Bad Writing Advice III, “Preparing for Inspiration”

I’m definitely here to help. Why? Because you’re worth it. You, whom I don’t even know, and are probably my competitor. You, whose life probably doesn’t involve a dark, stinky cabin.

Let’s call my helpfulness a fact. As opposed to a lie, like this text is detrimental to your efforts toward authorship and you should exit this blog quickly. But hey, don’t trust the guy with the adorable dog. See where that gets you.

Puppy
Puppy is worried you won’t listen to my writing advice.

A writer cannot begin his work without a dash of inspiration. You can’t buy dashes or any ambiguous metrical unit for inspiration. That is, unless you email des.wilder@gmail.com. We can work the PayPal out later. Otherwise you can’t. Inspiration must come impulsively, like tweensters at an English boy band concert. Or prematurely, like your Mom.

But before inspiration can engage in sexual analogy with your thoughtgina, you need to fluff up the bed sheets, put on a little cologne. Before inspiration will spread her penis tendrils (I don’t think I know how sex works)  you need to prepare. Inspiration is a jealous muse — she doesn’t like competition. Nor does she like physical or emotional obstacles blocking the hall to your mental bedroom. Maybe we should picture her less like a saucy embodiment of the female form and more a stinking orca with mountainous boobs demanding fucks. Either way it’s going to be messy.

Puppy
Puppy doesn’t like where this is going.

Remove the physical obstacles to your mental bedroom. Does your busy schedule make it difficult to find the write time to write? Does your nine to five, your family stuff, do your appointments and routines and surprise errands keep you from the written page? I’d say that’s perfectly okay. When you look back in five years are you going to remember some scribble you made on a word document? But you might regret falling behind on pet vaccinations.

Maintaining a weekly schedule is what makes you responsible — a desirable trait to publishers.

I suggest that you ring a bell every time you’re about to write then recall whether you still have any chores to complete. Do not discount the smaller tasks. If you can think of something, go and finish it. When done correctly, each time you consider writing you’ll be reminded of ten more chores. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs, if a ringing bell reminded them to take out the trash.

Finally, when you’ve returned and rung your bell to no avail, you should make sure there isn’t anything else to distract you by surfing through Reddit or Facebook, checking your mail, and browsing Netflix for late additions. It is essential you eliminate all distractions.

Remove the emotional obstacles to your mental bedroom. You might be upset at a great social injustice. You might be suffering from the raw meaninglessness of a broken relationship. Whatever your emotional baggage, don’t bring it on the brain train. Emotions can bias a written work. Epiphora aside, a crying writer is just messing up his keyboard.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.

Robert Frost was right. We don’t want our reader frustrated to tears by terrible emotional detritus. It’s difficult to write well when you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

ruppy puppy muppy
Don’t regret the past like puppy does.

Inspiration has little time for special needs. Relax. Enjoy the sudden-ness of experience. Eat the grass and give the milk.

A great teacher was once quoted on the Internets:

Grasping at things can only yield one of two results: either the thing you are grasping at disappears, or you yourself disappear.

Whatever that means, it sounds terrifying. So before you write, commit yourself to calm. Don’t be trapped by samsara and don’t let emotions ruin your literature. Free yourself of your desires.

Then, casually, shed the desire to write.

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