For me, the activity itself is not enough. When I go for a walk, I want to have a purpose for the walk beyond itself (e.g., seeing a sight, finding a clue on a treasure hunt, etc.). If I exercise, it is not just to lose weight and get healthier, but rather to develop a skill of some sort beyond that (where health is a pleasant inevitability).
Perhaps this is why I get stymied when I write. I find that he worst things I have written are when I want to write X number of words, and while some sort of a story comes out of the effort, it is often quite boring and not immersive in the slightest.
Therefore, perhaps the finished book or story is not really my goal, but rather talking to others about it after the fact. When I can imagine a friend laughing at a joke or a family member tearing up at a dramatic moment, then I find that the words flow out.
But, when I try to figure out what this character would do in such-and-such situation, for some reason, it just doesn’t work. I procrastinate. I doubt myself. I get bored with writing and nothing is more certain to make a story boring than to be bored while writing it.
This is what I discovered today. I was stuck on my longer piece but once I figured out that I am writing for others, not for my characters, not for myself, but for my audience, I found that things moved forward quite nicely.
Of course, because I am writing for others whom I admire and whose opinions I respect, I don’t want to write anything too derivative or hackneyed. I want to give them something new, something that surprises and inspires.
That being said, others undoubtedly find inspiration by not writing for others (but writing for themselves, etc.). I have tried a variety of ways to get the creative juices flowing, and recently I have found a few ways that work for me (at least for the time being). Oddly enough, I was once told are these ways were the wrong ways to get inspired. I suppose one needs to know the rules before breaking them, though sometimes by breaking them, the inspiration floods the page.