Inspiration vs. Perspiration

I haven’t written here in a while – thus the headline above. If you want to be a writer, waiting around for inspiration just doesn’t always cut it. There are periods when inspiration is easy and comes from every angle. Then there are times when you’re just flat out stymied by the whole process. What on earth can I write about?

Then it’s time for a little perspiration, metaphorically speaking.

I’ve just started reading and trying to get motivated by one of Julia Cameron’s books. She is most famous for “The Artists’ Way” series of books that I think came out in the late ’80s. The cornerstone of her advice begins with writing three pages of – well, whatever – first thing every morning. It should almost be stream of consciousness and can jump from one thought to the next. It’s not a journal, but rather an exercise in getting the creative process flowing.

So, today was Day One. And it worked! I don’t expect every morning to be as fruitful, but this morning it was easy to fill those pages. Part of it was asking myself why I wasn’t writing here, as a matter of fact.

The answer is that the whole concept of blogging is a new adventure for me. And this one has my name on it. It is supposed to serve the purpose, at least in part, of being a sort of portfolio of my writing. Consequently, while I think it’s important to make a stronger effort at writing here at least weekly as an exercise in putting down thoughts, it is not a private or anonymous forum for my feelings, struggles, worries, etc. This is not a journal.

So what is it? I guess it’s a place to practice my craft. To reflect on any topic I find of interest – within reason. I’m not going to share my thoughts on politics, religion or any other touchy subject. You never know who might read this, after all, and I don’t want to offend anyone – or reveal more about my personal choices and beliefs than is appropriate in this particular format.

That still leaves plenty to write about. I was thinking about how newspaper columnists have to come up with a new topic to explore every week. And I thought for some reason of the warm and wise late humorist, Erma Bombeck. This housewife from Dayton was so funny and made her mark making us laugh about the absurdity of daily life at home. She found humor in seemingly mundane topics like washing dishes, parent-teacher nights, pets and leaky faucets. She was brilliant! And for years she wrote weekly columns, presumably for her local paper, then as a syndicated columnist. To me it’s just remarkable that somehow she found fodder for hilarity in every day life and wrote about it week after week after week.

Anyone who thinks she didn’t accomplish that through very hard work needs to think again. I don’t know how she did it, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Erma was a queen of note-taking. Her livelihood depended on never letting the smallest nugget of “inspiration” go unrecorded. The dog needs to go on a diet. Where’s the funny story? You decide to order a cleaning product from an infomercial. Where’s the funny story?

You get the idea.

And so do I. So I think it’s time to dig around and find a little note pad that’s probably less than half full (heaven knows I have those tucked away all over the house) and start carrying it with me all day. It needs to sit on my bedside stand at night, and join me for coffee in my favorite chair in the living room each morning. In it I need to jot down every random thought that could turn itself into a little story.

When an inspiration lands on your lap with choirs of angels singing in the background – that is truly awesome. Who wouldn’t prefer it to the much harder work of digging for kernels of ideas that may or may not turn into vaguely interesting topics of discussion?

Sadly, I very rarely hear the heavens trumpeting the news: a topic of brilliance, wit and humor – suited in every way to my style and inclinations.

Guess it’s time to roll up my sleeves and make this happen, instead of whining about not knowing what to write.

One thought on “Inspiration vs. Perspiration

  1. Inspired, somewhat, by my Housewives piece on defining success in writing? I do tend to disagree that your blogging should not tackle political, religious or other touchy subjects. I understand, after all, you want people to like your writing and hire you. If they are turned off by your opinions, well, no deal. On the other hand, your opinions are controversial subjects may just be the thing an editor is looking for (okay, never mind). I guess the vocal minority has been pushing their opinions down my throat for so long, I think it is time to push back. Anywhere and everywhere I can.

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