One of the sayings that I have a lot of practical experience with is, “necessity is the mother of invention.” There are times when a person needs something to work, and has to figure out how to make that happen. Most of us likely find and apply solutions to problems nearly every day. And when we’re working on a more complex project, we need to problem solve over and over again.
I consider inspiration and invention to be closely related. As necessity is the mother of invention, a deadline is the mother of inspiration for me.
As a wife, parent, grandparent, author, public official, and business owner, necessity and deadlines are a normal part of my life. Deadlines, whether they are internally or externally set, are a driving force in my life. I can honestly say I appreciate and, at times, embrace them. I often refer to them as ‘goals,’ but treat them as deadlines.
When it comes to writing, many authors have set deadlines to meet. My readers are the ones who propel me write a new Winnebago County Mystery every year–I did miss one year though. Soon after one book has launched, many people ask me, “When is the next one coming out?” So a new deadline is set.
According to Paul Rudnick, “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” I can certainly relate to that, although my list of avoidance tactics is very different that Ridnick’s.
On occasion, I get asked, “So you write when you are inspired?” The truth is, when I sit down to write, I write. The act of writing triggers inspiration. Sometimes 1,000 words takes a few hours, sometimes it takes all day, and once in a great while it takes about an hour. If it was always like that, there would be need to dread deadlines.
I love the way William Faulkner put it, “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” I’m not at my computer at nine a.m. every day, but I agree with Mr. Faulkner’s philosophy.
Mary Heaton Vorse said it this way, “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” Very true, unless you write like Ernest Hemingway did: standing up.
Are you a person who thrives on deadlines, or do you work more efficiently without a looming deadline?
Christine Husom is the author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, An Altar by the River, The Noding Field Mystery, and A Death in Lionel’s Woods, November 2013.