Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Thomas Edison
Maybe most of you have already seen or heard this quote. And yet, the idea of the lonely, toiling writer persists, which is not to say that writing is either hard or easy work, but instead that it takes concerted effort. After all, writing consists of writing and re-writing. Until, what you want to say, comes out right. So why not create a habitual routine? Why not, find a way to get better incrementally? How? some of you might ask. Well, the method is clear. Develop a writing routine and do your best to stick with it.
For some, the idea may seem stifling, or even restrictive. How do I know? you ask. Well, more specifically, I’ve been there. Done that. Busy staring at a piece of paper, waiting for inspiration. Or the muse to strike. Some days it came. She came. Placing something that seemed like a grand idea inside my head. Something that would get me going hop-pity skip, along a merry trail. Other times, she remained absent. Looking back now, I can recall those ideas that were carried through to completion, while others died on the page, suffering either from a lack of clarity or overkill, where I tried to make the story do what I wanted it to do, rather than listening to what the characters had to say.
The beauty though would be those that would bear new fruit. Those that in going over, would lead me to another more skilled creation. Looking back now, I can see that in my own infancy stage as a writer that one of the most important things that I lacked was a regular writing routine. Truthfully, I would wait for the story. Or come up with some brilliant title and then try to write around it. Not that there is anything wrong with either approach, because sometimes an idea might come in stages and other times it might be the whole. But take time, write it down. Get yourself accustomed to some sort of rhythm when you create. Say you grab a beer or a cup of black coffee and then settle down to write. Say, for an hour or two, between five to seven, after you’ve come home from work. Or if you do this full time, say writing early in the morning and editing in the afternoon.
Either way, let your schedule be something you create for yourself, rather than something that is imposed on you. Put aside a block of time each day, only for writing. And when that time comes, you do nothing but work. Write. Even if at the end of it you only get down one good line. A paragraph or a page. Work all the time you work. Write all the time you write. And keep it. Even if the words don’t jive with you afterwards. In a week or two, something in it may seem salvageable. Or be exactly what you were aiming for.
And finally, try your best not to think of this block of time as regimented work. Free your mind. Allow yourself to be creative. To write without qualms. Yes, open yourself up to seeing things differently. With fresh eyes. Eventually the right words will come, with or without your help and you will learn that being a more disciplined writer is about allowing yourself the freedom to create.