Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Go after it with a club

If you are really serious about being a writer and making your living via freelancing, you will need to be able to force yourself to write when you don't feel like it. Deadlines wait for no muse.

Last night I was working on an article that was due, but that I didn't feel like doing. So I found this quote on my iGoogle page rather pertinent:

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

- Jack London

That pretty much says it all about writing. If you can't go after it with a club, if you are the type who has to wait to write until you feel "inspired," you are probably not going to make it as a freelance writer.

It's actually no accident when we feel inspired to write. Usually it's because we're thinking about something, and start getting all fired up about it as a result. So when I don't feel inspired, that can usually be rectified by finding the path of least resistance: by starting to work on a piece of the project that is relatively easy.

In this case, rather than trying to start with the first paragraph of the article (the hardest part for me to write, after the concluding paragraph), I compiled the quotes and facts I wanted to use into a rough outline. I felt a weak spark of interest, so next I started working on whatever section caught my interest first — even if it was smack in the middle of the article. Before I knew it, a half an hour had passed, and I was fully immersed in my work.

Having to do work we don't feel like doing right then is a fact of life for a freelance writer, just as in any other profession. Learning to control your muse, rather than the other way around, is one of the things that divides the successful writers from the wannabes.

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