In the Creative Catalyst Circle, we’ve been talking about not those times when you just don’t feel inspired to write…and this subject got me inspired to think about being inspired. I’ve spent years practicing listening to my inspiration and playing with the ideas that come from inspiration, and I’ve also discovered the life changing magic of learning to give inspiration the space to be felt.
There are (at least) 3 types of ‘not inspired to write’
1. Inspiration inertia
If you haven’t written for a while, that ‘not inspired to write’ is probably because you haven’t written for weeks, months or even years. Sit your ass down and write. Give inspiration a chance to break through the layer of dust sitting on your project. Trust me, if all published authors waited to “feel inspired” to write, most of them would not be published.
2. Inspiration hide and seek
So, you’ve been working on your project and some days it flows beautifully, other days, it feels like walking uphill through treacle, with steel boots on. Some days you can’t wait to get to it, other days, the word “resistance” in the dictionary could have your picture as the definition. Ugh. The temptation is to ‘wait’ to feel inspired. Don’t do it. Sit your ass down and write.
Again, give inspiration a chance to break through. Give yourself a bit of discipline, give yourself a chance to get inspired, give yourself a chance to learn about your process. All sorts of things can cause inspiration to hide – tiredness, needing a break from the project, distraction, fears and doubts coming up, brain fry, resistance that comes up for all sorts of reasons, or even just inspiration not getting the chance to come out because you haven’t sat your ass down to write! But you’ll never find out what’s getting in the way if you just ‘leave it until you feel inspired’.
One of my clients had been doing just that and felt the project was taking forever. So she started sitting down every day to work on it, whether she felt inspired or not – to her surprise, 9 times out of 10, the work started to flow and inspiration came just because she gave it a chance to do so.
3. Genuine ‘no inspiration’
Some days, it’s just not happening. You may be tired, have brain fry, need a break from your project, or just genuinely not want to work on it today. I recommend to my clients that they give it 20 minutes – after that time, if it’s still not happening, go do something else! 20 minutes is usually enough to either set inspiration rolling, find the resistance you’re bumping up against, or discover that the muse does not want to dance with you today.
Sometimes that lack of inspiration can drag on forever but not necessarily be ‘wrong’. I have a book that I haven’t ‘felt inspired’ to write in the pipeline at the moment….I got the idea back in 2007! Ten years on, I’m feeling the tap on my shoulder of inspiration. In the intervening 10 years, I’ve written about this subject A LOT – I suspect at least 30% of the book is already written.
I’ve also, just in the last year, found a missing piece…that I didn’t know was missing. I could have forced myself to write it, but it felt like ‘it wasn’t the time’ so I didn’t. Trust in yourself – check are you ‘shoulding’ about writing your book, or are you genuinely feeling the call of what wants to be created? Are you making excuses to put it off, or is it just not the right time yet? You know the answer to those questions when you get quiet enough to check in with your guidance.
Are you recognising inspiration?
Inspiration doesn’t always look like a lightbulb going off over your head and frantically writing down the multitude of ideas flowing through your mind. Sometimes it looks like this (for me, often when I’m trying to be asleep, annoyingly!), but sometimes it looks like a nagging feeling that you need to pick up the project. Sometimes inspiration feels a bit more like frustration that you’re not working on the project.
Sometimes inspiration puts on work clothes and clips you round the ear! Learn to recognise the different faces of your inspiration.
Feed inspiration and it will feed you.
Sometimes it feels like we have to wait for inspiration to come to us…but it’s not all one way traffic – are you feeding your inspiration? Do you know what feeds and dulls your inspiration? For example, one of my clients used to scroll through facebook when they were feeling uninspired…and it didn’t help them! I suggested meditation instead, connecting to the infinite and quieting the mind enough to hear the voice of inspiration. That worked much better for them.
Another client is inspired by other people’s work, and before they start writing, they go read other people’s stuff to spark off their own ideas. Personally, I find that sometimes inspiration hits me when I read something else (it happened last week actually) but silence, meditation, nature and space to be inspired are more nurturing to my inspiration.
Make sure you’re not just expecting inspiration to do all the work!
Learn about your inspiration, find out what it needs, find out what feeds it, what wakes it up, what dulls it, and when it’s resting and needs you to leave it the hell alone so it can recharge.
The more you understand what your inspiration looks and feels like, the less you will find that you ‘don’t feel inspired’ and the more you will give inspiration a chance to get through to you. It’s pretty normal to feel uninspired sometimes – I don’t know any writers who don’t feel that. So welcome to the club…and don’t take ‘uninspired’ as a reason not to write, take it as a sign to explore and invite inspiration in…and if inspiration refuses that invitation, invite her again tomorrow!