Even When I Don't Want To (Holly Schindler)
Most students I talk to want to know where I get my ideas. I think most students (and even young writers) believe it happens this way:
Idea First. Writing Second.
Truth time: It doesn't happen that way at all.
One of my favorite quotes about creativity comes, I believe, from Stephen King: "Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get to work."
The thing is, I work usually ten hour days. That's ten hours of actual work. The clock stops when I'm cooking or walking my dog or doing anything non-writing-related. Do I always know exactly what I'm doing when I sit down to write? Nope. In fact, some days, I feel totally lost. I feel like every sentence is wrecking a project I'd loved just a couple of days earlier.
But I don't quit. I keep going.
That's the thing about doing something creative. Yes, sometimes, it's a ton of fun. Other times, it's confusing and hard. Still others, it feels like there are no good ideas to come by.
That's when it's most important to show up and get to work. To brainstorm. To talk the problem through with someone I trust. If it's a technical problem (something's going wonky with software or I can't get a cover to come out like I'd like), I hit YouTube for some instructional videos.
I know, as a student, there are times when your least favorite subject (mine was math) makes you feel like you're slamming your head against the wall. It feels tedious and boring and pointless. But in all honesty, it's great training. In order to do any job, you'll have tasks along the way that feel boring and pointless. You have to do the boring, unfun tasks right along with the fun ones.
You have to show up, even when the work doesn't feel good. You have to show up when you have no answers for the questions you have.
You don't wait for inspiration. You just work through it.
That's what having a great work ethic is. It's showing up even when you don't want to. It's working through the hard patches and making sure the job gets done. Without it, the job very rarely gets done. I know I never would have ever finished a book, let alone published one.
So do yourself a favor. Show up today. Do the work. The math problem. The history chapter. Work through it.
Trust me. You'll thank yourself later.