Last updated on 4 November 2018
Once upon a time, we believed that writers get a stroke of inspiration from the muses. They sit down and pour out their emotions and transform them into words on paper. It was the stroke a an Inspired Genius.
But like the muses, those writers were just myths. Writing doesn’t work that way. And if ever you believe in this kind of myth, you’re harming yourself as a writer.
Writing is hard work with blood, sweat, and tears. Behind successful novels is a process. And when we talk of a process, it has stages that we have to go through. But those who believe that the Inspired Genius myth exists, they don’t know what is really happening behind the scenes. Instead, they see the finished product and wants to get there fast.
What happens when you believe in the myth of the Inspired Genius? You’ll show the three signs of writer’s block.
Because you believe in the inspired genius myth, you start to do the same. Sit down, wait for the muse to inspire you, and once stimulated, write. But what if you’re not yet inspired? You get up, look for inspiration somewhere else. And you end up doing something different other than write. This is one reason for procrastination. And it’s hard to get back to sit down and write. Fear sets in and you’ll get scared to try again.
Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. – Sylvia Plath
They sit down, write brilliant prose, then run out of steam in the process. You’ll reach the point where you don’t know what to write next.
Believing in the Inspired Genius myth can make you doubt yourself in the process. You’ll lose confidence in your writing once you compare your piece to someone else’s novel. “How I wish I could write like that!” But what you don’t know is, you’re being unfair. You’re comparing your failed draft to someone’s successful novel. What a big disparity!
So what do you do once you have these signs? Accept the harsh reality of the writing life. Authors don’t wait for inspiration. They show up on their desk, sit, and write like it’s the only work they know. A brilliant piece of writing comes from a pile of messy drafts. Writers spend months or years planning their novels. Even those writers who join NaNoWriMo plan first before starting to write their draft.
Joining NaNoWriMo can be an exciting challenge. Write and reach the 50,000 word count by the end of November and you’ll have your first draft. But if without a plan, you’ll end up revising a lot to the point of losing steam and starting all over again.
So start planning your novel now in time for NaNoWriMo. I’ll try to make one, too. I can’t let myself feel the pressure, lose steam, and cast self-doubt now. Writers who are susceptible to this myth’s trap should bounce back.