You are what you write, not what you dream

I read a great post the other day on writing, inspiration and the importance of discipline to the creative process (in terms of actually finishing anything). Christina Escamilla is the writer. I encourage you to read her full post. In the meantime here is an excerpt of what most resonated with me:

Writers are a weird bunch. It is one of the only professions where finishing the job is often guided by that one spark. The notion that, until you get that lightbulb moment, you just can’t go on. Can you imagine that with anything else?

“Okay, ma’am. I’m finally ready to change your oil. I had this amazing dream last night about running my fingers against the oil pan and I just…I knew that I finally had what it took to be a mechanic.”

“I’m sorry, sir. It’s non-operable. Well, actually, it is operable, I just don’t think I have it in me. At least not right now, you know? I think I’ve hit a surgeon’s block or something.”

And a little later:

Getting in that mindset will kill you. Or, rather it will kill any dreams you have of finishing your piece. Inspiration is great, but it’s a motivator not a conductor. A lot of the times, it can even be a downright hindrance. It can cause you to wait…and wait…and wait. The result of this waiting game is that you will become stagnant and the world will continue to tick on by.

Funnily enough, if you want to be a writer you have to actually write things. Writing is not a process through which you transfer beautiful, fully-formed ideas from your imagination onto the page. In my experience most ideas have to be torn kicking and screaming from the comfort of the subconscious with the creative equivalent of forceps, and they often come with plenty of nasty by-products. Becoming a writer takes many tens of thousands of words of effort – and that’s just to get to the point where you are no longer writing sentences a precocious middle schooler could produce.

As Christina concludes:

We write because we were meant to, but we should also write because the very act itself is going to make us better writers. The more we write, the more we get less terrible at it. So, when you do hit that dreaded period known as writer’s block – ignore it, and move on. You’ve got words to spit out and miles to keep going.