“Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration.” – Rudolf Nureyev, Born Mar. 17, 1938.
“I don't have a good idea.”
Shut up. Write anyway.
“I don't have anything to say.”
Stop it. Write something anyway.
“It didn't come out the way I wanted.”
Fuck you, publish it anyway.
We aren't artists. We are hacks. If someone is going to find artistry in our work, let them find it like a fine gem among rough stones. You're not going to shit out ONLY diamonds. No one does.
You have to have the technique down, so you can grind out those rough stones when your brain doesn't have a diamond on deck.
Because your audience needs to be fed. Your clients have deadlines. You have a career to build. You can't be waiting on the muses to get their shit together.
So how? How does one develop the ability to write anywhere, any time, about anything?
Practice. Pick something random and write about it. Commentate upon it. Love it. Hate it. Revel in its details. Compare it to something else. Contrast it with something else. Do whatever. It doesn't matter.
As an exercise, it's about getting exercise. Get the technique down, so that when inspiration is being a fickle bitch, you're not getting the blank page blues.
For example, and I'm just brainstorming here – look up a famous person whose birthday is today, quote them, and then write about that.
What are your techniques for working without inspiration?
If your answer is a shrug, that's all anyone will ever say about you when asked about your work.
<!—- lagniappe I won’t leave you hanging, dear Cultist. I have for you here my own, short, sweet list of subjects that I will use to DELIVER CONSISTENTLY when the muse is off providing for some poor starving artist. 1. First, as already mentioned, there is the quotation trick. Collect ones you like, or look them up like I do. Take some preserved wisdom and riff on it. Give your own take, agree or disagree. Disclose the inspiration or don’t, the point is the subject was worthy of preservation, so it’s worthy of new discussion. 2. Current events in general. What is the current zeitgeist or discourse that you can bend to touch and relate to your core subject? Make it feel current and new and of the moment by doing so. 3. News in your industry. What can it mean? What will happen? Will things change? Will they abide? Make a guess and explain it. Then make a mitigating guess of what might happen instead. Cover the bases. 4. Historical curiosity. Some event of the past that is interesting or noteworthy. Again, connect it to your core topic. How does it relate? What is the timeless lesson to be found and brought into the present? 5. Make a list. Pick a topic and go for a numbered list of takes. As you may have noticed, I use this for my lagniappe sections currently. I like to make a short list of brief ideas, then bounce around and pad them out. 6. Chop a list down. Pick a problem, look at a short list of suggested solutions. Riff on which should be done in which order, or eliminate the ones that are too complicated, or expensive, or whatever. Shave down too many options into a manageable choice for your reader. 7. Last tip - if completely blocked, write about THAT. It sounds silly, but it works. How does it feel? What have you tried to get over it? What would you rather be writing about if you could? Churn it out. Yank out the clog by spilling it onto the page. TRY IT! That’s it for me, but I would love to hear any ones you use that don’t fit my own categories. TELL ME! —->