Writing lightning

It occurred to me quite suddenly that, if I want to be a professional writer, I have to take inspiration a lot more seriously. If one of my goals is to regularly finish and publish stories, then inspiration is a resource I simply cannot waste. Any moment of brilliant thought has to be captured before it vanishes.

Taking that thought further, it makes writing a much more hardcore profession than I first thought. It’s 24/7! If I’m eating dinner and inspiration strikes, I have to write it down and deal with eating a clammy, vomit-like risotto later. If I have an idea in the middle of the night, I have to get up and write it down. I can’t just wriggle back to my optimal snuggle position and go back to sleep. If I’m in the shower, I have to get out and write that thought down and worry about things like towels and spilt shampoo afterwards. How many other jobs (aside from parenting) demand that level of dedication?

But, if I wait or put off getting ideas down in writing, the moment ends and the inspiration slips away. And that could be the difference between a good novel and a bad novel. Or even a good novel and yet another addition to the collection of unfinished documents on my hard drive.

It’s kind of like photographing lightning. You practice your camera skills, chase down a storm, find the right place and get all set up. Then you sit there and (if you don’t have a fancy lightning trigger – which I don’t) take photo after photo of clouds and clouds and more clouds and clouds until you think it’s never going to happen. But if you stop and let the moment go, you’ll never have the amazing shot that only comes when circumstances align and you click the shutter at precisely the right instant.



Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get dressed and mop up all the water.

2 thoughts on “Writing lightning

  1. So true. I have just these massively long notes in my Notepad app on my iPhone because I often get my lightning strikes when I’m running or on the bus 😛

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