Working up a Sweat and Advice From Jane Yolen

Not long ago at an authors’ symposium, I was asked, “How do inspiration and perspiration manifest themselves in your writing process, and where does creativity fit in? Is there creativity in inspiration, or is inspiration beyond our control—a gift?”

I replied that perhaps inspiration is a fairly cheap commodity. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say, “I’ve got a great idea for a book. I’ll tell you what it is, you write it up, and then we’ll split the profits.” Apparently, it’s easy to come up with ideas—to be inspired. The tough part is actually the writing itself.

I think perspiration, inspiration, and creativity are all connected. The more you write the more you perspire—in a sense– and the more creative you become. The more creative you become, the more inspiration you will have. It’s like sweating. You’re aware of the sweat on your skin so you know your sweat glands are working, and you realize that the longer you walk or jog, the more you’ll sweat, but you just do it—you’re not really mindful of all that’s involved.

For me inspiration is often a thought that begins with, “I didn’t know that!” Sometimes it’s an image, such as to little girl princesses catching fairies in a butterfly net—that’s how I wrote THE PRINCESSES’ LUCKY DAY.

But you have to be willing to take the inspiration and run with it—or should I say, sit with it—at the computer or with pen in hand. Follow the advice of popular children’s book author Jane Yolen:

“BIC. It stands for Butt in Chair. Really. Hard work is the only real magic there is… if the book in your head is to get on the page.”



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