–Dinty W. Moore
When I was younger, I thought that in order to be a writer, I had to be filled with exciting ideas every single day. I thought the Muse had to be my constant, loving companion in order to write something on a regular basis, helpfully whispering into my ear all the brilliant things I would write that day. Well, eventually I found out that the Muse apparently had better things to do than hang out with me all the time. I felt like she abandoned me for smarter, more exciting people. I was too boring, not worth her time. This belief caused me to give up writing for extended periods of time.
Was I happier when I stopped writing? Nope. In fact, I felt pretty lousy. After a while, I’d pick up my pen and start writing again. But I was stuck in the myth of inspiration, and when the ideas didn’t flow, I became frustrated and stopped writing again, caught in a vicious cycle of feeling lousy, whether I was writing or not.
This went on for many years. Finally, after ingesting many “inspirational” writing books that, ironically, told me not to trust inspiration, a light bulb went on. Just show up. Write words down. Any words will do. Do this everyday, if you can. After a while, when the Muse sees how dedicated you are, how serious you are about this writing business, that you’ll keep doing it no matter what without reward, maybe she’ll drop in once in a while and offer you a gem. Or not. Keep showing up anyway. Because in the end, it’s up to you. It’s hard work and no one else is going to do it for you, least of all some mysterious figment of your imagination.
I still feel lousy about my writing sometimes. But it’s infinitely better than feeling lousy because I’m not writing.