And, since we're also talking with the very great author Tim O'Brien today, here's a little piece of advice from him.
I try to preach to students tenacity and stubbornness--to be a kind of mule walking up the mountain, to keep plodding. Inspiration is important, but you're not going to get it on a bowling alley or on a golf course or all the other things you could be doing. If you're not sitting there inspiration is simply going to pass.
Just like getting to Carnegie Hall... you gotta practice.