Here’s where inspiration comes from, and why you don’t need it

Where does inspiration come from?

That’s a question that is often asked, and rarely or never satisfyingly answered.
There are a million would-be artists out there, all sitting around and waiting for inspiration to hit. Then they’ll write that great American novel, record that smash hit album, film that blockbuster movie. Feel free to add on with your own unfinished, maybe even not started, project.
Hell, I’ll admit it right off the bat – I’m one of them. At times anyway. But how can I change that? How can I, and you, get from dream to reality?

Inspiration can come from a multitude of places. A piece of music, text, interaction with other people, with nature. For me, music is a big thing, and old stories. They can give me ideas, and they can get me pumped and ready to take control of my life – but…
But what does it matter? What this form of inspiration lacks is direction. I’m not saying it’s bad, it can definitely be used, but the focus to take it somewhere needs to come from yourself. That’s where the hard work begins.
This week, I went back to work, after being sent home for about two months straight, due to the COVID19 situation. The idea of going back inspired me to a title of my coming blog post, this one actually.
“Why working is bad for work”
It has a nice to ring to it, don’t you think? I thought so at least. But I didn’t really have anything else than that, and whenever I tried taking it further, it felt whiny and like an excuse. And I really didn’t feel like writing a whiny excuse for why I wasn’t doing my work. I’d actually rather do my work.
And that brings us to our next question:

Do we really need inspiration?

Ask yourself that. Taste the question, let it roll around in your skull for a bit. Here, I’ll do it with you.

What did you arrive at? Tell you what I arrived at. That waiting for inspiration is just the kind of whiny excuse that keeps you from fulfilling that dream of yours. Look, maybe you don’t have the great American novel in you, but that’s fine. Not everyone does.
What isn’t fine, is that we’ll never know unless you try and write it down.
Scratch that. Just do it. In the words of the wise and mighty philosopher Yoda;
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
I’d also have you skip the “do not”, because that really doesn’t fit my narrative too well, to be honest.

I’ve found that my greatest inspiration comes from doing the work. Just like muscles comes from working out, inspiration comes from working.
So to tap into that infinite sea of good ideas that some believe is out there, ready to take a swim in, you’ll need to pick up that pen and start practicing writing. You can’t very well swim without swimming lessons, can you? Why should writing be any different, you think?

Is it that simple?

Yeah, I think it is. From personal experience, I can only say that it works. And it is the only thing I’ve found to work 100% of the time. What, 100%’s not good enough for you? What else do you need?
Does that mean that what you’ll create will be good, or even satisfying 100% of the time? Hell no, baby! But even if you don’t feel perfectly satisfied with your creation, you should at least be perfectly satisfied with yourself for creating it. Don’t worry, you’ll get better over time. Or not, but then again, so what? At least you did it, you know? You won’t bend down to the unstoppable scythe of time, thinking about the things you could or should have done.

It’s interesting to think about that as long as I held the first title in mind, “Why working is bad for work”, and thought about how I should write about how I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t actually writing. Not a word! But as soon as I discarded that title, and actually sat down and wrote a new headline, the one you see above, this whole text came out in one swift stream. One strong current of thought, where I only tried to keep my head above the surface by bashing the keys.
Mind. Blown.

Look, I know that if you’ve done any amount of soul searching at any point in your life, none of this should come as a great revelation to you. It’s all within us. Yet, speaking for myself for a moment, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded once in a while. And who knows, maybe this’ll work as inspiration to someone out there – wouldn’t that be great?
If it does or doesn’t, doesn’t really matter in the end though. The important thing is that I put my pen to the paper (or fingers on the keyboard, if we’re going to be literal about it), and did the work. And I’m freakin’ pleased with it not ending up being a whiny excuse, because who’d want to read that? I sure wouldn’t.

2 thoughts on “Here’s where inspiration comes from, and why you don’t need it”

  1. If I understand the article correctly I completely agree. Inspiration is great, but you can’t depend on it. That’s why writing is called “work”. Being able to produce without inspiration is where the “art” comes in. It is also why “writer’s block” is an amateur’s problem. The professional will produce material no matter what. The more honed his art the more honed the material.

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