Carlos Ruiz Zafon says, ‘I don’t believe in writing only when you have an inspiration. You have to know what you are doing and that’s 99% technique.’
I understand what he’s saying. We should know what we are doing, but is the balance really 99% technique to 1% inspiration? What happened to plain old-fashioned hard work and, the cherry on the top of the icing, talent? What percentage is talent? I know people who could study writing to within an inch of their lives and still not produce anything worth reading.
Is Carlos Ruiz Zafron simply saying that writing is hard work? I’d not argue with that. Long hours pounding a computer doesn’t make us out of breath (at least not often) but it does take acute concentration and that is hard work. But when I’m inspired, it doesn’t feel like it.
I only worked out the technique of writing after two novels had been published. I had simply written what had come to me (you might say that it shows!), and whilst I understand that technique can help a lot, surely inspiration and talent are more important. Then the hard work puts it all together.
But it’s the hard work that takes the time.