As someone who writes for a living — we’re talking producing, editing and publishing tens of thousands of words every week — there’s one question I get all the time:
How do I do it?
More precisely: How am I able to just sit down and let the prose flow off my fingertips, onto the keyboard and into the open document in my word processor?
It’s a difficult question for me to answer for a few reasons. First, everyone’s writing style, habits and starting point will be different, as will their experience and/or educational background in this area. Second is the fact that, just like singing, dancing or any other creative pursuit, certain people have “it” — a repository of innate talent — that allows them to perform at a higher level than everyone else.
Third, and perhaps most importantly of all, is the realization that great writing is about hard work. In my experience, that unavoidable commitment is the deal breaker that scares most wannabe scribes away. As much as we all want a shortcut to success, there really is no substitute for sitting down and putting in the time and effort to grow your skills through repetition.
Someday My Muse Will Come
In a world now irreversibly shaped by the chemical need for instant gratification, that commitment to countless hours of hard work is, to put it mildly, disagreeable. It’s much easier to sit down, jot down a few disjointed paragraphs and hope for a spark.
Something. Anything. A sign from a higher creative power.
I know this because I used to be a writer who sat and waited for that elusive “lightbulb moment,” a fleeting instant where my creative muse would descend from the ether and flip some kind of switch that would make the long, laborious process of writing suddenly make sense.
The bad news is that the concept of a creative muse as a mysterious, omniscient force that you need to rely on for the inspiration that fuels your writing is a hoax. I’ve spent years searching for it, leaving no mental or emotional stone unturned in the process and have yet to discover this force of nature that guides towards creative fulfillment — not to mention a polished piece that’s ready for…