Writing and Publishing

Why Writers Shouldn’t Wait for Inspiration

Professionals don’t need the inspiration to write; they push on without it

Sometimes I’m just minding my own business, not giving my writing a conscious thought when an idea pops into my mind—a really great one. Inspiration hits me like a lightning bolt. If at all possible I stop what I’m doing and write. Even if it’s in the middle of the night.

However, if immediate action isn’t an option then I scribble a note or add an entry to my smartphone. The last thing I want to do is push my vision aside, for it may not come back. I don’t want to risk losing my literary epiphany. It has happened.

But sometimes inspiration doesn’t confront me; the vision for what to say eludes me. What do I do then? It’s simple. I write anyway. Here’s how:

Deny Writers Block: At the risk of angering some of you, I have never had writer’s block. In fact, I don’t believe in it. What many people call writer’s block is really another issue in disguise: Fear of failure, fear of success, perfectionism, self-doubt, or some other neurosis. You get the idea. These things are real, but confront them for what they are, and don’t use “writer’s block” as an excuse. Then…

Just Sit Down and Write: Put yourself in a position to write. For me that means I’m in front of my computer, I’ve to remove distractions, and I expect to write. Then I start typing. If all else fails, type: “What I want to say is…” and then complete the sentence.

Deadlines Help: Deadlines are a powerful motivator. And if a publisher or editor isn’t giving you a deadline, give yourself one: a time, a date, or a word count. Break longer projects into smaller goals (so many words or pages a day) or milestones (completing a chapter or section). Celebrate each win. Postpone all other activities until you hit your deadline.

Allow More Time: It may take longer to write if there is no inspiration, but not always. I can write upwards of a thousand words an hour if I’m truly stirred. My normal pace is around five hundred. If I’m struggling, I know editing will take longer. We need to factor writing speed and editing efficacy into our schedule.

Keep an Idea List: I have several lists of topics and ideas for future writing projects: a blog post list, article ideas, concepts for short stories, ideas for content marketing pieces, and even book ideas. Some of these will never be used, but most will eventually materialize. I keep my lists ready. If I don’t know what to write, my list will prompt me. Many of my ideas come to me when I am writing something else. (The idea for this post and the next two all came to me, in lightning-bolt fashion, as I wrote last week’s piece.)

Through creative insight is wonderful when it happens, real writers don’t wait for inspiration to hit, they just write—whether they feel like it or not.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.