“Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it.”
~ Mark Manson
As a Business Coach then, it’s no surprise that I advocate content creation as a strategy for business growth, to most of the people I coach. Without hesitation, the most common response I get is something along the lines of, oh yeah but I can’t write on demand or I can only write when inspiration strikes. This post seeks to demonstrate why waiting for inspiration to strike before you begin a creative endeavour is the result of flawed thinking
Because, here’s the thing, inspiration is most likely to show up if and when we get our butts in our chair and get down to work. Whether it’s creating a masterpiece or just churning out your latest blog post, taking steps to begin is our best guarantee of the muse showing up to guide us.
I’ve known this to be true in my own life. Currently, as I write this I’m on day 28 of a 30 blog posts in 30 days challenge and you can trust me when I tell you that I didn’t feel inspired to write my daily blog post on most of these past 28 days. So many people have asked me how I’ve managed it, while at the same time telling me that they simply wouldn’t be able to do it. My answer is simple. I have on each of these 28 days sat down at my computer and started to write. Some days, I’ve had to drag the words out of me, some days they’ve flowed with ease but the one thing that has happened, without fail, is that the words have come.
Many of our world’s greatest creators have argued the point that in order to create, rather than wait for inspiration to strike, we must show up and sit down to do the work and the rest will follow.
Steven Pressfield, author of Turning Pro and The War of Art says:
“…she (the artist, the writer) doesn’t wait for inspiration, she acts in the anticipation of its apparition.”
What I love about this quote is that it implies a level of trust. When I first announced my content creation challenge, several people confided that they were worried they would run out of ideas and things to say. Allow me to take a moment now to tell you now that this is impossible. To fear running out of ideas is to imply that inspiration is a finite resources. Inspiration is, for sure, a mysterious thing. If we don’t get intimate with our muse, it can be forgivable to think that she might flake out on us, that there might be times when she leaves us hanging. But if you’ve ever leaned deep into your relationship with inspiration (aka your muse), you’ll know that if you play your part (butt in chair) she has indeed always got your back.
Novelist Isabel Allende was famously quotes as saying:
“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”
Liz Gilbert also speaks to this idea in her wonderful book, Big Magic when she writes:
“It’s a relationship, it’s a conversation, and all [the muse] wants is to be treated with respect and dignity — and it will return ten thousand times over.”
You don’t need to be a novelist or a famous artist to develop a relationship with your muse. You don’t need to be working on a masterpiece for her to show up, but you do have to be working on something.
In researching inspiration, I came across two definitions:
- The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative.
- A divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.
I thought it interesting that one definition talks of process and another of divinity. I liked this. I’m somewhat of a process person, I like the idea that I can follow a process that will churn out a healthy dollop of inspiration at the end of it, but an even bigger part of me likes the idea that inspiration comes from a place we cannot see, from something far bigger than us. That way, it’s not on me to come up with the ideas for my creations, I can tap into an infinite source of divine guidance whenever I show willing and, when necessary, a touch of patience.
I’m not saying that there aren’t hard days, when it feels like inspiration has packed her bags and left for good, but I’ve been writing and creating for too many years now to fall for that one. So the next time you tell yourself you can’t be creative unless inspiration strikes, just know that she’s watching you and waiting for you to make the first move.
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