Do You Wait For Inspiration Before You Start Writing?

Woman Writing

Or do you write and rewrite and edit all the time and strive to uncover the ideas hidden on the page? The first approach seems easy, but is good writing really effortless?

It depends on what you have to write. If it’s a poem, short story, or blog post, it’s easier to wait for inspiration. When the writing mood strikes you – whether it’s triggered by a creative flash, a line you read in some book, or something you see or do – you can rush to your desk and write as fast as possible, and you can finish before the magic fades, before the creative mood has left you.

But when it comes to writing longer works, like novellas or novels, can you really wait for inspiration? Inspiration is capricious, like a lovely lady who comes and goes as she pleases, who has moods, tantrums, and who, though you may love her with all your heart, you cannot marry because she will not have you. She comes only when better hosts are not available, which is usually not too often. (Do not blame her, it is her nature.)

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

— Jack London

Following my friend Jack’s advice, I try to write every day and find the inspiration on the page. It seems to me that the best ideas are the the product of the alchemy of the pen and paper – they come as I write.

Forcing yourself to write every day – even when you don’t feel like it – is a challenge. It certainly is for me. But in time you get used to it, and writing becomes a habit. When that happens you become less dependent on the whimsy Lady Inspiration.

Oh, she will come, don’t you worry, but only when she pleases.

 “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
– Agatha Christie

Do You Wait For Inspiration Before You Start Writing?



31 thoughts on “Do You Wait For Inspiration Before You Start Writing?

  1. I have pondered over this before and to answer your question, I do not wait for inspiration to strike. Sometimes one cannot afford to wait like while penning a novel, as you said.
    With me, ideas come and go, they change throughout the course of my writing. And so for me, editing and re-editing is the way to go.

          1. I do but they should be sharp. I don’t like blunt pencils unless I’m drawing. So yes, fountain pens are good, smooth and I love the cursive that flows from it.

  2. I’m hardly ever inspired. I dread every moment before I make it to the page. I’ve found that on the days I am inspired my writing turns out about the same as when I’m not inspired. If I don’t write I go crazy.

  3. I go to my desk in the room designated “My Office” each day as if going to a job, whether inspiration is there or not, but always in the hope of it. At the moment, I’m not writing anything new (apart from blog posts and poems) as I have to carry out the edits on my novel suggested by my beta-readers, but it is part of the no-pain no-gain scenario. And there are plenty of ideas floating around in my head for the next novel or two or three.

  4. I can’t wait for inspiration. I just got an idea and write and rewrite until I got what I want. Not fast, but I know will get there, eventually.

  5. I imagine a gun pointed at my head, and start writing.

    It not only works when inspiration doesn’t come, but also prepares you for downtown living.

  6. I write best when inspiration visits but I do try – mostly – to have the discipline to write every day. It’s not my paying “job” and so I often do more rewriting when I work to the taskmaster rather than the muse 🙂

  7. I can’t wait for inspiration – for me, it’s usually best if I just plod on, writing crap necessary, until my muse comes for another visit. I usually flag the “crap” in a different color font, so I can go back and rewrite. Losing momentum is a far worse fate, I think.

  8. I try to write everyday but I admit sometimes it’s such a task to even get one beautiful and meaningful sentence. And the other times as you said, when the Lady visits, words seem to flow out of their own accord. Sadly, she doesn’t like to visit often.

  9. I never WAIT for inspiration. I go out & FIND it. Good things don’t come by waiting. It often takes a lot of work to find pearls in a pile of mud…

    When it comes to writing, I usually just start without a plan or idea. Then things just go. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. But that’s also how I created my best poems that I never published, thinking I may put them in a paper-book one day…
    There are also days when a thought just comes to my mind, not being even invited. And I just know it needs to be written down. Sometimes my brain produces clever phrases… Sometimes.

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