Friday, September 21, 2012

Instant Continuous Writing Inspiration

Imagine being the first person to realize that if you tied a rock to a stick, you could hit things with greater force and lower the risk of smashing your own fingers, which you inevitably do when you use a rock alone.

Imagine that: You've just created the first hammer. You must feel like a genius!

Or do you? Your whole life, you've been hitting things with rocks and smacking them with sticks. The raw materials for a hammer have been in front of you for as long as your Cro-Magnon mind can remember. Why did it take you so long to put the two together?

That's kind of how I feel about the following suggestion.
The secret of getting ahead is getting started
— Agatha Christie
Some writers wake up in the morning all bright-eyed and inspired, as if their muse has already brewed and downed the first pot of coffee. These writers sit down in the morning with a whirlwind of ideas spinning in their heads and the inspiration to pluck out the best of them and put them on paper — or, more likely, on the screen. They practice their craft daily with unerring fluidity and grace, facing neither frustration nor ennui.

At least, I've been told there are writers like this. I don't know any of them, and I'm certainly not one myself.
It's never too late to be what you might have been.
—George Eliot
Most writers have to deal with writer's block, lack of inspiration, self-doubt, frustration, and a seething hatred of Monday mornings. There's not much I can do about Monday mornings, but I can help you with the other four. Or rather, I can show you how to help yourself — if you write at your computer.

And, like that first hammer, the tools have been in front of us for a long while; we just have to put them together.
Success is taking your talents seriously but not yourself.
—Sarah-Jayne Gratton
The first tool comes from your favorite writers, the ones who inspire you to write and to keep writing. You know which words of advice and inspiration touch you and motivate you; gather them. (You might use some of the quotations peppered throughout this post.)

And it might not be a quotation, but just an image of your favorite author: Kurt Vonnegut staring out through curls of cigarette smoke, or Ernest Hemingway laughing heartily. Gather those, too.
You're not insane. You're not a failure. You're just trying to do something that matters.
—Hugh MacLeod, aka Gaping Void
The second tool is your computer, where you do your writing. Since Windows Vista, you have been able to select a folder full of image files for your desktop wallpaper, and Windows will shuffle through those images at a speed you set. (You might be able to do this on a Mac, too. I don't know.)
Imagination grows by exercise.
—W. Somerset Maugham
Put the two together: Create a new folder. Fill it with images (or images containing quotations) that inspire you and motivate you to write. Then point Windows to that folder for your desktop image. (If you don't know how, you can find instructions at Full disclosure: I work at

You probably won't find pre-made images with the inspirational quotes you want — though I might soon have a Pinterest board of my own that you can draw from. That means you'll have to create them yourself. There are plenty of free programs to do this with. I prefer GIMP, but you can just use MS Paint.

Now, whenever you sit down at your computer, you've got instant and continuous writing inspiration. When you're mired in self-doubt, frustrated, blocked, and uninspired, press the Windows key and D to show the desktop, lift your spirits, and get you back on track.

It's really such a simple thing. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

So, what quotations would (or do) you include in your motivational desktop? What inspires you to write?