Ever since I was young I wanted to write. I wrote my first story when I was six; however, when I look back over the following fourteen years, I don’t have much writing to show for so many years of life. It was mostly just a hobby and something easy to do that I was relatively good at. Even though I wanted to take my writing seriously, my writing habits testified otherwise.
A couple months ago I got curious about how many words of fiction/poetry I’d written. My count can’t be completely accurate, as I was only counting typed work, but the total came out to about 70,000 words. Some of my closest friends have written in the 1,000,000 word range–my seventy thousand words were looking awfully small to me.
In November I tackled NaNoWriMo for the second time. Starting NaNo, I knew I was going to do my best to reach the goal (I didn’t want to have a second attempt without winning), but…I really wasn’t sure I could do it. Not really, because I hardly ever write super consistently, and if I do manage some consistency, I don’t write very much.
No joking, NaNo was difficult for me. There were days I didn’t want to write, but forced myself to anyway; there were days when I didn’t want to write and didn’t; and then there were more days of zero-inspiration and writing anyway. In the end, to my own surprise, I made it, not because I’m an amazing writer or because I felt totally inspired to write all month long, but because I stuck with the goal all month despite that I did not feel inspired most of the time.
Through NaNo, I learned one of my most important writing lessons to date– Writing is not necessarily about being particularly inspired but rather about keeping goals and writing consistently.
I’m still working at putting this into practice, but a month of plowing through the uninspired days gave me a few a ideas on how to make this work for me. The biggest thing is that I need to write consistently, whether that’s every day or at least several times a week. I need to keep my goals whether or not I really feel like it. I now know that I can fall back on character introspection when I’m out of ideas, so on the uninspired days, I take advantage of my writing strength, and typically processing inside my character’s mind for a little while gives me some idea of where to take things next.
This isn’t to say that writing has nothing to do with inspiration, because that’s certainly not the case. Of course, my favorite writing sessions happen when I’m inspired, when I have words swimming in my mind that won’t let me rest until I get them out. Most often it happens when I’m trying to fall asleep at night. Rather than pushing the thoughts out of my mind until morning and then getting frustrated when I can no longer recreate them, I take the time to write when the inspiration hits, no matter if it might be somewhat inconvenient.
My first goal is to get my writing done. My second goal is to take advantage of inspiration whenever it comes. When the goals coincide, great! But when they don’t, I won’t hang around waiting. Now’s the time to get things done. :)
When do you feel most inspired to write? And how do you keep yourself moving forward when you lack inspiration?