What I discovered on my way to the publisher’s.
The thing is, we don’t have to be geniuses to become successful authors. In fact, we don’t even need to be exceptionally talented. Don’t believe me? It’s true. What we need to be is focused and determined. That means getting up and writing every day, whether we feel like it or not. If that sounds dreary, that’s because it sometimes can be.
Let’s face, we all have days when, try as we can, inspiration just won’t come. Following, I have a short list of things I do on those occasions. Hopefully, some of these will work for you too.
The first is easy. Go back to the beginning of the writing you did yesterday, or the day before yesterday and start editing. I’m talking about just a superficial editing. The point is not to polish it up to publishing standards. More often than not, by the time you get to the end of your writing, you will be brimming with inspiration and typing away enthusiastically.
When going back a few days back won't work, you might have to go back to the very beginning of your novel. Now this, I’m telling you, rarely fails. You might even find yourself totally involved in the unfolding story and being amazed at how good it is. When that happens, it re energizes me and renews my commitment to the project.
Now, on the rare occasions when even a full re-read won’t start my creative juices flowing, just leave it for a little while. Please here note that I said ‘a little while’. That means, fifteen minutes, half an hour; not days and weeks. Go wash the dishes, sweep the kitchen floor. I've done some of my best writing while cleaning cupboards.
If even that doesn’t help, how about making a list of all the events that need to unfold in your story? For example, in my novel Scorpio Rising, I got stuck at one point and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to get beyond this block, so I started making the list.
Brigitte has to find out about Alex’s numerous affairs. Where will she be? What will she wear? Who will tell her? How will she react? And so on…I wrote down all the details.
By the time I finished this list, the scene had almost written itself. All I had to do was put the details in order.
As Thomas Edison so aptly put it, ‘Success is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration’, which should be very reassuring to us. It means we don’t need to be geniuses, or to be a medium channeling Shakespeare: we don’t even need to have any outstanding talent, to be a successful author. We just have to keep at it. Keep plugging away at it, because as Nike says, ‘just do it’.