I recently finished Elizabeth Gilbert's new book on creativity: Big Magic. Gilbert has produced well in her writing career. She has had huge successes (Eat, Pray, Love) and lesser ones. Gilbert's no stranger to the magic of the Muse, but she defines it differently.
It's what happens when you are listening. And when you have a writing routine.
Her theory: there are great ideas out there, waiting for writers to receive them. Those who listen, get the idea. But that's only the first step. Once you hear the call, you actually have to write. Regularly. The idea will grow as you do your writing routine. The book will happen.
If you get bored, tired, distracted, the idea will wait around for a while, Gilbert says. But eventually it'll go find someone else to listen. She saw this happen with a great book idea that came to her many years ago.
She was excited, started writing, then dropped it for two years. Not long after, she heard from her friend, the writer Ann Patchett. Patchett was writing a new novel, about the exact same idea. How was that possible? Gilbert had told no one of her book-in-progress. Neither had Patchett. Years had gone by. But there it was.
It convinced Gilbert that ideas wait, latch on, then leave if we are not writing regularly.
Your Weekly Writing Exercise
If this makes sense to you, your writing exercise this week is to read this very interesting article on how to build a writing routine. Some of the ideas are no-brainers, but others are innovative. Best of all they work.