I gave my blogging group homework at our last meeting: have a private brainstorm session with yourself and list as many potential blog post titles as you can (at least 15). My purpose was to motivate production and to give them tools to do that. I also wanted to help them find direction to more clearly define their blogs’ theme and their audience.
They joked about getting homework: YUCK! And some balked at the number 15, but in the end, they accepted it.
Later, as I was thinking about the assignment, I realized it is relevant to all writers and that my follow-up should be posted here on the Nitty Gritty of Writing:
Writing requires discipline and practice. Let’s be honest, those things aren’t fun. They run counter to human nature. I write best when I am ignited with inspiration. It feels as if I’ve been spewed from my own body and picked up by the muse on her magic carpet and we are speeding around the world. What a thrill! My pen dances frantically across the pages of my journal and my soul giggles like a child. The stuff I write on these magic adventures is usually pretty good because it comes as a gift from Inspiration; I am just the lucky one who gets to present it.
But it’s not always like that. Such Inspiration is like having a date with God; the rest of writing is the nitty gritty stuff like all the nitty gritty stuff in daily living. Whether you like it or not, for example, you have to do the laundry and vacuum the floor. Writing is the same. In order to write well, we have to do it regularly, whether inspired or not.
DISCIPLINE. STRUCTURE. REVISING. PLANNING. PRACTICE.
None of these things come naturally for me! But what I have discovered is that they result in better skills and a higher quality product. This summarized the nitty gritty of writing.
So here is my point: do the homework even if Inspiration hasn’t yet arrived. Write to your prompts even if what you write is crap. Ask for Inspiration again and write some more, even if Inspiration is still elusive. Why? Because it is the act of writing that fertilizes the ground and truly welcomes Inspiration. Writing is your part in preparing the landing strip for the muse to alight. Prove to her that you are worthy of her presence, not by creating great stuff, but by creating.