“Inspiration is for amateurs.”

Or so says the artist Chuck Close.  And even though I spent half the morning staring out the coffee shop window, hoping the divine spark would fall out of the sky and land on my head so that I could figure out how to write the scene I’m working on in my newest novel, I absolutely agree with him.  

I have had entire books that seemed to spill out of my pen, inspired by whatever muse is in charge of such things, and I have had entire books that were pulled one drop of blood from my flesh after another, and while I like the “spill out of my pen” process better than “pull one drop of blood from my flesh after another,” on reading the works in question, you would have no idea which is which.  It’s not as if one process yields a better result than the other.   And you learn a great deal about the craft of writing from the tough slog of writing even when you don’t feel particularly inspired.  That’s why I have always believed it’s a mistake to think that you should wait for inspiration to strike before writing.

Does that mean you should force ideas before they’re ready?  No.  It just means that you should sit down every day and write — and not just write, but write with the purpose of making progress toward a goal: to finish an article, to polish an essay, to respond to a writing prompt, to draft a scene in your novel.