I have a confession to make. It’s Thursday, and today I am struggling to honor my commitment/challenge to myself to blog twice a week, preferably on Mondays and Thursdays. Actually, I’m struggling to write anything. Life and illness keep getting in the way. I don’t feel inspired or motivated. I haven’t added any words to my novel in a few weeks. But I am compelled to keep writing.
“You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.“ ~~Junot Díaz
During this unmotivated period, I have been doing writerly things. I have consistently posted to my blog. I have maintained a presence on social media, I have been submitting my short story to journals and magazines for publication (please! someone like/buy “Dark Chocolate,” and soon!), I have participated in online critique groups, I have thought out my next scenes for two different novels. I have journaled regularly. I am a writer.
I know other writers must hit these phases when motivation and inspiration seem to run away and hide. If you do a search of “writing inspiration” on Google or Pinterest, more information comes up than one can possibly read. There are entire books written on the art, practice, and discipline of writing. My favorites include:
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- On Writing by Stephen King
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser
- Making a Literary Life by Carolyn See
- Write a Novel by Nigel Watts
When I fight this lack of motivation and inspiration, I often find myself swimming in “stinking thinking,” wondering if I’m too old, inexperienced, or untalented to even take on this new challenge. To cancel out the stinking thinking, I remind myself of two amazing writers who inspire me: Maya Angelou wrote her first book at 40, had numerous jobs, struggles, and experiences that influenced her writing. Helen Hooven Santmyer wrote her first and bestselling novel at age 87 in a nursing home. I often wonder what motivated and inspired these women to start so late in the game. I am over 40, but refuse to wait until I’m in a nursing home to publish my first book.
“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ~~ Neil Gaiman
Since I am a writer, I am sitting at the keyboard and putting one word after another. I do understand that some days I will write crap, but I also know that I can edit and fix crap. I have also learned that sometimes in the midst of the crap comes a unpolished gem. Today I feel like I’m writing crap, but I am honoring my commitment, and perhaps sharing my momentary apathy for the task will resonate with someone and encourage that person to just sit down and do their task at hand. As Calliope is off playing hide and seek with her sisters, I remember…
“When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.‘” ~~Maya Angelou
Now, off to work on my novel. What motivates and inspires you to create the art that’s occupying your imagination? Hey Calliope!! I’m writing…come play with me…