Inspiration: The Art of Procrastination

Defining Resistance

I’m going to expand upon inspiration and muses in this unscheduled post outside my normal, Saturday morning posts.

At the end of my March 14th post, Developing Characters, Part I: Character Sketches, I wrote the following:

Inspiration is the desire to write, the will to write. These ideas that make it to the page are mine, based on my life experiences. They don’t come from some mystical pool of knowledge or some energy pockets floating around the multiverse or from that perfect layout of the writer’s desk with a tiny toy soldier shooting inspiration into me. They come from my brain. Writers write who they are. Once a writer becomes confident, they more easily tap into themselves. If you need that tiny toy soldier in front of you, that’s fine, but don’t let its absence stop you. In fact, take that tiny toy soldier, strap a firecracker to its back and be inspired by its destruction. (Again, more on this in a later post.)

Inspiration is you thinking. The only time I’m not really thinking about writing is when I’m on my stupid phone scrolling through the pit of posts on Facebook or deleting marketing emails—and, even then, I might be inspired.

It baffles me when writers attribute their skills and ideas to some external thing like there’s a Greek muse or some derivation of those muses that fuels their mind, drives their writing, refines their skills. Writers aren’t born. Writers work to become writers. And, it’s hard.

When I’m inspired to write, I have developed an idea in my mind through a process of looking at my surroundings and thinking about my life experiences. Sometimes this process is passive. A lot of times, it’s active.

Now, change the pronouns in that previous paragraph to read like this: When you’re inspired to write, you have developed an idea in your mind through a process of looking at your surroundings and thinking about your life experiences. Sometimes this process can become passive. A lot of times, it’s active.

Heck, I look at my desk, and I see nothing but inspiration because everything on my desk holds a moment or moments in my life and is connected to the people in my life. From my coffee mug, to the stainless steel Zippo lighter (that one has a lot of memories), to the eight-foot folding table that is my desk, everything has memories and could be a seed of inspiration for a future scene, chapter, short story, or novel.

If you feel you need to be inspired to write, get that wisp of energy, or that perfect idea or bit of dialogue to write, and you won’t write until that moment comes, you’re procrastinating. Steven Pressfield, in his book The War of Art, calls this “resistance.” And, here’s a post on the same topic from his blog that focuses on a specific aspect of resistance. Pressfield has a great number of posts on this topic.

Writers resist writing all the time. Relying on inspiration is resistance.

Author: Chuck Lang

Chuck Lang is a writer of science fiction and horror. Influenced by his years as a carpenter, four years serving in the US Navy, and his fifteen years teaching literature, he holds an MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Lindenwood University. After completing his first manuscript, the supernatural horror novel DEAD GODS, in 2019, he has begun work on its two sequels, DEAD GODS: INHERITANCE and DEAD GODS: RESOLUTION. He is currently developing two additional projects, an urban fantasy horror novel and a military science fiction novel. He lives and writes near the frequently flooded Red River in Fargo, ND with his wife and two redhead sons.

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