Content is king, but its creators can really run out of stamina when they have to produce it on a regular basis.
Which is always.
It can even lead to a mild philosophical disillusionment. Like, what has the world become? What have I become and what is my place in it?
Stamina has two ways of refilling (pun intended, but don’t listen to our friend Tyrion and reach for the bottle). Sometimes it needs to be put to rest for a while, and other times it just needs some reinforcement and inflaming with (no, don’t look for the bottle) – inspiration.
But hey, you and I are not alone in this. All writers (the writers of 1.000-page novels included) encounter the same problem from time to time. Maybe it is just another way for our muses to rework their imagination. Maybe the muses are just fond of throwing a good joke our way now and then. They are known to be witty and whimsical little creatures, after all.
Anyway, there’s one thing all of us can do: when you’re feeling unwell, get a quote. I mean, an actual quote. With quotation marks. Get it and read it. Even if it doesn’t fuel your imagination, it is bound to make you feel better in bad times by showing you that other people undergo the same sort of trouble.
So, here are my six cents for the day.
1. Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit. ~ Ernest Hemingway
Obviously, writing “A Farewell to Arms” and a 2.000-word blog post or a 10.000-word eBook isn’t nearly the same kind of experience. But notwithstanding the differences in length or a nature of a written piece, all writing processes are operated by the same type of brain cells.
Talent is a mysterious little bird. Whenever we dare to think we’ve got it, it breaks away from our grip, flies above our heads and drops a stinky, humiliating little batch on our forehead. (In some cultures it is considered a sign of luck – oh, the irony.)
And that is why we should never rely on talent, and never presume to have it.
On the other hand, discipline and hard work won’t betray us nearly as often. Which brings us to our next quote of the day.
2. If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. ~ Stephen King
There are many courses and articles which claim you can become a writer without having read a single book in your life, let alone written a sentence.
Honestly, I don’t believe them. How could we know what’s good if we haven’t seen thousands of things that are excellent, mediocre and downright bad? Reading sharpens our minds. It broadens the range of possibilities. It endows us with countless possibilities that an imaginative mind can rely on.
Writing a good copy is artistry. Of course, it’s a highly commercial activity, but it nevertheless requires excellent wording skills. The better the copy, the less obvious will be its salesy side and purpose.
So, train to be an artist.
And then carve out your artistry and make it sell things.
3. Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money. ~ Virginia Woolf
This quote is cynical as much as it is true. Have you ever had that feeling that the money you are making with writing actually defiles the writing itself? Hello, my friend.
The only consolation for me is that Virginia has also noticed this sad fact. Well, if she was able to cope with this fact (and cope with it brilliantly), I will too. Especially considering the fact that I don’t intend to write the next Mrs. Dalloway. (But hey, maybe I’m becoming Mrs. Dalloway?)
4. One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple. ~ Jack Kerouac
The quest for the perfect word is among the oldest quests in the world of writing.
Gustave Flaubert, the greatest perfectionist who ever lived, institutionalized the term “le mot juste”. Language is rich, but the only way to master it is to grow capable of finding the one right word there is among thousands of those that are “just fine”.
Imagine Flaubert’s struggle when he had to find not one or ten, but one billion right words that his average novel is composed of. For all words are important. You cannot discriminate ones against the others.
And the best ones are – simple. Our mind omits them. In its struggle to see through complicated concepts, it jumps over the simplest ones.
5. I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. ~ Douglas Adams
Deadlines are a paradoxical phenomenon. They force us to measure our every step. They annoy and upset us. And yet, if it weren’t for them, hardly any job would have ever got finished.
OK, tight deadlines are not only writers’ nightmare. But it seems that justice isn’t very inclined to them. When a developer encounters a problem and fails to meet the deadline, no big fuss. But when a writer takes a little bit of extra time to make another article, what kind of a problem could be that serious? It’s not like you’re dealing with code. Code can fail. Words mustn’t.
Not long, Queen Danny. Don’t push me. I will finish that article in my own time.
6. Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. ~ John Steinbeck
This sounds simpler than it is, really. In the world of ideas, it’s not so hard to catch a rabbit. Handling it is the toughest part. Anyone can catch up a nice, fat rabbit, fast as it may run. Then the nature does its bidding. A little rabbit begets six little rabbits.
So, what to do with a dozen rabbits that run around all day long?
You have to tame them and make them play according to the rules. The rules that you didn’t invent. The rules that you probably don’t even like. Well, the rabbits most certainly won’t like them. They just wanna eat carrots. But it’s your job to make them sit down and behave.
And do as they’re told.
And sell something at the end of the day, goddammit.