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Do we need to know what to write about before we begin writing?

If we believe that is true, we are going to wait a long time.

The inner mind, our source of inspiration, seldom gives us a nice, big story with beginning, middle and end all neatly packaged. It gives random thoughts, snatches of dialogue, transient emotions that seem ours but also not ours; it gives the story in the way we might give a child a jigsaw puzzle by sending them one piece per day through the mail.

So many writers never become writers because they are waiting for the picture, the story, to become clear first and to make sense before they put pen to paper. But that’s just not how inspiration works. We have to do this on faith. Our Muse might be giving us nonsense or it might be giving us a masterpiece. Wanting a guarantee before we start is the exact opposite of how inspiration really works. Inspiration is given by the gods, by the muses, and to receive it we have to be out of our minds, deep in uncertainty, risking all.

So don’t wait for the story to become clear before you write. Write down what is given to you now, and then write the next bit and the next. Once you have left the shore of certainty it will start to become clear. Or not. But start anyway.

Russel Brownlee | Writer and author coaching

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