I don’t want to be the bringer of bad tidings... No... Wait... I quite enjoy being a snarky old moo... The point is this:
If you want to be a writer, there’s no mileage in waiting for inspiration to turn up. For a start, it can be a very long wait, and, b), inspiration is like a flighty lover: even if he does arrive, you never know how long he’s going to stick around for.
The best you can hope for is that you are already sitting at your desk or your laptop, working, when inspiration strikes.
So, just to be on the safe side, it’s better to be working pretty much non-stop. Of course, the advantage to this philosophy is that you can spend lots of lovely time honing your craft, developing your skills, making your workspace a jolly nice place for inspiration to visit, making it a delightful prospect, an alluring space in which he might just choose to loiter for a while.
The reason that Picasso could make art with a line in ten seconds flat was because of the twenty, thirty or forty years he spent practising. The reason any artist’s, any writer’s output varies is because the craft must be honed, and, after that, there’s no accounting for when inspiration will strike, or where the fairy dust will fall.
About this time, you might be wondering what the hell I know about it. I sometimes wonder that myself. So, I’m going to remind you that when you buy my first published novel, I will have been writing, practising my art, honing my craft, and at the irregular beck and call of inspiration for twenty or thirty, or even forty years, depending, of course, on when you count from.
My problem isn’t that I’m a writer who doesn’t write. My problem isn’t that I’m a storyteller with no ideas for stories, and it isn’t that I’ve been sitting on my hands waiting for inspiration to strike. Mostly, my problem over the years has been confidence.
Confidence isn’t a modern problem. Everyone now believes that they’re perfectly capable of doing whatever the hell they set out to do. I admire that. I wish I’d had a little more confidence a long time ago.
Can I just suggest that confidence is a useful tool, but that there really is no substitute for a job well-done, and that means getting on with it. Now... off you go and make something wonderful.
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