Saturday, 31 January 2015
Inspiration or Perspiration?
So here we are, almost the end of January, and I have probably spent my heating allowance at least 20 time over. The price of oil is supposed to be lower than at any time over the past few years, yet I am spending every penny I earn on keeping warm enough to earn the money to spend on keeping warm. Paradoxical world.
As writers, we are often asked (well, I am) how the creative process of writing a book happens. What I think people desperately want to hear is the apocryphal Enid Blyton response on the lines of: I just wander into my little writing place, and suddenly, all sorts of lovely characters and plots tiptoe through the mental bluebells straight into my mind fully formed, and all I have to do is write them down and hey presto! a book appears. In other words, writing is easy and you, interested interlocutor, could easily do it too.
Sorry, it doesn't work like that. At least not for this little duck. In another of these paradoxes, I find that creativity only occurs when disciplinary structures are applied. Rigorously. In other words, I have to make myself sit at the keyboard, regularly, and write. I can fantasize about the book all I want, imagine the amazing prose that I will write when I get round to it, but until my rear end and the chair are brought into contact, and remain in contact for long periods of time, nothing creative happens.
Sure, there are moments, and flashes of inspiration, when one stares at the screen, and wonders whether the Writing Fairy has just made a house call, but on the whole, these episodes only tend to emerge out of a period of just slogging away at the writing process. And I should know, having just topped 70 thousand words of the next Victorian novel, purely by dint of making myself sit down at the eMac every day and write it.
An article in the Guardian some time ago lifted the lid on how to be a successful author. No secret, sadly. A lot of labour and a bit of luck. Heavy on the former. As Wm Blake remarked: Without contraries is no progression. Ain't that the truth!
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a-men, to all of that, m’Lady, Carol:):)ReplyDelete
Hard work Carol but all worthwhile in the end. Keep soldiering on Ma'am!ReplyDelete
Aye, pet. Doesn't matter how talented you are if you don't put the hours in. You're so right about the discipline bit. I get all my wonderful ideas when I'm actually sitting at the laptop writing stuff, not when I am wandering around Twitter, so I'd best get back to that research and note writing!ReplyDelete
Having said that, it doesn't matter how many hours you put in if you haven't got any talent. The two factors need each other.
This is why I'm not convinced about the 'I have a degree in creative writing' writers! Don't think Shakespeare or Austen had one.Delete
Carol, I just shook your hand! You can't teach talent. If it ain't there, no amount of sitting in a classroom and diligently sweating over your exercises is going to give you it. You can either write compelling stuff that makes people want to carry on reading, or you can't. The mechanics you can iron out once it's been established that the talent is there in the first place.Delete
There's rather a lot of perspiration around here!ReplyDelete
Still too early to tell if I am any good as a writer or not, but love doing it, so practise (and sitting down with a pen in my hand) will get me there...ReplyDelete
My writing process is laboured by my rarely being satisfied with anything I write! I beat myself up constantly and have notes, etched in tantrum, sprawled all over the coffee stained surface of my little desk, each scribble awaiting the attention of calmer moments. I recently moved my desk near the window in my writing den (ok,bedroom!) 'cos inspiration lies everywhere and I was curious to see what the street below would chuck at me. Unfortunately, as I was in mid-think and wearing the gormless, vacant face that accompanies such thinking, my new neighbour opposite, paused as she brushed her hair in her bedroom window, and instantly adopted an expression of concern when she spotted the mad woman with the scary eyes, gawping blankly into her own eyes from across the road! Next thing I know, she's a mobile phone in her hand and talking to someone whilst still locked in eye contact with me!! Anyway, I moved the desk and I'm now back in the corner where the police can't find me. As for you 'little duck', I admire your commitment and ability not to be distra.............ReplyDelete
hahahaha... I know all about our writing place and all I can say is ...Delete
Lynn, smiling at, 'notes, etched in tantrum' and smiling even more at the new neighbour across the road anecdote; Carol, your blog is always a good read. Inspiration without perspiration.Delete
This reminds me a bit of the comments I was making re my therapeutic writing. Someone said that they had done my suggested writing exercise in their head and hadn't come up with much. I wanted to shout, "Nooooo!" It's all about the pencil on the paper...or, indeed, fingers on the keyboard. It truly is magic when it works and there's no better feeling... well, hardly any better feeling anyway!!ReplyDelete
The only thing nearest was teaching a class when they GOT what you were telling them and were totally with you. That was magic too.Delete
I can't imagine being so disciplined that I could write a whole book. I have a hard enough time making myself write a book review. I read some authors saying that they dream about the plot for their next book and I often wonder how many people that happens to. It seems like a great gift.ReplyDelete
It is definitely a lot of work - we take a spark of an idea and have to analyze it to death to see where it can go heh.ReplyDelete
And even when you've written the magnum opus there are edits- and edits- and edits ...ReplyDelete
Oh the edits..mind, I like them,,it's that bit just before you end that makes me twitchy!Delete
First I'd like to say that I'd like a bite of the sofa pictured above with a cold glass of milk. With that out - I agree that it's the sitting and typing. Even when I do get a "flash" of inspiration, I seldom know exactly which direction it will take until the typing begins.ReplyDelete
The one follows on the other ..I think..this is why I never have pages and pages of planning... it would stifle the creative processDelete