Ever have a case of “writer’s block”? Nearly every writer claims to have experienced it. But perhaps it wasn’t writer’s block so much as it was a misunderstanding of the nature of inspiration and its place in the creative process. Many writers think the process consists of 1) getting a great inspiration, 2) then writing, 3) then publishing, sharing and/or performing their work. But those who do sometimes find their muse missing in action.
If you’ve been waiting for the perfect inspiration to appear before writing a word, then stop waiting and just write! Composer, pianist, and conductor Leonard S. Bernstein said, “Inspiration only knocks. Some writers expect it to break down the door and pull them out of bed.” That “knock” can come at any point during the creative process.
In reality, the creative process involves seven phases:
1) Identifying something you want to share: You don’t have to start with a big inspiration. You might start with only an emotion, an image, an analogy, an observation or a sensation you want to convey.
2) Preparing to write by gathering your tools: Pen, paper, computer, notes, writing exercises, coffee, you name it—whatever you need to start. Just gather them quickly and get going.
3) Implementing or “doing” the art: Letting your creativity flow, working your writing muscle—preferably without stopping to critique your work. Don’t allow your writing muscle to get flabby while you wait for your muse to show up! Frequently, inspiration arrives during this phase.
4) Evaluating: Examining what you’ve produced so far. Getting someone’s feedback. Using the suggestions that feel right and disregarding the rest.
5) Incubating: Stepping away, putting your project on the back burner and letting your subconscious work on it a while.
6) Modifying: Revising your work as needed. Editing, tightening and fine-tuning. This is where the real work usually occurs.
7) Completing and celebrating: Cutting the apron strings and getting your baby out there. Sure, send it out dressed appropriately, but don’t let perfection get in your way.
Inspiration can occur during any phase of the creative process. And the process isn’t always this orderly. Don’t wait until your muse shows up, just write!
I’ll polish your prose and make your writing shine!
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