Through the years, many people have said that the shower is where they do some of their best thinking. For me, some of my best thinking occurs in the car. You know, when you have a task you have to be doing, so you can’t really do much other than think thoughts in your head? I’ve often thought that if I could just get what I write in my head while driving typed out into the computer, my writing would be better, more clever, and much more efficient. Alas, typing while driving doesn’t really work.
Fortunately, I’ve found that the thing that makes me write isn’t driving per se, it’s having an “empty” time. That is some time where my brain can roam freely around a topic and create the words and sentences necessary for solid and, hopefully, interesting writing. Being able to harness that mental state is my key to writing professionally on demand.
Finding Your Muse On Demand
One of the most important abilities as a professional writer is the ability to write on demand. After all, you can’t wait on your muse when you have a deadline fast approaching. As it turns out, most people who write for a living enjoy writing. That means that inspiration, and your muse are frequent visitors. However, that doesn’t mean they just appear on demand. Staring a computer screen can often times be the worst possible way to summon your writing inspiration. Forcing your fingers across the keyboard when you just aren’t feeling it, is a recipe for stilted, uninspired prose.
So, how can you “make” your muse arrive.
I’ve found that I can artificially create that blank mental state in a place more conducive to writing. I’ve put an old leather chair, that has no real place in our house anymore, in my office where I do my writing. (Actually, it’s been there for a very long time, I just finally uncovered it by putting away all the piles of stuff that were on it.) When I’m not feeling the writing juices, I sit in that chair. I slouch down and close my eyes and let my mind wander. After a bit, I bring it around to the topic I need to write about.
Usually, the words start flowing in my mind, just like they do in the car, or in the shower. However, unlike those other times, when I feel I have sufficient wording floating around in my brain, I just get up, walk three feet, sit down and start typing. Of course, I never get exactly what was in my head down on the computer screen, but it’s usually close enough to feel good. If the words dry up, I just move back to the chair.
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When you have trouble making yourself write, try leaning back and closing your eyes. After a few minutes of blank mental state, see if the words start flowing. If not, consider whether you are really ready to be writing. Do you have enough information? Sometimes, it isn’t that you don’t have the inspiration, it’s that you don’t have the knowledge. Try some more research and then hit whatever it is that you use as a leather chair in your office and see if the words start coming then.
P.S. — If you end up falling asleep while trying this exercise it means you need more sleep. As an added bonus, falling asleep gives you that extra sleep. As a double-added bonus, chances are that if you are anything like me, you couldn’t have fallen asleep on purpose while you were worrying about writing. In other words, whether you nap, or you get inspired, either way, you win.