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Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Waiting for Inspiration to Strike

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we're starting this series to help identify them for other writers (along with strategies for avoiding the mistake). This week's writing mistake writers make is waiting for inspiration to strike.

Everyone makes mistakes—even writers—but that's okay, because each mistake is a great learning opportunity. The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many mistakes over the years, so we're starting this series to help identify them early in the process. Note: The mistakes in this series aren't focused on grammar rules, though we offer help in that area as well. 

(75 grammar rules for writers.)

Rather, we're looking at bigger picture mistakes and mishaps, including the error of using too much exposition, neglecting research, or researching too much. This week's writing mistake writers make is waiting for inspiration to strike.

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Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Waiting for Inspiration to Strike

First off, I believe in inspiration. It can strike at the most unexpected times and take you in a new directions you never expected as a writer. So this is not an anti-inspiration screed. The mistake some writers make is thinking that they need to wait around for that magical moment to happen before they start writing. That is a writing mistake.

(Vintage WD: Trapping the Elusive Idea.)

Going back to high school and college, I've known so many talented writers who have very few publication credits to their names. In fact, many have no publication credits, and it's not because they're shy about submitting; they're waiting for inspiration to strike. They're waiting for that great story or poem idea to form before they pick up the pen or start typing on their keyboard.

From my own experience, I know inspiration often strikes when I'm actively writing. For instance, I write more publishable poems for myself when I'm writing example poems our April and November poem-a-day challenges. The act of writing—even writing I consider weak—triggers more inspired writing (the kind that gets accepted for publication). Plus, the act of revision sometimes leads to completely unexpected writing—something that can't happen if you don't have a first draft.

Mistake Fix: Start Writing to Find Inspiration

The fix for this writing mistake is rather simple. Instead of waiting for inspiration to start writing, start writing to find inspiration. Seek it out regularly by setting up a writing routine, whether that's daily, weekly, or even monthly. Writing begets writing.

Here are some resources to get you started:

And if you do better with a writing community, try one of our monthly challenges:

So quit waiting around for lightning to strike when it comes to your writing, get out there with a metal pole and start pulling the electricity to you.

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