overnight to finish the work in progress.
I got used to sitting to write, regardless of feeling like it or not, at least once a day or every other day. And the exchange is very simple: the more you do it, the more you advance. Sometimes I write just one line, sometimes entire pages, but the importance of the exercise is getting used to having an exclusive moment of the day for you to write. Certain wonderful days, it is as if the inspiration muse is sitting right next to me and I write plenty. I think all of us who write, regardless of the type of text, have areas in which we struggle. I find it easier to write dialogues and they seem to come faster, compared to making descriptions of characters or places. It is common for me to write sections with dialogues way faster than one with descriptions, but sometimes inspiration comes and my head is filled with images and details to describe a place that will make the readers feel as if they were truly there.
Inspiration may also come in small quantities: with the exact word you were looking for, the perfect ending for the plot that eluded you, with the name of a character that feels right, with the temporal location of the story. We must learn to recognize the minor muses that visit our mind and help us advance. Not everything will be an explosion of motivation, small sparks can also start a creative fire.
There is a quote I really like about inspiration:
“Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy” (Tchaikovsky)
Inspiration must not me the engine, but the additional boost in our work. Seeing it this way has helped me to advance in my writing, because as they say: a bad written text can be corrected, but an unfinished one could remain abandoned for the rest of time.
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