The Inspiration Trap

For centuries — maybe longer — an insidious lie has spread through the creative community; whispered from one generation to the next. A lie that has kept promising writers, painters, photographers, and filmmakers from achieving their potential. It is a simple idea that buries itself deep in the mind of the beginning artist like a parasite and slowly eats away their will to create.

We’ve all heard some variation of it: “You must wait for inspiration.”

This idea is so pervasive. Inspiration will come to you. Inspiration will strike out of the blue. Great ideas only come in flashes; in divine revelation to an artist worthy of the vision. And so we sit around waiting when we should be writing.

It’s a trap.

Some writers might make a living on intermittent bursts of creativity, but the rest of us can’t afford to wait. I suspect the majority of published authors sit down to write every day regardless of whether or not their muse bothers to show up.

All of my best work has come from the act of sitting down in front of my computer, often without a clue about what I was going to write and forcing myself to do the work. And yet, I’m in the trap right now.

When I started my new job and changed my whole schedule, I neglected to set aside a dedicated time to write. I thought, in spite of years of evidence to the contrary, that inspiration would strike at a convenient time and I would fire off several pieces ready for publication.

I’ve barely written a word.

I know I’ve been trapped in the quicksands of inspiration. I have to free myself. Only after I get back into the habit of writing each and every day will I find what I thought was going to find me. Inspiration isn’t going to tap me on the shoulder and start whispering lines of dialogue and prose into my ear. A set routine will draw out the stories already percolating in my subconscious.

I’m tired of waiting for inspiration. I’m going to find it myself.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. His short story, The Observable Universe, was published on Creative Colloquy in July.

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