Like all writers, I hate waiting for my Muse to arrive. It seems like she’s always late, and either shows up at dinnertime or else manages to slip in the front door just before my eyes seal themselves shut for the night. And that’s if she shows up at all.
Otherwise, she gets on the wrong bus and ends up wandering around downtown somewhere. Or maybe her car broke down on the Interstate, or her GPS software is out of date already. Who knows?
One of the most inspired men of modern times, Thomas Alva Edison, said “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Some writing mentors and coaches say the same thing, but in a different way: start writing and you’ll become inspired. This week, we’re going to test out that theory.
I’m not giving you any set of words or even a scene to finish. Instead, you need to sit down at your computer or whatever you use to write, and just start writing. To begin the exercise, start by making a list of ten things. Whatever comes into your mind, whether it’s a grocery list or a to-do list, or a list of places you’d like to visit on vacation. When you have ten items on the list, then pick one and start writing about it. Ten minutes is all you need to do. It’s easy: you can spare that amount of time, can’t you?
The purpose of this is to get some of that perspiration out of you. If you can take care of ten percent of the perspiration, then you only have 89 percent left to sweat out before you become inspired. Seriously, getting started may be the most difficult part of any task. Every single term paper I write, and every online article, I get to a point early on where I think that I can’t get enough information for the piece to make it work, or else I don’t know enough about it, or I can’t think of an interesting angle. But then I write a couple of placeholder sentences — you know, boring sentences that just state something very basic. Usually it’s enough to break through the ice and get me started working. After a couple of paragraphs I manage to get into the groove.
That’s what you need to do. Get started, and push past the beginning doubts. Keep working. An idea will take shape. You just need to give yourself some time to warm up to the task. Good luck.