Are You Waiting on Inspiration or… is Inspiration Waiting on You?
Many people believe they have to wait for inspiration to do anything creative, but what if I told you… your inspiration is waiting on you?
Creativity plays a complex role in our lives. It’s not just limited to the arts. It’s a critical component to our success in all walks of life. It doesn’t matter if you are a writer or a business professional, you use creativity to create the life you have today.
Creative inspiration is like fueling a fire. You have to lay down the kindle and paper, then the wood on top. But, the fire doesn’t light itself. You have to be the one to strike the match and touch it to the paper to start. Sometimes it fizzles out and you have to strike the match two or three times. Keep going. Just take the very next step and strike again.
This is the perfect metaphor for writing, or doing anything creative. You can create the ideas and lay the groundwork, but that alone won’t start the fire until you make a commitment.
My late husband, David Peckinpah, was a shining example of a writer who wrote no matter what. He was a television and film writer and producer. He wrote every single day, even on weekends. The show had to go on! If he didn’t write, next week’s show wouldn’t go into production.
And so he wrote every day for 26 years.
I used to marvel at his commitment to putting his “butt in the chair” (as Stephen Pressfield says in his book, The War of Art).
David had a lot on the line with his writing… besides supporting a family, he had a show to produce with a cast and crew counting on him. But, it wasn’t always the obligation that drove him.
It was his sheer love of writing. He would come home from work wearing his “writer’s high.” His face glowed with the expression of creative fulfillment.
He never gave himself a back up plan or a way out. He committed to a career in writing and stuck with it until the day he died.
Did I ever love writing like that? I wasn’t sure… in fact I helped David develop characters and story lines for all of his shows, but I was certain I did not have the skill to write on my own.
I boldly stepped out of my comfort and wrote my first book after my daughter was born with a birth defect. I wanted to write a book for her that would make her feel like an empowered heroine. I wrote two other books after that… but I still didn’t feel like a writer. In fact, I would never tell people I was a writer.
I suspect it was a head game I was playing. Too much would be expected of me. If I called myself a writer, it meant I had to make a commitment to it instead of just writing when I felt like it. People often asked me when my next book was coming out, and I’d evade the answer to the question, because I didn’t know when I’d “feel” like it.
Many years later in 2013 I began my fourth book, and this time I discovered something new… the power of mindset and ritual. I actually began scheduling my writing time in my calendar just like it was my job.
It was a brand new contract with myself, demanding a whole new me. I committed to writing between 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm every night. There were times when client appointment times interfered, but I stuck to the schedule as best I could.
I began my book in February and had a completed first draft by June. I spent a month letting it “marinate,” and then began the editing process. By September, I mailed off my manuscript to the publisher.
There were rounds of corrections and galleys, and the addition of a Foreword by my best friend. I had a published copy of my book in hand by February, 2014, one year from when I began the process.
That year taught me that creativity and writing is as much about the commitment as the inspiration. And along the way, I discovered the “writer’s high.”
Inspiration alone does not make your creativity happen. It’s the commitment to your creativity that fuels your inspiration.
What is a commitment? It is telling your mind you WILL do this and making a strategic plan. It’s committing to a time, a place. It’s sitting down to do it even when you don’t feel like it. It’s telling yourself, you are a writer, or artist, or creative business professional… And then acting like one.
I don’t know why it took so long to commit to myself as a writer, over 2 decades! I often think of Jeff Goins, a powerful blogger and author who said to a friend, “I just want to be a writer.” His friend replied, “You are a writer, you just have to write!”
Kapow! That was the difference. Even though I’d published 3 other books, I never felt like a writer because my commitment was constantly wavering.
I’ve finally hit my stride and wear my badge as “writer” proudly. I am a writer, and I do write… every single day. In fact, I’m almost done with my fifth book. All it takes is a commitment, a ritual, and putting my “butt in the chair” and I return to the world of the creative high. Imagine how great that feels.
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