Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hot and Cold

Why, oh why, is it not possible to write on command? Or, more precisely, why is it not possible to write well on command? I'm sure there are legions of writers who can do this, I humbly confess, I cannot.

I never know when inspiration is going to hit. Yesterday it hit half way through the afternoon, forcing me to run upstairs to my laptop and write feverishly. This wasn't an inspiration I was searching for, at least not consciously. It was just a case of something popping into my brain and me realizing it could put a whole new dimension into my WiP. More work. Huzzah.

Sometimes my writing improves if I sit myself down and force myself to write. It takes about half an hour, but my staggers will occasionally increase into a nice jog. Occasionally being the operative word.

I know if I'm going to be able to write; I've got ideas practically running out of my ears and leaking out of my fingers. I have to rush to get them down and each sentence moves quickly to the next and the next and the next. New plot twists germinate; some so far down the road that I have to make notes in my 'construction file'. It's a wonderful thing.

But then there are the far-too-common days when I can convince myself that spending a bit more time reading and commenting on blogs is never a bad thing. Of course there's time to check in on Facebook! I haven't checked my library record to see if that new book has come in; let's do it now. My writing? Yea, yea, I'll get to it.

You can't fake good writing. You can't fake a good plot or an interesting character. Or at least I'm not skilled enough to. I'll continue to use my 'down time' to do research or jot down odd thoughts and wait for the 'up time' to strike again.

With my luck, it will be just as I'm beginning to prepare dinner.


  1. I'm sure there are writers (and people) who can summons up the motivation to do - whatever - when they want it. Lucky people.

    I think the majority of us (myself included) are stuck waiting for the inspiration to strike. When it does, WOW do I get a lot done!

  2. I love when I write in the zone, but it doesn't happen often. Mostly it's slog, stagger, limp. And then start over.

  3. Crystal; I'm pleased there's another member of the club!

    Carol; The zone! Isn't it wonderful? But the starting over is always there the next day.

    Alan; Yea, I know, I know.

  4. Lately I've been "in the zone" but the rest of my life is going to hell in a hand basket. Where's the balance? Where's the balance!

  5. Sometimes my best writing comes when I'm not sitting at my computer staring at my manuscript. I'm mopping the floor and a great section of dialog comes to me. However, if I don't set down specific times to write, I'll never get it - or anything - done.

    Great insights here.


  6. I've been surprised to find (after all these years) that inspiration sometimes just happens if I sit own at the computer and put my fingers on the keys. So, I'm with Alan. BICFOK.

  7. Elizabeth; If you find the balance, can you let me know? Thanks SO much.

    Ann Elle; It does strike at the oddest times, doesn't it? If I can't get to a keyboard I try to remember a key phrase which, hopefully, will bring it back.

    Patricia; You're both very wise. It does work. I've taken your advice and it's certainly working today.

  8. Elspeth - If it's any comfort, I can't write well on command, either! Some days,my WIP goes speeding along as though I were possesed by a Muse, and some days, it lies there in torpor. I hate that! I would love to be able to write steadily each day, but like you, I am not always inspired to do it well. It doesn't help the steadiness of my pace that I have full-time job and other things going on, too. Still, I consider that any progress I make is good progress. Even it it's a sentence, that's more than I had the day before...

  9. This sounds suspiciously like my brain. Some days, it's toast. Other days, it all flows. Still others, it would flow, but I'm in the middle of a lesson at work. Timing!

  10. Margot; I think you've got exactly the right attitude, even one sentence is more than I had yesterday. But oh, I'd love to be able to turn on a switch and just have the writing flow! It would save so much time later on!

    Jemi; Timing is everything. Sometimes it's just wrong.

  11. Isn't always the case that the burst of inspiration comes when you are farthest from a writing implement?

    What amazes me about my writing partner is that she wrote the best scenes of our manuscript in the midst of cramming for medical boards and working w/ cadavors and so on. She said she had to make room in her brain for all that so the writing just spilled out.

    Lesson learned: If you want to be a good writer, go to chiropractic school.


  12. Elisa; Or work with cadavers. I vote a big no on that one. I guess I'll have to settle for being mediocre.

  13. If it hits when you're starting dinner, call for take-out and run to the computer. That's my advice!


  14. I have my bet ideas when in I'm in that twilight state between sleep and awake. Now, if I could just hook my brain up to the computer...

  15. Creativity can be a strange beast. Some days you might just not be feeling it. Some authors say, "Write through it" but what if you wait until the next day, when the muse strikes, and what you write is 20 times better? I don't know. I guess what you do is write through it and see if it gets better and if it doesn't, erase everything you've written. This is definitely food for thought!


Please leave a comment as I love to hear from you!