Here’s some good news. A dead muse can be brought back to life. When I started writing in 2003 I was on a roll. The ideas came faster than I could write them. I still have them all written neatly in not one but two books. I wrote about two short stories a week, could edit them without a problem as well. At the same time, I heard people talk about their own creative juices failing them. Their Muse was missing, they lamented. As far as I was concerned, the Muse was a myth—the excuse of the unmotivated writer. I know now, it is not. Idolize it, worship it, pamper it, plead with it, do what you will — but never ever lose it!!! And if you lose it, reclaim it as quickly as you can.
So here are a few pointers for those who write or strive to write.
- Lethargy is a big enemy. Idling away time is another big one. Recently with so many ways of socializing and staying in touch with friends, we have a thousand distractions especially at those moments when it’s not a great idea to be distracted. Earlier you only had a phone or a doorbell that rang. Now there are so many other things that go ping, beep and whir. And it’s oh-so-difficult not to make that one last comment on a post or send just one email before you wind up. I’ve tried my best to beat distractions. I’ve tried not to be lazy on most days. But the thing is, the more you focus on not becoming a victim to these vices, the more you succumb to the pressure. A few possible solutions –
a) Keep your things set and ready as soon as it’s possible. Seeing your computer on with the document open on it, your manuscript laid out on a desk with highlighters, pencils, erasers, post-its or your painting material just waiting to blend into a new masterpiece works like magic!!!
b) Write an agenda for every week and every day. Try and stick to it as much as possible. Remember on days when you’ve achieved the most success, the sense of satisfaction would be enough motivation to make such days happen more frequently.
c) Your networking time can happen during breaks. Work first, take your break after that. Spend just about enough time and then get back to work. Never ever tire yourself out with either of these activities though.
d) Routines are good most of the time. Just make sure they don’t become tedious. If you are easily bored then change them frequently.
2. Most writers started writing not because they wanted to be published. Most writers started writing because of their love of the written word, their need to express themselves or just to tell stories. In fact I feel most people have an inherent writer within, leave aside language skills and vocabulary. To find a channel to get your written material across to others, get in touch with those that are skilled enough to critique your work or even edit it for you, join a writing group. But at the end of the day, remember that you write because you need to write. You love writing.
3. To publish a book, you need more than just talent. There are so many other things that count. And good luck tops the list!
4. Remember all your friends can’t be trying to please you when they say what you wrote is good. There must be one or two that will have a thing to say about it if it wasn’t. And when they do, listen to them. Your critic need not be a writer either. Sometimes readers are better judges of a good book or a bad one because they just read to enjoy, they don’t read to judge.
5. If you feel the need to join a short-term workshop or writing class, ensure the credentials of the people conducting the same are in place. Just being an author does not justify one in conducting a workshop. Teaching skills are quite different from writing ones. I’ve been to an awesome, interesting and peppy workshop. And I’ve been to a miserably awful one. The latter took away every ounce of confidence that I had as an author at that point in time. So research them before you join them.
6. Even Virginia Woolf thought it was alright to ‘write badly’ says Danell Jones in her book ‘The Virginia Woolf Writers Workshop: Seven lessons to inspire great writing’. The thing is you learn from what you wrote wrong. One should never stop writing even if one thinks it’s not sounding good or going the way s/he wants it to. I’ve always realized that while writing longer fiction the first few chapters are what challenge every bit of determination and self-reliance one has. Once you are past that, nothing can stop you. So just keep writing. Don’t bother to look back once that’s done and keep those fingers tapping away on the keyboard.
And remember, the keyword is ‘enjoy’ !!!