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Inspiration is for amateurs

Anyone who has been following my blogs for a while will know that I’m part of an online community called Mi365. You may even be a Mi365er yourself and, if you are, the title of this blog will be familiar to you. It is an idea which we’ve heard a few times.

Those who haven’t heard this Chuck Close quote before, however, may be feeling a bit perplexed. “But surely,” I hear you say (I’ve got exceptionally good hearing!!), “being a writer is all about creativity and inspiration?”

In one sense, yes to write you need to be inspired and have a wonderful, exciting and unique idea which you can capture on the page. Of course it is. I have those A-ha moments where I suddenly see how I can create a fantastic scene or give my plot a really daring twist and that is absolutely a moment of inspiration. But the period before and after is the bit that matters and is what separates those who want to be a writer from your actual writer.

You see, in between those moments of inspiration is a whole load of hard graft. In my head the idea is wonderful – getting it written takes work, time, effort, lots of frustration and tons of re-writing. Getting to the point where the idea occurs to me is even harder. When you’ve hit a complete hole in the plot or you have no idea why any of your characters are behaving the way they are or if you are written into a corner and can’t find a way out – that is when the real hard work comes. Because that is when it would be so easy to give up.

Frankly, I’ve had times when things were going so badly that I’ve thought I didn’t know how to write at all – and, if that is the case, why am I bothering? I’ve put work aside in order to pick it back up when I’ve worked out how to take it forward (and some of it is still waiting…).

But – and this is the important bit – I’m still going. I make sure I write something every single day. I keep pressing forward with plots that aren’t working (they always come out of the tunnel in the end) and make sure I press on. Yes it is hard. But when the inspiration arrives it means I am ready for it and it is all the more welcome.

Because this is who I am. Writing is my Ikigai and, to use another quote:

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.

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