A lot of people who want to be writers only write when they're inspired. Professional writers know you have to be able to write when the muse is with you as well as when the muse is AWOL. If you're a pro writer, chances are you are under some contract or other. You can't wait for inspiration to strike, or you'll never be able to consistently meet deadlines especially when you have more than one contracted deadline.
Feast or Famine
It's always feast or famine in the writing business. If you're a freelancer, you're juggling proposals to clients, contracts that need to be negotiated, writing that needs to be done, possibly revisions to submitted work, and so much more including research, clerical and accounting, and required communications with clients.
If you're a book writer, then you have pretty much deal with very similar tasks. You're putting together a book proposal for the next work, writing the work with the closest deadline, making notes or researching the next work after that, communicating with agent and editor, promoting the current book that's out, promoting your name with lots of various activities including an internet presence to name a few. Then the copy edited manuscript of the book you turned in most recently may arrive with only a week's turn around time for you to attend to it. Oops, the page proofs or galleys of the next book to be published may land on your doorstep at the same time.
What's A Writer To Do
Oh, and did I forget to mention, you're also trying to have a life as a spouse, parent, sibling, best friend, etc? And what if you have a day job away from home? And what happens during the holidays when you still have deadlines to meet and a home and yard to decorate?
The stress of all of the above isn't conducive to the imagination, is it? That's usually when a lot of writers discover their muses have abandoned them. Heck, even the Vegas CSI team couldn't find trace evidence of a muse under those conditions.
How do you keep writing when inspiration is lacking? Pros do it all the time. You can train yourself to do it too. Here are a couple of ways to get started.
Tap Into Imagination
Keep a notebook and write down ideas, flights of fancy, dreams, snippets of dialog - all these are your imagination at work. You write it down because you want to encourage your imagination to work.
Don't even call it a journal because a lot of people think if you start a journal, you're making a commitment. Keep it light and fun. Call it a notebook - there's less pressure that way. For some reason, old school paper and pen seems to stimulate the ideas. Maybe it's because your brain works faster than your hand moves across the page so the brain knows it's got to produce something when you pick up the pen and open the book.
Once you start jotting down these odd pieces of observation or flights of fancy, you'll be surprised how fast they'll come - sometimes in the middle of the night so keep a pen and your book on the bed table. Once the floodgates open, you'll be amazed at the flow of thoughts and ideas and memories too.
Set up a schedule of writing time so that when you sit in front of the keyboard to write a page or a scene or a chapter, your brain knows that's what expected. That flow of ideas you triggered with your notebook will now be triggered by your scheduled writing time if you expect it to happen.
Just start typing whether or not you know what happens next. Just start typing whether you want to be sitting in front of the computer or in front of the TV watching Leverage. If you don't know anything else to type, just type I don't know what to type I don't know what to type I don't know what to type....
Trust me, if you make a bargain with yourself that you will work one hour each night and you'll type the above nonsense over and over for one solid hour before letting yourself off the hook, then your brain, out of sheer boredom, will provide you with something to type. Then you'll find yourself not just typing, but writing. That's the secret that pros know.
Keep Words Flowing
If you want hot water, you have to turn on the faucet and let the water run before it runs hot.
With writing, you have to get the words flowing before any useful ideas are created. Writing in a notebook gets the ideas flowing. Writing for an allotted period of time gets the words flowing. Repeating the process every day, keeps the ideas and thus the words flowing. That's why you seldom see writers who take a break longer than a few days.
The words come easy when they're always flowing. The more you write; the better the words flow. The better the words flow; the more your muse is at your mercy rather than the other way around.