Saturday, December 10, 2011

Writing, Inspiration, and Hobbits

Inspiration is a fickle mistress. Which may be thought by some to be a good thing, considering I'm married and all.

But seriously, the tough part about trying to consistently turn out a specific word-count quota is maintaining the frame of mind necessary to do so. Writers rely on their brains functioning on a certain creative level. Unless we want to become relegated to the "starving artist" class, we can't just sit at our computers waiting for inspiration to return from its vacation and possess us like a Charismatic Holy Spirit experience. Though when inspiration DOES strike, we are inclined to jump up and shout, "Hallelujah!"

But it's rare and fleeting.

In between these erratic bouts of painless creativity, we moan and sweat and sigh and labor. The very thought of typing one word sounds about as attractive as going on a date with with a serial killer. But unless we soldier on, that cursor isn't going to expel any words. The keys need our fingers, the fingers need our brains, our brains need the sheer will of knowing that it MUST write, and cannot rely on a muse to show up whenever we summon it.

For me it raises images of Frodo Baggins dragging himself up Mount Doom. He represents our project, exhausted, dragged down by the weight of all that is expected of it. But when he finally collapses, good ol' Sam Gamgee steps in and bodily hauls him up the steepening slope. Sam represents our will power and the knowledge that our project will never get done by itself. It needs that extra push, even if it is painful and exhausting and often downright irritating.

Huh. I like that imagery.

Excuse me while I head off to my word processor to save Middle Earth.


  1. Luckily, I'm one of those people that can work anywhere BUT I can't work if someone else is home. So, I only work when I'm alone... and I'm thankful that I don't worry about word count but about scenes. I try not to finish unless I finish a scene. Since I plan my books out, this makes me feel like I've accomplished something and leaves me knowing what will come next.

  2. Hi, Sonia! Thanks for stopping by.

    I share your inability to be productive with people milling around. Having a wife, two kids (another on the way), and a dog who can't seem to figure out how to shut up, home is not always the best place for me to write either.

    Planning a novel and writing it scene-by-scene is a very disciplined art. My hat is off to you. Myself, I have to be happy with snatching any opportunity to write whatever I can whenever I can. Perhaps someday, when/if things settle down, I'll take up the more systematic approach.