I used to believe that writing took inspiration, that there were only specific circumstances under which great words might come through me. I don't remember what exactly the circumstances were... but they were complicated enough that it didn't happen often. Thus, I didn't often have to write. Because, you know, I couldn't. Right?
More recently, I've had a realization. This realization was potentially driven by the fact that in the past two years I've been writing under much different conditions than I ever had before. I have publishing contracts, and therefore, I have deadlines. And it turns out that when you have a deadline, it doesn't pay to sit around waiting for the stars to align and for the fourth of the month to fall on a Tuesday, or for your coffee grounds to form a small bird when dumped on a plate. It really doesn't pay to wait for anything, because waiting is no way to get a book written, is it?
And so I was forced to write, muse or no muse. And it turns out that the muse is really just an excuse to NOT write. It's nice to feel inspired and feel like the words are meant to be, that you're writing something cosmically correct and preordained. But the truth is that if you have any talent for writing and storytelling, that talent should be there regardless of the conditions under which you call upon it.
I don't write well when children are standing at my shoulder whining about apple juice and snacks and brothers hitting them. But that circumstance aside, I've found that I can write at practically any other time when I really have to. That said, I've also learned that I write best early in the morning when there are no distractions at all.
So my advice? Ditch the muse. Tell her to take a flying leap. You don't need her anyway. And that writer's block you hear people moaning about? It's a fallacy. It's no more real than the sneaky little muse who makes herself so scarce.
You've heard it before, but it's the truth. The only way to accomplish writing goals is to write. Sit down and start, plain and simple.
I've still got two deadlines ahead. I need to finish a book by October 1st. I've got 6000 words so far. Think I can do it? The simple truth is that I must. So I will. But not if I sit around waiting for the muse or allowing procrastination to circle my desk wearing a shirt that says "writer's block"... Starting Monday morning, I'll be at my desk for an hour each morning before work, pounding out the words that will get me closer to meeting that deadline. Will you be writing, too?
What are your strategies for getting words on paper? Do you need a certain coffee mug, or a specific kind of music playing? How do you make it all happen?