“The secret of it all,” said Walt Whitman, “is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment–to put things down without deliberation–without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…. By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.”

Walt Whitman Poet

Walt Whitman

Have you ever written in the “gush” of the moment? Felt the pen fly along the page by itself, as if another Being controlled it altogether? Have you ever felt life throb in your throat so thick you had to get it out into your computer or your notebook or even the flesh of your hand?

Two Camps

There are two camps. There is the camp that says this is the only way to write, when writing hits you upside the face and demands your presence for a few seconds or a few hours. Then there is the camp that says, as William Faulkner said, “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” These are the writers who write to a schedule, who write everyday, and who may be struck often by the lightning bolt of creativity, but don’t wait for it to sit down and begin to write.

I find myself in both because who am I to argue with Walt and Will? I get up and write on a schedule, and then, when “the flood of moment” washes over while I’m walking down the street, I seek a curb and a pen (or my cell phone) and write as quickly as I can before the moment passes me by.

Which camp do you find yourself in? Do you wait for inspiration to write or do you sit and write no matter what?


Today’s practice is a little odd. I hope you’re up to it.

I want you to find a notebook and pen, preferably a small one. Carry it with you all day long. Practice being like Walt Whitman and listen for “the very heartbeat of life.” If it strikes, pull out your pen and write—write, write…. If it doesn’t, carry your notebook around until it does.

And if it does strike, and you want to share what you’ve written, post it here in the comments. We’d love to see it.

Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting
Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).