This is not an original idea. I’ve heard it before somewhere, probably several somewheres in fact, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give it my own spin. The title says it all: Inspiration is for amateurs.

I’m speaking here as a working writer. The majority of my income now comes from pulling words out of the ether and forming them into sentences (usually coherent ones at that). Frankly, if I waited for “inspiration” or even just “the right mood,” then I wouldn’t be able to feed myself. Given the choice between re-watching Caddyshack or slogging through an article, that little gopher would win every time. 

So I’ve had to find other ways of getting the words flowing. A good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast both go a long way. A cup of strong coffee is nearly essential. (Caffeine is my creative drug of choice.) A tidy workspace is also a must. But even in a perfect confluence of all these factors, there’s still lazy ol’ me at the center of them. So writing actually comes down to just one thing: time management.

I was recently speaking to a friend with a journalism degree. He owns a local bar. Before that, he was an English teacher (I think). That journalism degree wasn’t directly useful to him because he wasn’t especially interested in working for a large media outlet, and he felt he didn’t have the discipline to be a freelance writer. It requires too much organization, too much management of time, and possibly even the delays of gratification. As both an editor and a freelance writer, I can say from experience that there can be a long time between when work is completed and when the checks start rolling in. It requires the ability to manage one’s time, often weeks or months in advance. 

So inspiration is lovely, and it definitely sells self-help books and airy-fairy “How to Write a Bestseller” seminars to wannabe writers. Meanwhile, working writers don’t have that luxury. We’re paid for words, not inspiration. So my “writing” friends fall into two categories in my mind: aspiring writers and working writers. The aspirants may be wildly talented, but rely on the muse for that talent, and thus I rarely read anything by them. Mostly because there’s so little to read. On the other hand, working writers always have something on hand. It may not blow my hair back or get me hot and bothered, but it’s there. It’s manifested as a thing. Thus according to what I call “the buckshot writing method,” write enough words, and there is bound to be something good in the pile. Find it. Do more like that. Rinse. Repeat. Take a nap. Repeat again. That’s a working writer. 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This