Friday, 19 February 2010

How writers work and why you can't rely only on inspiration and talent

I'm reading Haruki Murakami's book on marathon running, 'What I talk about when I talk about running' at the moment.  It's a few years since I came to read his novels and I started with Kafka on the Shore which is one of the oddest but cleverest books I've read in a long time.  Very unsettling.  (If you like cats, there are some scary pages).

This book about running is also about how he writes and I always find it fascinating how writers approach their work.  I'm always looking for something I can learn from them to make me a better writer and give me comfort because I feel I can never write as well as I would wish or dream I do.

What he underlines is that writing equals working.  Which is something I've always believed because if I relied only on having some talent, I probably wouldn't ever have got going in writing.

Yesterday I was at a networking event and talked to someone who a year ago,bought my first book, Writer's Little Book... with Big Ideas.  At the time she gave me a testimonial that reading my book had activated her desire to write and made her believe that she could.

Twelve months on and she hasn't even begun her book.  Though she has started a file called Book.

I'm sharing this, not to shame her but because many people suffer with the same paralysing problem.  That of not starting until they have as much as they think they should have, in order to start.  I've had that problem in the past too.  Now I've learned to dive in and get going.  Just to do something.  Which is what I advised her to do.

Then last night I was listening to a teleseminar from the Women on the Edge of Evolution series with Claire Zammit and Spryte Loriano.  Spryte underlined the same thing when she was reminded of some advice she'd given out.  Which was 'Stop worrying about the how, just concentrate on the why'.

With a combination of having a powerful why for your book and a trust that you will find the how, the most important thing is to start.  Then work at it.  Inspiration is all very fine.  But as Edison said,'It's only 1% of genius.'

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