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On Writing And Inspiration

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So I recently published an e-book I wrote three years ago. I designed a non-fiction writing challenge for one particular student at HoneyFern; the goal was 40-50,000 words of non-fiction in 30 days, just like its namesake contest held every November (National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo). I called it NaNoFiWriMo and decided to write along with her. We both finished, and, three years later, voila.

It is on sale right now. Go buy it. I have made approximately $50 so far, which fills the tank of the Cube and gets us a couple coffees and a muffin. Or a really nice bottle of bourbon. But I digress.

Writing is a dream for me, or a nightmare, depending on what day it is. I think this is pretty standard for writers, and I feel all of my worst traits come forth in my writing habits: procrastination, arrogance, self-doubt, etc. I am writing this blog right now to avoid writing another long-form article on the difference between osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. Which I guess is better than what I have been doing, which is surfing food blogs and pinning recipes to make in the fall. And thinking about a fried egg sandwich and maybe hitting the farmer’s market later.

But, again, I digress.

I have written ever since I could hold a writing implement. I love fine ink pens and new pads of paper.

I have discovered that as much as I would like to be a novelist, I am not a good storyteller on paper.

I am a passable poet and a good writer of non-fiction. Thankfully, I enjoy non-fiction and poetry and am happy to leave the novel writing to those people who do it so very well (and I am always looking for suggestions for new authors, so please leave some in the comments).

I am a terrible writing worker. My writing work ethic is awful. I have never missed a deadline, and I never will because my work ethic in general is very strong, but the pressure and stress of waiting until the last minute could be easily eliminated with just a little bit of discipline. I convince myself that I am not really undisciplined because isn’t everything part of writing? The reading, the daydreaming?

Yes. But still.

It is time to re-visit one of my favorite artists, Chuck Close, and his words on inspiration. He is such an amazing worker that he lets the proof stand out in his paintings. The grid lines are clearly visible in his portraits as a testimony to his process. So for this Sunday, for after I make breakfast, here are today’s guiding principles:

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

Have an inspiring and work-filled day!

Image by Andrew Moore

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