Having a Foundation

Hallelujah, I remembered to post!

Every single month, I write my day down on my calendar. So why do I sometimes look right at the calendar and still forget to post? No idea.

Being December and all, I considered a holiday-themed post, but I'm already talking Christmas over at Tynga's Reviews. I also considered a brief rant about the The Avengers character posters and how Black Widow is the only Avenger (and the token female) who's showing off her ass, but Carrie Vaughn said it better.

So instead, I'm pulling out an old bit of advice, originally posted three years ago on my blog. It's about having a foundation in your writing. Every July, I attend a local SF/F convention called Shore Leave, and in '08 something said during a writing panel really stuck with me:

I was in a writing panel Saturday afternoon , and one of the writer panelists (Howard Weinstein, FYI) was discussing discipline, which led one of the attendees to mention "inspiration." At which point author Michael Jan Friedman made the following comment (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here):

"Many people liken inspiration to a lightning bolt from on high. Something that comes down and strikes you. But what most people forget is that lightning comes from the ground, not the sky. The ground is a solid foundation. Instead of waiting for inspiration to drop down on you, start with a good foundation."

He went on, illustrating his point that a foundation in discipline, mechanics of writing and storytelling trumped waiting for that inspirational strike from above. And I happen to agree with him.

Inspiration is awesome, but it can also be used as a crutch and an excuse. "Oh, sorry, the Muse is on vacation, so no writing got done today." "I don't know how to get Max out of the Dungeon of Doom, so I'm going to drink a latte and wait for inspiration to strike." Um, yeah. You could be waiting for a week or more. This is where the discipline part of that foundation comes in handy. By putting your Butt In Chair, no matter what, and writing something, no matter how dreadful or delete-worthy, you are giving yourself the discipline to finish something.

Rewriting is okay. Revising is always necessary. But you can't finish a first draft if you let yourself off the hook with, "I'm waiting for inspiration." Discipline yourself to write through the trouble spots, and you won't have to wait for inspiration. I'll be there waiting for you when you sit down to write.


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