Don’t Wait For Inspiration To Strike — Do This Instead
Inspiration is not always there when you need it. Here’s how to prod your creativity into motion regardless.
As a creative, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is that you’ll fail to express your creative self because you don’t feel inspired.
“I don’t feel like it.” “I’m waiting for inspiration.” And every other way we try to say the same thing: I can’t do it now.
We fail to engage in our creative pursuit — writing, painting, designing, drawing, dancing etc — because we don’t feel like it.
So we sit around waiting for inspiration to strike, failing to realize that if inspiration was human — with flesh and blood like we all are — we wouldn’t want someone that fickle and unreliable as a friend.
Don’t get me wrong. Inspiration is great. It feels almost heavenly when it arrives. There’s a good reason, after all, that the Greeks invented the Muses to personify this flash of creative energy — as if descending from on high. And there’s no telling what you can achieve with it’s around.
But the problem? It is fleeting. It comes around and goes away just as quickly. Being inspired today doesn’t guarantee you’ll be tomorrow. Inspired one day, deflated the next.
And let’s be honest here. I can’t be the only one who used to gets inspired to do his creative work one day and then go stretches of days or even weeks without doing any “creation” just because he doesn’t feel inspired to do it. Because he doesn’t feel like it.
Can you relate?
Waiting for inspiration to strike to express our creative self is a great consistency killer. And without consistency, you lose one of the key ingredient of greatness — of doing great work.
Maybe none of us knows the havoc “waiting for inspiration” can cause more than Somerset Maugham, a renown English playwright, novelist, and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest-paid author during the 1930s.
He provided us one of the greatest secret to putting inspiration on tap.
Someone asked him if he wrote on schedule or only when inspiration strikes.
“I write only when inspiration strikes” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp."
In that short pithy reply, Somerset provided us — creatives everywhere — the secret to coaxing inspiration out of nothingness:
How To Make Inspiration (Almost) Irrelevant
Instead of sitting around waiting for inspiration to strike, be more proactive and force inspiration to strike or — as the case may be — continue without it. And the secret is to doing that is scheduling.
Put it on your calendar.
For months I waited patiently for inspiration to arrive with a big loud bang. Twas fun but then I was utterly disappointed when I realized it doesn’t come that often.
So, I decided to screw inspiration and took the initiative to schedule my creative work. And everything has changed.
“I’m committed to write everyday between 9-11PM.”
When I sit down at the desk my brain knows it’s time to write. Sometimes I feel inspired, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m really happy with my output, sometimes I’m not. Either way, I write. Now that feeling inspired is out of the question, consistent creation has been the result.
The key is to realize is that inspiration is only an emotion/feeling. And that those who get things done with an unerring consistency are those who have mastered the art of decoupling their feelings from their actions.
They know all about the positive feelings and waves of motivation that can sweep them into action, but, as well, they are totally OK, when needed, to do it the other way round: to make motivation follow action.
And here’s why.
Anybody can take action when they feel like it. Anybody can pound out a thousand words of brilliant prose when they totally feel like it. But show me the woman who will write out that thousand words even on days when they don’t feel inspired at all, and I’ll show you the man destined for great things.
Because here’s the truth: No one who’s a writer feels inspired to do it every time. But the great writers knows how to do it anyway — inspired or not. They put the creativity on a schedule. And do it anyway regardless of whether they feel like it.
Same as someone working on a business or any other kind of creative endeavour. Nobody always feel inspired to do what’s needed to be done. But those that would be successful do it anyway — inspired or not. Feeling like it or not.
Anybody can take action when they feel like it. Anybody can flex their creative muscle when they feel inspired. But what you do on days you don’t feel inspired is what determines how far you will go.
The truth is that inspiration is not always there when you need it. You must, therefore, be willing to stick to a schedule and go it alone when needed.
That’s what Somerset did. That’s what great people do.
They decouple doing what they have to do from “feeling like it” by putting inspiration on a schedule.
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