Writers love the aha moment, the shriek of eureka, the epiphany-producing breakthrough, the gravity of the apocryphal apple falling on one’s head.
The exquisite flash of revelation and insight afforded by a creative leap, the illumination of a new connection that is so bright and shiny and real that it has the power to bridge a divide and pull your protagonist through.
It can bubble up like a what-about-a-water-bottle in the bath, shock you into wakefulness at three in the morning, spring fully formed into your mind on a run or while pushing a trolley down an aisle.
But it can not and does not come out of the blue. The flash of creative inspiration is not randomly bestowed by a capricious muse.
It is the result of the thousands of hours of deliberate practice that you devote to your calling. Not just the writing, but the related pursuits of reading, day-dreaming and thinking critically about your work.
Melina Marchetta says she listens to her characters, sometimes for months, before putting pen to paper. Markus Zusak says that it’s hard to believe that when he spends half the day staring into space, he’s actually working. Kate Morton calls it the ‘cauldron’ phase – when you are working, but not actually writing.
The headlong rush to publish makes some writers afraid to marinate their work and let the ingredients meld and simmer in the creative juices.
Don’t be afraid.
Prepare your mind. Research and read widely, visit a gallery, listen to music, stare at the stars, and trust the unconscious to do its job. Make those new connections. You might be surprised at what bubbles to the surface.
‘Chance favours the prepared mind’ Louis Pasteur