Inspiration is Bull$%it

This is a brief and likely to be poorly edited post. I do not believe in the idea that inspiration is necessary to write. And I do not mean that in the basest way possible. I do not believe that inspiration is necessary to write well either. You are either a writer or you are not.

My computer background is a quote from Stephen King: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” Truer words have never been spoken.

I think to be a  successful ghostwriter you must reconcile yourself to this very early on in the process, but the reality is this: if you want to write as a career in any form or fashion, you must be able to write to deadline. Deadlines do not wait for the breeze to bring a scent that reminds you of someone. (Though in a more general sense, never discount the power of scent memory, like WOW. Perhaps more about this in a later post.)

Back to topic. The only thing that inspired the greatest novels you have ever read is the will to write. I’ve often heard people say some variation of “There are millions of brilliant novels that have never been written.” No. there are not. The only novels that are great are ones that have been written. (Apologies for the excessive use of italicized emphasis, and come to think of it, for the excessive use of parentheses. I can’t help it I love parentheses!)

So stop waiting. Open your laptop and do it. It will probably be bad. That is okay. Most first drafts are, but the final version can’t exist without the initial attempt.

How many words do you write a day? I’m curious. Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @shutupcabbage. For the record, when I’m ghostwriting I do 5,000. When I’m working on my own writing I do 2,000.


7 thoughts on “Inspiration is Bull$%it

  1. dear sir, whom i don’t believe i have ever met before or went to school with.
    i take greatest issue in that fact that you wrote bullshit like a cartoon from the fifties.
    aside from that, i disagree with you on inspiration being bullshit. theres no way inspiration alone can create a piece of good writing, but i believe it is a necessity in writing just as much as vigilant reading and writing.
    i think maybe he real argument is what you’ve considered inspiration. its not always a hippy farting, very small things inspire a story.
    i know you weren’t just in class and donkey shows just popped into your head with no frame of reference.
    even i need to be inspired to write about donkey shows. and i wrote some weird shit.
    yours truly,
    stranger from the internet

    Liked by 1 person

      1. well that seems more like forcing an idea than letting it happen naturally. i agree that that’s what works with ghostwriting because i imagine you have a set of goals and guidelines provided but for personal pieces i think all the great novels started with a small idea from inspiration and grew over time, then of course they can sit down and just write because they’ve been inspired to do so.
        to get all fire-metaphor on this, sometimes you are given the tinder, sometimes you have to go look for it and sometimes you stumble across it.
        and sometimes you just gotta left swipe.


  2. […] What I want to address on my first day back is a question I get fairly frequently, and I think anyone who writes for money probably does as well. It is some variation of: “Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?” I have two answers. First, just write. I wish it was more complicated than that and any number of famous authors, from John Green to Stephen King have given the exact same advice. (They’re a wee bit more qualified to give the advice than I am.) For more of my thoughts on that issue, see my previous post here. […]


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