How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Monday, February 6, 2012

Inspiration vs. Willpower

Can't write? Not feeling the MUSE? I know we all feel like there's never enough time, but do you ever feel like you have to be inspired before you can actually write? I know many of us feel this way from time to time. My theory is that the flow, the muse, the inspiration FOLLOWS the WILLPOWER. It's not really a matter of X vs. Y.

How to fight procrastination || inspiration vs. willpower | You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink | writing tips | running advice

Here's a few analogies to help you fight the urge to procrastinate.

  1. PARENTING - Dr. James Lehman is a master at helping parents learn how to parent children with bad or difficult behaviors. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." He likes to say that you can lead a horse to water and you can't make him drink, but you CAN make him THIRSTY. The idea is that you can make a child behave through giving effective consequences. With writing, the thirst is the act of writing. The drink is the muse. It seems backwards, I know, but hear me out...
  2. PRAYER - Brigham Young once said, "If you don't feel like praying, pray until you do." Another quote: "It matters not whether you or I feels like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do." With writing, simply substitute the word 'write' for 'pray.'
  3. RUNNING - In Chris Crowley's Younger Next Year, he says it's imperative to our health to exercise six days a week. His motto is "Just show up!" I find that I often do not feel like running, but I know if I just show up to the water trough and start walking, I'll get thirsty for the euphoric RUN. Same with writing, if we just sit down to write, even if we're "thinking" for 15 minutes, we'll eventually start writing. OR - if we just start writing (walking), we'll soon start to feel inspired. The story will click and everything will make sense and we'll feel like we're getting some good writing accomplished. We'll be drinking the water, feeling the spirit, and running the race.
If you want to read more about finding the balance of willpower vs. inspiration, read Kristi Holl's post about Writing in the Flow.

Now, go WRITE! And keep on keepin' on...


  1. That is so true Christie. Me and my brother and sister used to be a bit moany before tae kwond-Do lessons after a day at school (nevermind after work lol) knowing it would put us through our paces. But we always came out with a huge smile on our faces. It's worth the effort.

  2. You're right! My kids (sometimes) whine about going to gymnastics, but they always leave with a smile!

  3. "If you don't feel like writing, then write until you do."

    I like that! That's one for my wall. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. Glad to know I could help. Hope you had a blast at SCBWI! (I finally joined - officially). Can't wait for my conference in September...


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