Waiting For Inspiration & Time

Joan Reeves

Books by Joan Reeves

Have you ever had an idea for something you’d like to create? It could be a quilt, a decorating project, a rose garden, or writing a book. A lot of people stockpile these projects for the summer since more daylight hours equals more leisure time, or so the theory goes.

Here in Texas, it’s definitely more comfortable to be inside working on a decorating project than outside in the heat and humidity. Of course, I think if you live in cold country, this might be reversed where you save up your creativity for the months when the weather’s too cold and icy to be outside.

Whatever the project you want to create, and whenever you plan to do it, have you ever noticed how time passes, and you never find the time to get started? The summer’s over, and those cross stitch table napkins you were going to do for your sister’s Christmas present just didn’t get done. Or maybe that goal of reading all of Jane Austen’s books again fell by the wayside. For writers, creative projects usually mean a book written “just for the fun of it” to see if, maybe, you can pull together a book in a different genre.

Why couldn’t you find the time to do what you wanted to do? Maybe you were inspired, but the inspiration cooled, and, suddenly, the project looked more like work than fun.

The Secret To Achievement

Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate of the United States, said: “If you wait for inspiration, inspiration’s going to go away and look for more fertile ground to work with.”

The way many aspiring writers work is the way most people work on anything drawn from the imagination: they wait for the “muse” to commune with them. However, there’s something all these people don’t know that professional writers have learned. Inspiration comes to those who work consistently, every day, on the creative project.

Do It Like Pro Writers

Regardless of what you want to achieve, I encourage you to work like a Professional Writer works. Professional writers don’t wait for inspiration before hitting the keyboard. We know that the part of the brain that spews words is like an old-fashioned water pump. If you don’t know how one of those water pumps work, let me enlighten you.

The pump has a long, cast iron handle. You pump the handle up and down vigorously. After a few seconds of pumping, water spurts out—unless the pump hasn’t been used in a long time. If the pump isn’t used regularly, you may have to pump and pump until your arm muscles scream in protest and you’re out of breath. It takes a long time for that water to spurt out. Sometimes, you even have to prime the pump by pouring water into it in order for it to start pumping water out again.

How Achievement Works

That’s how writing works. When you write every day, it’s easy to get that outpouring of words. But, if you write every now and then, when inspired, it takes a lot longer to get the words flowing. Many professional writers leave nothing to chance. They prime the pump every day by leaving a dangling thread that can easily be picked up the next day. They also may prime the pump by reading over what they wrote the previous day, editing it a bit, and then diving into the current day’s writing.

This holds true for planting a rose garden, stitching a quilt, or faux painting a wall. You can’t just work at it when you’re inspired. To complete anything like this, you have to work at it consistently until it’s finished.

If you stop and start, stop and start, the garden will be overgrown with weeds before the first rose ever blooms. The quilt will be a partially finished project haunting you every time you see it on the shelf in the closet. The wall will be a hideous mess that makes you ashamed if anyone comes to visit.

Frozen

Everyone has heard of writer’s block. I think it happens when writers who don’t write regularly have a difficult time getting the words to flow. Sometimes the flow is less than a drizzle, only a drip or two. If they give up then, it’s even harder the next day. Sometimes if they don’t persist and keep pumping that handle and priming that pump, the flow dries up completely. The longer they go without producing a flow of words, the harder it gets to squeeze a word out. That’s when they’re diagnosed with writer’s block.

You might as well call it creativity block because this same phenomenon afflicts anyone who attempts to create something from their imagination. If they stop working consistently on it, it never gets finished. What’s worse, every time you think of it, you feel guilty and overwhelmed. If you don’t follow through this time then next time it’s even easier to shelve the project.

Post Script

Consistency of effort finishes the painting, plants the garden, writes the book, and establishes the habit of finishing what you start.

(Joan’s Books are available at all major ebook sellers. Please visit JoanReeves.com and her blog SlingWords for more information.)

21 thoughts on “Waiting For Inspiration & Time

  1. Such good advice and so true! My mostly-finished book is begging for attention, which I give it almost every day. But I should work on it every single day without exception! You’ve inspired me to do just that.

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  2. I’m totally with you, Joan! I write every single morning as soon as I get up. Actually, I’m more inspired after I’ve had some sleep.

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  3. Joan, I love your pump analogy. I agree with you, postponing things makes it very difficult to start again. I have no problem with writing. So far all my manuscripts are finished and published (or about to be), but going to the gym, exercising and walking is what I keep postponing. And it’s getting more and more difficult to gather enough energy to start again.

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  4. Dear Joan, I agreed whole-heartedly with a consistent and persistent habit of writing. I am sure this applies to most art or craft or paths of education. I sure know it’s true with martial arts! Thanks for the reminder that craft and art shouldn’t be separate from our lives, but a daily part of them. Happy July!
    Leigh

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  5. Your post on actually writing being the best way to get inspired is too true! I wrote first thing this morning after not writing for a number of days, and sure enough I figured out what to write on the fly as my fingers tapped the keys and not a moment sooner!

    But as for that painting I started four years ago…not so much.

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  6. Great post, Joan. I have good intentions, but don’t always finish some things when I want to. I started a lap quilt several years ago, it’s still pinned together. How embarrassing is that? Setting my clock for 7 in the morning to write. Thanks for the inspiration.

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