Letters to a Young Writer: The Pilot Light

In the last letter I talked about those times in writing when you get stuck, or bored, and you either don’t know how to proceed or you just don’t feel like it, and you give up.

I said that making a daily habit of writing can help you through those times. It’s like keeping a pilot light lit for a furnace. The pilot light keeps burning all the time so that a bigger fire can be ignited quickly and easily when needed. 

A habit of daily writing keeps the creative flame alive during those times when you’re stuck and the writing isn’t going well, or hardly going at all. Eventually the ideas and the inspiration and the energy will come back. And they’ll probably come back sooner if you keep a pilot light on.

Something else that helps is faith.

Over the years I’ve learned to trust the creative process, to let it work rather than trying so hard to control it and make it work . There are days -- lots of days -- even now when I can’t see my way forward or I get bored and tired of something I’m working on. But I’ve discovered that even at those times, the creative process is still going on in a part of my mind I can’t consciously access or control. I’ll get dejected and feel like I’ve got no ideas, no inspiration, and then one day a fresh new idea will suddenly pop into my head. It always seems as if it came out of nowhere, but really it came from all the work my mind was doing “behind the scenes.”

That’s what I mean by having faith. Keep at the writing, and those moments of inspiration will come.

For some other thoughts on how to spark ideas for writing, see my post on five important questions for writers (and other creativepeople).

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