Slate has been running a series on the rituals and techniques of great artists. Today’s article, focuses on ignoring the idea of waiting for inspiration.
“Waiting for inspiration to strike is a terrible, terrible plan,” Mason Currey writes. “In fact, perhaps the single best piece of advice I can offer to anyone trying to do creative work is to ignore inspiration.” It’s not necessarily earth-shattering to most serious writers, but it is a useful reminder.
The people who can most obviously benefit from this type of advice are the — for lack of a better description — posers. The folks who spend all day at Starbucks with their computer open, hoping someone will ask them what they’re working on so they can spout off their lofty ideals about the muse, and art, and all that.
But even writers with a fairly dedicated routine can still benefit from the prescription to ignore inspiration. Even if you’re diligent about sitting your ass in the chair for a set number of hours a day, worrying too much about getting in the zone can lead you to bail out too quickly, to say, “It’s just not happening today.”