“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”– Stephen King
I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple of hours now and all I have are a whole lot of words on a page. They aren’t horrible words. They make sense and are, for the most part, grammatically correct. There’s a logical progression of thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with the words I’ve written, other than the fact that they feel wrong.
Does that make sense? Can something be both right and wrong at the same time? Apparently, yes, they can because I’ve been writing the wrong words for three or five hours. I’m frustrated. I’m uninspired. I’m…Here, alone with my thoughts and very little inspiration.
I thought I had it! An idea, a concept worth exploring, and I was ready to dive into it with both feet. I opened my laptop, clicked on a new document, and started typing. I got about seven hundred words deep and then it hit me like a blunt object to the side of my head. I’ve been working away for who knows how long and I’m not saying anything.
Well, that’s a sucker punch! What am I going to do now? I’ve gotta put something up and now I have nothing. Perfect.
I’m a quiet person. Painfully shy. If we were to meet in person, you’d find that getting words out of me is as challenging as getting milk from beaver. Technically possible but really not practical or sustainable in the long term. How many of you just googled: Milking a beaver? Mm-hm, don’t be shy. We’ve all done it.
The reason I’m so quiet isn’t a lack of vocabulary or knowledge. Which is just a nice way of saying, “I know how to use my words and I’m not stupid.”
I’m quiet because I’m way too thoughtful. Not in a kind and generous way. Though, I hope I’m kind and generous. I mean, who wants to be an asshole? No one. At least, not intentionally and certainly not as an alternative lifestyle. We all want to be kind, right? Some of us just pull it off with more conviction than others.
Where was I? Right, I’m thoughtful in a different way. It’s a: stop and think things through until the moment has passed and now we’re on to a new topic and you just stood there making weird squeaking noises…Sorta way. I know, that was a run-on sentence. I apologize with half of my heart. The other half is still googling beavers.
It’s not a personality quirk that plays well at parties. I’m always the odd duck sitting in the corner all alone. Slowly inching closer to the nearest exit. Hoping my subtle movements won’t draw anyone’s attention because if they see me, they will try to engage. It’s kind of them to try, but we both know it won’t go well.
On the other hand, as far as personality quirks go, if you’re a writer who’s trying to produce thoughtful content on a weekly basis then, you’ve found a home. Welcome! Seriously though, did you google the beaver thing? I’m not saying it’s required reading, but you’ll thank me.
My excessive thoughtfulness has created one particular life motto: If you can’t say anything productive, shut up. Or more often than not, if you can’t say anything, do yourself a favour and stop making weird squeaking noises. It’s creeping everyone out. It’s not as subtle as you think. For the love of all that is unicorn in this world: Shush.
All that to say that, about twenty minutes ago, I realized I was saying a whole lot of nothing in particular. Well, more specifically, my heart wasn’t in it. I was fighting to find the inspiration, the motivation, to keep going and that’s usually my cue to stop. It’s not working. I can’t do it. I should give up, walk away, and shut up because my voice isn’t working very well.
Oh, the panic! It’s Monday, and I said I’d post something every Monday and Friday. I owe it to… Huh, maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself? Maybe I should just cut myself some slack? Maybe it would be okay to miss a day?
Maybe it’s time for me to shut?
Or, inspiration is overrated and I need to put my head down and do some hard thinking. Put my back into it a bit. It’s not all sunshine and dandelions. I may be artsy-fartsy but sometimes I need to be less art and more…Uh, never mind.
Those of us who are creative by nature, by instinct, tend to put a lot of faith in the magical power of inspiration. It’s the key that unlocks many different worlds and it allows us to see beyond our limitations. It’s a magic carpet that transports us to other realities where boundless wonders reside. It’s a spiritual experience full of bright colours and beautiful music. A technicolor wonderland.
Without its wondrous gifts, we’re lost or, worse, we’re left stranded on a barren island. Wordless. Voiceless. Creatively alone and forlorn. Just us, a coconut named Steve, and a single question floating around in our minds: What about the beavers? I’ll never know about the beavers!
There was nothing wrong with the words I put down on the page and I’ll go back to it tomorrow. It’s not all lost. I’m not a complete failure. Inspiration may have left me to my own devices, but my own devices will suffice. When I let go of the strings, let inspiration fly off on its own solo adventure, I found some odd thoughts clanging around. Slightly amusing, kind of bizarre, and perhaps you’re wondering what I’ve ingested.
Nothing. I’m completely sober. I know, right!
It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we’re forced to work a little harder instead of relying on old faithful. That applies to other fields, not just the creative side, because where would we be if a mechanic only fixed cars that inspired their genius? What would we do if our doctor only operates when the mood is right? How would we learn if a teacher can’t teach until the stars align? How would we taste the sweet nectar of the beavers if beaver milkers…Too far?
Don’t get me wrong, I love a super-boost of electrical inspiration. It’s the spark to my fire but somedays it rains and I’ve got to light my own fire. Rub two sticks together or something and, yeah, it’s nice to know I can do it on my own. I can create my own inspiration with a little elbow grease and a few cues from Frankenstein. Hammer and nails. A little more brute force. Gritting my teeth and squinting my eyes. It’s almost there. Now, I just need a silly little google search and… You can milk beavers! Who knew?
Wait, who’d want to? Two words: Anal glands. I know! Ew.
Inspiration isn’t something that comes to us after we wish on a star and it’s not a tap we turn on and off. It’s us. We’re the inspiration. Go look in the mirror, focus on your eyes, and don’t look away. Keep looking. Don’t blink. There! Do you see it? For a second, there was a spark. You are all the inspiration you need to get it done.
Whatever it is you’re working on right now? Don’t look away. Don’t back down. Don’t sit and wait for the right moment. Inspiration is the result of a lot of hard work and a hefty dose of perseverance. If I can get a blog out of beaver milk then just imagine what you can do!