Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. Life’s been a little crazy. Anyways.
Last semester, in my Creative Writing class, we read through A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. This one section we read really stuck out to me:
If Romeo and Juliet had made their appointments to meet, in the moonlight-swept orchard, in all the peril and sweetness of conspiracy, and then more often than not failed to meet — one or the other lagging, or afraid, or busy elsewhere — there would have been no romance, no passion, none of the drama for which we remember and celebrate them. Writing… is not so different—it is a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind. They make appointments with each other, and keep them, and something begins to happen. Or, they make appointments with each other but are casual and often fail to keep them: count on it, nothing happens.”
-Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook
This is So. Darn. True. If we don’t respond when our story asks to be written, it will eventually stop asking.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll get this “text message buzz” in the middle of my chest (figuratively, not literally) when I need to write. There’ll be this nagging voice saying “sit down and type!”
And here’s the thing: the more I listen to it, the louder it gets, and the easier it is to write. And the more I ignore it, the less I am compelled to write.
There’s a big discussion in the Writing Community about the soundness of the advice “write every day.” And while this advice is clearly not practical for everyone, the idea behind it is solid: writing should be a habit. It should be done frequently. It should be a priority (as much as it’s in your control to make it so).
I don’t want to be casual about my writing. I want to treat it like it’s important.
But sometimes, I’ll run into this issue: I’ll think about writing and then go, “nah, I’m not feeling the inspiration today. Maybe tomorrow.” But the fault with that argument is that inspiration is fickle, unreliable. It’s fleeting, here one day and gone the next.
I don’t need more inspiration for my writing. I need more commitment.
I’ll leave you with another quote, this one by Lin-Manuel Miranda (via his twitter feed).
And now, a daydream about inspiration. Inspiration is EXACTLY like getting a star in Super Mario Bros. Exciting, and super rare. You’re invincible for a short time. The rest of your time you’re breaking bricks, you’re navigating pitfalls, you’re living and dying. You’re doing the work. Star mode is not a substitute for skill, but if you do the work, you can maximize it when it appears. So I wish you star mode. And I wish you lots of hard work so that you know what to do with it when it strikes. That is all.”