Happy Monday everyone!
I’m prepping for my politics exam at the moment, which consumed a relatively large portion of the weekend (it also meant getting this up and ready was a challenge). It’s fascinating stuff, if pretty complex; I can foresee this area of my study spawning some politically-oriented posts in the future (hopefully I can keep it theoretical and avoid having to actually understand contemporary Western politics), but for now, I’ve generously decided to keep this post apolitical. You’re all welcome.
I can’t help but feel that, in terms of creative endeavour, inspiration is often held up to be this wondrous, mythical beast we’re all in wild pursuit of, but only catch every so often (usually when you’re in the shower, about to fall asleep, driving for the next six hours or in the middle of an exam – somewhere extremely inconvenient). We tend to treat inspiration in the same way we treat motivation: it’s something that alights upon us in a stream of light and a shower of fairy dust, or we’re left frustrated and lost, cursing its conspicuous absence.
But I’m just not so sure it works that way. Writing, for me, is a decision. Not motivated to sit down at my desk? Too bad. Not inspired about what I’m going to put on the page?
Suck it up.
If I’ve decided that I’m going to write every day, then I will. Obviously there will be times when life gets in the way, because that’s what life does (especially around exams or assignment deadlines for me right now): but if we wait until we’re motivated or inspired to do something, it may never happen. In fact, when you take into account the growing busyness of people’s everyday lives, its more than likely that it won’t.
When you’re trying to write, reality is a kick in the face – there’s working, studying, cleaning the house, sport/gym, tending to the spouse/children/social life/extraneous stuffsies – that rattles your teeth around and can knock dreams out cold. It means that, often, there’s not a lot of juice left for writing. Believing that we’re dependent on the materialisation of inspiration in a puff of smoke sets us up for failure, because if it doesn’t come, we believe we can’t write.
That is not true.
You can make yourself write about anything. Sure, it might be terrible, but it’ll be something. That doesn’t sound all that encouraging, but it’s actually incredibly empowering: you don’t need anything other than yourself to write. Just you, and that weird and wonderful brain you’ve got up there in that brilliant noggin of yours. Even better, the crazy thing is that the more you do it, the more your mind will learn to find brilliance in the mundane. It will continually surprise you with its ability to create something out of nothing.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t rejoice when you do find inspiration. Last week, I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep (so of course, my brain was whirring) and thinking about the #ThruThurds topic of ‘feathers’. Now, at this point, I’m 99.9% sure I’ve never used the word ‘feather’ in my novel (kind of hard to be completely certain when the majority of your novel isn’t typed, so ctrl+f isn’t all that helpful), so I had nothing to contribute. But lying in bed and thinking about it gave me any idea for a new character (or race: who knows? I like to be a little bit shellshocked at the direction my novel goes in, despite the fact I’m the one holding the pen), which just goes to show that sometimes you really can make something out of nothing… Or that inspiration is everywhere, and we just have to teach ourselves to be really, truly open to all the possibilities.
Happy new week of writing humans (and any other species following this blog)!