I was reminded of that today.
The strategies didn’t involve lightning bolts of genius, shining moments of inspiration or anything like that. If we’re lucky, we get one of those in our lifetime. Rather, it reminded me that good writing is a discipline that, for most people requires some (if not lots) of structure.
The piece suggested creating time and space to write, scheduling it in, taking copious notes and keeping a notepad on you so you don’t forget things, and so on. Sounds like pretty practical and mundane stuff. Interestingly, though, it was inspired by the author’s tour of an exhibit devoted to one of the zaniest and out-of-the-box writers of the 20th Century, Roald Dahl (who also kept a notebook with him and took notes constantly).
Roald Dahl’s work might seem like it was born of lightning bolts — that it poured out of him with perfect fluidity. This piece shows that, while his work might have been initially amazing, it still needed editing and re-working.
Often, we writers think our work isn’t great unless it’s suddenly and beautifully inspired. We think that inspiration should come often and the result should be perfect work. I love this post because it reminds me that even the best writers can’t rely on lightning bolts alone.
Imposing structure on your work doesn’t make you less talented or creative. It makes you a smarter and better writer. Reading that even the best of the best took advantage of such techniques gives other aspiring writers permission to make writing a regular, disciplined endeavor.