Top Nine Writer’s Rules: #2: Inspiration
18 June 2014
This the second of my Top Nine Writer’s Rules, a series of blogs with which writers, would-be writers and readers will eventually be able to build their own rulebook for writing, based on the words of authors past and the present.
Today’s theme answers a question familiar to any writer who has answered questions from an interviewer or reader: where do you get your inspiration?
The 10th tip is for you to provide…
1. JACK LONDON
‘You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.’
2. MARTIN AMIS
‘I’ve learnt not to force inspiration when it’s not coming… I walk away and read something else. This allows the subconscious to catch up. When I return to my desk, the problem tends to be fixed. Writing is more physical than people think.’
3. ANNE TYLER
‘It doesn’t take very long for most writers to realise that if you wait until the day you are inspired and feel like writing you’ll never do it at all.’
4. DON DELILLO
‘We stand around, look out of the window, walk down the hall, came back to the page, and, in those intervals, something subterranean is forming, a literal dream that comes out of daydreaming. It’s too deep to be attributed to clear sources.’
5. EDNA O’BRIEN
‘I have to read something beforehand. Very often it is a poem, or it can be a scene from Shakespeare that is absolutely dynamic and contagious in that it gives one a longing to write something that isn’t totally a dud.’
6. NEIL GAIMAN
‘Tell your story. Don’t try to tell the stories that other people can tell… Start telling the stories that only you can tell. There will be better writers than you… but you are the only you.’
7. V.S. PRITCHETT
‘Discipline yourself to the habit of writing. Write every day. Keep office hours. Inspiration comes from the grindstone, not from heaven.’
8. A.L. KENNEDY
‘I have a personal rule that I don’t argue with dreams … If you’re working all the time with that stuff and it comes and pokes you in the eye, you don’t ignore it because it might get offended.’
9. PHILIP LARKIN
‘I’ve always thought that expression was easy, but “inspiration” hard, but really they’re just the same.’
On most days, I post two short writer’s rules on Twitter. Hashtag: #writersrules.