Oh, the sweet thrill of inspiration! That incredible high. That brilliant thought. That one life-changing idea that simply flows through us and out into the world. Inspiration. We’ve all gotten lost in it — and loved it.
It’s a delicious feeling to write from inspiration and create from that place of timelessness. But if it becomes the only place that we decide we’re able to create from, then what we’re really doing is creating a trap for ourselves. And I do say “decide to create from” because it IS a choice.
As an author coach, I have often heard people say they want to write a book but they don’t feel inspired that day, that week, or that month. They’re waiting for inspiration to “hit” as if it’s a meteor that will only show up every 90 years or so and they have no other choice but to keep waiting.
It’s malarkey. The need for inspiration is a myth that people who identify as being in one of the “creative” fields — such as writing, painting, pottery, sculpting or anything else deemed as “art” — tell themselves in order to avoid dealing with their fears.
It’s a myth that perpetuates two lies:
1. That the “arts” are the only place in which creativity is expressed.
2. That inspiration is a requirement of great work.
I call B.S. on both of these lies.
First, let’s look at what creativity really is. Creativity is creation in action. And where in the world do humans create things? Everywhere. The architect creates blueprints and brings others’ visions to life. The accountant creates structure and a plan for businesses to thrive. The realtor creates agreements that make dreams come true. In every walk of life, there is creation and therefore creativity.
Of course, we also recognize that creativity is something more than just going through the motions from step 1 to step 2. With creativity, there is an element of passion, purpose, and fun. It’s an exploration to see what’s possible.
We say “the deal” was creative when nothing standard could address the needs and bring people together, which means that creativity is as much about solving problems as it is about the end result.
So creativity is not just for the “arts” but an energy and an opportunity that we ALL have at ALL times to solve problems.
Second, while inspiration is fun it is not something that must exist before great work can happen. In fact, it’s the reverse. Great work is required if there is to be inspiration.
Think about the last time you were truly inspired and what triggered it. Maybe you had the aha moment while walking down the beach, but what were you thinking about while you were walking?
What problem were you trying to solve? What question were you asking? What were you going through or working on in your life that needed a new way of seeing it in order to be resolved?
The reality is that you were already working on something before inspiration “hit” and in fact, you were likely working pretty hard at trying to solve a problem of some kind that you needed the inspiration in order to solve.
Inspiration comes out of the work you’re already doing; the work doesn’t come from the inspiration — no matter how it might look.
So, if you want to write a book, you can. It’s not about “being a writer” or needing to be a “creative person”. You are already both the moment you decide that you are.
Just remember that waiting around for inspiration to strike or your muse to whisper to you, won’t get the book written. Showing up every day to struggle through the questions you have will trigger the inspiration you need. But, you have to be willing to show up and do the work FIRST.
So the next time you start thinking that you’ll get started when you feel inspired, stop kidding yourself. Instead, take a good, long look at what’s really holding you back:
What questions do you have about the topic or the process?
What are your really afraid of?
How committed are you, really?
Get honest with yourself. Then, start looking at how you can be creative about solving the problems that are actually getting in your way, and I’m certain inspiration will find you.