‘I’m against schedules. Write when you feel excited by the prospect.’ (Rick Moody)
‘Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.’ (Isabel Allende)
Who are we to believe? Those who make a muse of ‘inspiration’ or the grafters who turn up at the writing desk, rain or shine, like bank clerks to their counters?
Last year when I began work on my novel I joined the write-whether-you-feel-inspired-or-not school of thought, believing that if I waited for inspiration each day, I may never write at all. At least if I ‘showed up’ and didn’t like what I wrote, I could cut it later.
Sometimes ideas need to be caught before they fly off again, as Elizabeth Gilbert describes in this wonderful part of her TED talk: here (Thanks Mari for the reminder).
‘Showing up’ is the commitment necessary to make inspiration real. Without the grounding nature of routine, ideas, in my experience, stay floating, like untethered balloons. Last year, working on my novel occasionally felt dull or really difficult, sometimes both (!) but as long as I still cared enough about my initial idea, it fueled what I wrote each day.
I still subscribe to this routine although – I imagine, like anyone who makes things – I can only ‘show up’ if I already have an idea, not a plan of the minutiae of everyday writing but a bigger concept which carries the work through. (Short of a big idea, I’ll do something else for a while.) For when inspiration arrives, it becomes like a flock of birds moving in formation. The job, then, is to get that divine pattern down on paper, typing daily until it’s done (‘show up, show up!’)
Ideas are writing’s ink, its flow, the breath which supports movement. If there is ink in the well, the pen will find a way to keep on writing.
What part do ideas and ‘showing up’ play in your creative life? Please feel free to comment below…