“The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one’s life and discover one’s usefulness.” – John Cheever
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London
This blogpost, Writing Habits, discusses the way some writers can force inspiration while others wait for it.
I wonder if these habits correspond to the homework habit one had as a child. Some kid’s parents had them go to their room for homework during the same hours each day while some of us worked in study halls, restaurants, or in a noisy living room.
I find I work best with some noise. I write blog posts in cafes and papers with movies as background, I wrote my BA thesis while “watching” Lord of the Rings on repeat about 12 times, and my most recent paper with Holst, The Planets as background.
This post, Your Creative Practice Plan makes a good point for scheduling creative-time and writing it in your agenda or calendar.
Remember that writing is magic, that Odin sacrificed himself to bring writing to earth. Writing a task down increases its magical power, in other words, increases the chances that it will get done. I find I really need to give creating the same priority in my planner with exercise, laundry and shopping so it is just one more thing to check off. Large projects become a list of smaller tasks on a sticky note stuck in the date book. I know I have mentioned this before but this year, and most years, I am using the Daily Planetary Guide. I write tasks in on appropriate days based on what sign the moon is in, like outlining under Taurus or Gemini, research under Scorpio or Aquarius, and revision and proofing under Virgo or Capricorn.
If it is a big deal, like this quiz based on a textbook that I am working on right now, I separate it into tasks over a few days, like start on one day, outline and write 5 true/false(s) on another, etc. This saves me from procrastinating, waiting for the perfect, uninterrupted free-time. If I am not careful I will put off things I actually want to do, waiting for that elusive, uninterrupted, five-hour time slot that will never come.
I can’t force inspiration but I do court it.
I pay attention to the planetary hours on a daily basis and have apps on my phone and desktop that calculate them. I’ll make another post about them because they are so useful. They come around twice per day rather than twice a month or so like the moonsigns and so accurately describe what mood I’ll be in at any given time of day, for instance, right when I get that sense of, “OK, just get to it…”, I look at my phone app and it is Mars’ hour.
So, I usually divide something like warping a loom into measuring and tying on one day with beaming and threading on separate days. This keeps me from thinking it is one huge, involved task and also saves my back from hunching over too long. I like to keep frustration to a minimum so I will do the first part during a relaxing Venus hour and save the exacting threading for a Mercury hour.
All this infrastructure is ritual. It aligns me with the proper timing and flow of the Universe so that am not waiting for a fully-formed idea to come to me, all fleshed out and ready to be typed. I am making the time and space to become available to the muse. If I have a deadline and she is slow in coming, I’ll light a candle and invoke a deity appropriate to the problem, Ganesh, Hermes and Athena are usually helpful. Hermes gets ideas flowing but doesn’t help much with focus. Athena is a wonderful strategist for the process of building a project. Ganesh is an Indian god who is invoked before staring creative projects. He is the patron of scribes and wrote the Mahabharata with his own tusk. Isn’t that a great metaphor for the “need” to write?