"Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now." - Goethe
I've heard it said before that nobody waits like a writer. We hover with our fingers above the keyboard, continually hesitating. We prevaricate, we procrastinate; we tell ourselves that we've got nothing to say, that we can't think of anything to write, that we can't concentrate while the house is such a mess - we tell ourselves anything that will stop us from starting. Sound familiar?
I'm a great believer in writing to get inspired, because some days, no matter how many of your favourite stories you read, or how much time you spend thinking and gazing out of the window and preparing, your stories aren't going to write themselves. Don't get me wrong, there's a great deal to be said for being ready before you start to write - there's a great deal of unconscious settling and preparation the mind has to do before embarking on certain things - novels, for example, or particularly challenging short stories. But I'm also a believer that the writing part of the brain is a muscle that needs to be exercised.
So here's what I propose we do, if we're not ready to start the novel, or the short story doesn't feel quite ready to come out yet. Don't get complacent on the grounds that if you're not ready to start your big piece of work, there's no point writing anything at all. There is always some point to writing something. It gets the brain going and means you don't forget how to hold the pen (figuratively, I mean. So many of us write on word processors). Remember coming back to school after the six week break and your writing came out all child-like, and you couldn't remember how to string a sentence together? That's exactly how you don't want to be when you come to start serious work. You want to be READY.
It's my theory that every writer needs to set aside at least two solid hours' writing time a couple of times a week, and use it for actual writing - not for collating stuff to send out, or for mentally 'preparing' to write, but for actual writing. You gotta keep that writing muscle flexed, otherwise when you try and run on it you'll fall over in front of the rest of the athletics team. I'm serious! In that hour, or those couple of hours, write anything creative that'll keep your writing tick-tack sharp. Write a fantasy resignation letter. Write about some interesting character you met in the grocery store. Write about an imaginary holiday you'd like to go on. Write about anything. Just write!