I am by training a business writer who’s had lots of opportunity to be creative at work. That means meeting deadlines, which means in turn that if the Muse doesn’t show up in a reasonable amount of time, I’ll have to go it alone.
This is among the most exciting parts of my job. It’s when I run through and reject all the cliched ways of approaching my subject. I also calculate the many ways the surviving approaches are likely to fail. Experience tells me that, the longer I wait, the better my writing will be. In a professional setting, this could be 20 or 30 minutes – a chunk of time in an 8-hour day just to sit around waiting, noodling, doodling or whatever else.
It’s exciting, also, because it’s risky. By the time I rule out the cliches, I know most of the things I’m not going to do – but none of the things I will. This is the time when creative inspiration is most likely, right? When you’re on the edge. And the writer’s task is to be on the edge for as long as it takes for an inspiring, novel or creative idea to arrive.
Better still, this approach is learnable and repeatable. With practice, it’s not hard to do.
Most of us can easily to get to the place where we have no creative creative thoughts at all. If you’re like me, that takes about 2 or 3 minutes, max. Then you just hang. Keep thinking about your subject. Notice what your feelings are like. See if they tell you anything. See what’s going on. It’s okay to get a coffee, walk around or have a quick chat with a colleague if you’re in an office. It is not okay to look at or respond to email or texts. Nor is it okay to look at your watch in less than 20 minutes.
In the end you have very little to lose. If, after 20 minutes, the Muse has not arrived, choose the best of the boring or cliched ideas you rejected and go with it. Use it in the most creative way possible. Work it! There’s not much point in beating a dead horse, but I say beat the hell out of any dead cliche. You might get something out of it after all.
What you’ll find is that the more often you use this approach, the more comfortable it gets. Along the way you’ll be pulling inspiration out of the air … or wherever it is that inspiration comes from.