I have a little compilation of shitty advice and information adults give to kids.
Gems such as:
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Bitch words hurt the MOST so hush.
“Do as I say not as I do.” Yeah good luck with that, children are mimics.
“Good things come to those who wait.” No, good things come to those who go out and get them. Or ask for them. Or whatever. But waiting just gets you piles. And makes you hungry.
When it comes to writing a book, possibly my favourite piece of shitty advice is this one:
“Write when you’re inspired.”
Um. NO. If you follow this absolutely horrible and terrible advice that won’t die, good luck with your book because it’ll never happen.
The Inspiration Complication
The idea of inspiration arose sometime when the ancients were taking loads of psychadelics and having visions, and believed in muses and divine inspiration and all that jazz. It is nonsense.
Inspiration doesn’t come from some magical being outside of us—although it can sometimes feel like that. I know I’ve written stuff in the past, or had ideas, and just thought WOW WHERE DID THAT COME FROM AM I GENIUS?
But it came from me.
All your good ideas come from you, too.
That’s not to say we’re all massive geniuses; or not. Who am I to say who is a genius? I’m saying that inspiration comes from what we do. What we read. What we learn, who we talk to, what we watch—and the connections our brains make between all that stuff when we’re not looking.
Waiting for inspiration is an excuse. If we want to write a book, we need to sit our arses down and do the damn work. Sorry.
As Somerset Maugham (a moderately famous writer you may have heard of him yes?) said:
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
The Motivation Myth
Inspiration’s cheeky sibling, motivation, is also waiting around the corner to trip you up.
It whispers at you that you must be motivated in order to write. But it lies.
That’s not how this works. It’s not how any of this works.
The truth is, we do stuff—then we’re motivated to do it more. Then eventually it becomes a wonderful habit.
I know it sounds back to front, but it’s not—try it. Next time you’re struggling to pick your butt up and write, treat it as an experiment. Get up, and write—just 250 words—and see how you feel.
I bet you all the things in my pockets (currently a (clean) tissue and a pencil sharpener) that you feel motivated to write more. Or at least more motivated than you did before you started.
See? That’s how this works.
And if all else fails, remember this: if you want to write a book, you have to actually write it. There’s no substitute for putting the work in.
But the reward?
To sum up:
- Inspiration comes from inside us not from magic. Go out and make ideas happen.
- Motivation is a myth. We do, then we are motivated to do more.
- If you wait for inspiration to strike before you start writing you will die of old age before you write your book.
Now go forth and write.
One good piece of writing advice?
Ask for help.
My 6-month Creative Book Coaching Adventure is open for new writers—if you’d like to work with me to get your book written and maybe even published by Christmas (this Christmas, 2022, not years away)—apply here.
Or book a call with me here and we’ll talk.
Notes in the Margin
Sign up below for regular emails on creative writing, indie publishing, and the wonders of books.