Before getting into the main content, I wanted to take a moment and introduce you to a new segment we’ll be working on: Writers on Writing.
We’ll be looking at quotes from writers, interpreting their meaning, and breaking down how they can apply to our work. Our goal is to keep these posts brief, under 500 words, and applicable to a wide variety of writing styles. We hope that each post will contain at least a snippet of information or a tip that you can put to use right away, no matter the type of writing you practice.
So without further ado, let’s get into it.
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
Today’s quote is from everyone’s favorite nineteenth century gold miner, Jack London (1876-1916.) You might know him best from his most famous works: The Call of the Wild, White Fang, Sea Wolf, or Iron Heel.
The quote above is fairly simple to interpret, though it may infer writing to be more ‘work’ than ‘divine inspiration’ – as many may wish it be: Inspiration doesn’t come to those waiting for it. You’re going to have to go out into the world and find your inspiration in experiences, observations, and just good ol’ fashioned livin’. Inspiration doesn’t come easy and sometimes it takes a while – but once it shows itself, be prepared to wrestle it to the ground and hold it tight because it can leave just as suddenly as it came.
In each of London’s many works, you can see bits of his life, such as spending 12-18 hours per day working in cannery as a child, or his time in the Klondike Gold Rush or on a seal hunting ship, or maybe even those three times in four months where he got arrested while working as a war correspondent in the Russo-Japanese War.
Jack had this amazing three-step system to write bestselling novels – plus as an added bonus, it’s available for free and open-source, so you can take and tweak it however you wish:
Live. Write. Repeat.
What’s all of this mean for you? Easy – get out there and live your life away from the blank screen and blinking cursor. Your inspiration is out there, you just have to go and find it – and make sure to bring your club.
Today’s challenge: Write a short story (or long if you so wish) influenced by a mundane aspect of your morning routine. Maybe your sunny-side-up eggs become flying saucers. Perhaps you find your running shoes tapping their toes by the front door when you’re late for your morning jog. What if you wake to find your shower on and heated to the perfect temperature, then remember that you live alone?
We’d love to read some responses to today’s challenge and so invite you to share a link to your story in the comments below or email it to us here. Maybe you’ll find your work featured here on our blog!