Monday, August 1, 2011

How to Deal With Inspiration

And you thought Monica Lewinsky was scary...

Oh sure. The life of a writer is all fun and games, a creative laugh riot. Inspiration comes easy, wearing pajamas and carrying a silver platter stacked high with the topic du jour, and all the heroic scribe needs to do is hover above the plate, whereupon something witty and profound will fly to his hand, cheating certain death-by-a-thousand-keystrokes. Yeah, that’s how it works.

No, it doesn’t happen like that. Hence this post. This is why I’m writing about what a bitch it is to write. The muse isn’t just a harsh mistress. Sometimes she’s Hillary Clinton in jackboots and a patent leather negligee, brandishing a large cigar in one hand and a cat o’ nine tails in the other.

But the show must go on. That’s not just some fancy witticism from the halcyon days of Broadway. It’s the truth; and it’s also true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That goes for especially vivid metaphors as well. Me, for instance, writing about…all this…even though I don’t really know what I’m trying to say, is an example of a guy just pressing on. Listen: writers, you’ve got to find a way to push through.

Not every day is a Hello Kitty kind of day. Sometimes you’ll sit to write and you’ll have nothing. But you write anyway. Don’t you. That’s what makes you a professional. If you don’t write through the painful times, the hard times, the times when inspiration isn’t fancy or even wistful but mechanical, peach sherbet-colored and horrid, then you’re just a hobbyist. That, by the way, is how the IRS classifies writers. You’re either making enough money to be a professional, or you’re a hobbyist. But, I argue, such a mindset applies in ways other than the strictly monetary.

In other words, and to use a coaching term, have you got heart? When it gets difficult to go on, and you’re clearly on a plateau physically or even mentally or emotionally, what do you end up doing? Do you throw up your hands and collapse into whatever’s comfortable? Or do you crack your knuckles and grind out 500 words on the laptop just so you can tell it who the junk is running the show around here? It’s cliché, but games are won and lost in the second half—which is also usually the most difficult because your opponent has got you figured out by then.

This week’s random Monday post is for all the writers who’ve got something that’s keeping them from ratcheting up the pressure on that manuscript, telling it what happens next. People who are up against deadlines. Writers who have a lot going on in their personal lives. Creatives who are struggling with all kinds of other work they’d rather not be doing, but work that pays the bills nevertheless. You’d be surprised that it doesn’t take much, though, especially after that initial step.

Look at that. 500 words. Kinda. It may not be pretty, but it’s on the f&^%!@n’ page. And that means Hillary can get the hell out now. But she’d better leave my damn pantsuit; I paid twenty dollars for that, and I ain't just giving stuff away for nothing around here.

No comments:

Post a Comment