Obligation Versus Inspiration

I hear this a lot: Writers write because they have to.

I also hear this a lot: I can only write when I'm moved to write, when I'm inspired.

Is one more write than the other?

(I'm sorry. I won't do that again, please keep reading. :) )

"Writers write because they have to."

This just sounds badass and deep. Writing's part of me, man. It's something I must do to survive.

I feel like I bump up my art-cred one every time I say or write this phrase. And I do use it, because on some level I feel like it's true.

At the same time, I might be writing because I have to, but that doesn't mean I'm writing well. I might be slogging through a tough part of my WIP (dear chapter 4, I hate you). I might be churning out sloppy incredibly awesome blog posts to fulfill my blogging goal. 

I might be writing 20,000 words I'm just going to junk next week.

Or I might be writing because that's what I need to do to collect a royalties check and not starve and/or relocate to my parents' couch and/or go to jail over defaulted student loans. Ah, the life. 

Maybe some day.

"I can only write when I feel inspired."

Words flow from my fingers and fill the page with Times New Roman gold. I can do no wrong. I am a WORD NINJA nunchucking my way to a Pulitzer

Don't get me wrong, when it happens, this is a good thing.

But my experience has told me that's how things don't get written. This philosophy results in low output and high "amount of time spent staring at blank screen."

Not only that, but if one can only work on a project when the inspiration is there, what hope is there for editing when the moment has passed?

I think there has to be a happy medium. If you're going to write only when you're inspired, you better be prepared to adapt and find that inspiration in many places so you can actually get the writing done. But if you're only writing to slog through words, your material may very well feel that way to the reader.

IMO, writing should be a passion, because there's magic when the writer's inspiration/passion comes through the written word and touches the reader. And writing has to be an obligation, not for lofty, artistic reasons but for the simple fact that sometimes things just have to get done. Or started. Or pushed forward. Or torn apart and remade.

Why do you write (blog, etc)?  Does it feel like work to you, or does your inspiration run deep?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. (oops, heh-heh, sorry for the delete)
    I just write, and yeah, sometimes it's awful and sometimes it's better. That's just part of being a writer. Sometimes the inspiration hits and at others it's hiding out in the closet somewhere! I'm even better at editing at times than I am at other times--but I still do it.