When you’re a writer, you don’t realise quite how hard you’re working. To those who don’t write at all, it may seem that all the writer is doing, is sitting at a desk and just scribbling out randomly. It doesn’t matter if you use a notebook and pen or a computer and keyboard, to the non writer, it still doesn’t look like work.
Of course, that is because most of what a writer does is hidden. To paraphrase Thomas Edison, good writing is 90 % Inspiration, 9 % Perspiration and 1% Luck. So if you know someone who writes and you come across them just lying back in the garden, looking like they are sunbathing or sleeping, don’t interrupt them with inane questions like “I thought you were working on your Novel.”
For the very simple reason that Dreamtime (as Terry Brooks calls it) is the 90 % of the time that we writers are looking for Inspiration. Inspiration can hit at any time, but often we need to do things that look like we are doing nothing in order to court the Muse.
The time we spend behind the keyboard is the 9 % Perspiration – while it might not sound like a lot of time, it is the hardest bit…
…for me anyway, other writers may disagree – and if you do, feel free to add your opinions and comments below!
That 9 % is when we have to capture the inspiration with the words we have at our disposal. That’s the really difficult bit. You have a picture in your head of the way the scene is supposed to work. You have to put it into words, but for some reason, all you can write is nonsense.
Then, once you’ve worked your way though the 9 % perspiration and got a finished product (we won’t go into editing and rewriting) you then have to hope that your 1 % Luck is up and running.
That Luck is essential if you want to make writing a success. If you don’t really mind what happens and are happy just pootling around on the keyboard, you may never use your 1 % Luck. Sadly, you can’t store it up for future use!
So a writer does do a lot of hard work in order to produce a book. And this is where my title comes in.
Writers, like any other working person, need to de-stress and relax. So we have many ways to do this.
Some people exercise – in fact all writers should exercise, hunching over your desk all day causes muscle problems and exercise helps with that. Other people paint or make things. This utilises the creative part of the brain as well as providing relaxation.
Women writers can retreat to retail therapy or spa therapy for relaxation. It’s very hard to think about writing when someone is giving you a massage or a pedicure.
So, remember that quote I mangled from Edison?
Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.
My version was:
Good writing is ninety percent Inspiration, nine percent Perspiration and one percent Luck
For every One Hundred Percent of work we do, a writer needs to have an extra fifty percent for relaxing and fifty percent for the rest of their life…
Otherwise the muse may never return!