When the Inspiration Isn’t There

by Starla J. King on June 19, 2013

It’s not always there, the inspiration to write.

That great truth came as a shock to me.

My earliest memories of writing (elementary school age) are of words easily coming to me and forming poems on the page.  Average time per poem was somewhere around 5 minutes (10 if it had the extra pressure of being written for a girl I had a crush on… but I didn’t realize that back then 🙂 ).  Journal writing was a flood of easy expression that came from my absolute trust in my journal hearing, cherishing, and keeping confidential my every word.

So of course the same should happen now that I’m a writing coach, writing a book, regularly writing for my 2 blogs, journaling, and keeping a steady daily writing practice.  Right?

Apparently… *heavy sigh*… not.

Some days the inspiration to write  is .  just  . not  . there.    And honestly, that kinda breaks my heart, because what is creative writing if not a constant well of inspiration?? 

Turns out it’s an incredibly powerful practice ground for life.  

What do we do when we can’t seem to find the inspiration in life (or writing)?  How can we keep the faith (or not)?  How do we still show up for life (or writing) when we just want to kick it all to the curb and curl up into a frustrated crying ball under the covers?

Well, here’s what I’ve learned through writing — and I believe it also applies to life:

5 Steps for Re-finding Your Inspiration*

  1. Pretend through action:  Pretend you’re inspired, and go through the motions of inspired work and life, no matter how small or slight those actions.  Sometimes the Universe just needs to see that we are in action.
  2. Notice and move on: If action doesn’t quickly turn things around, acknowledge that you’re uninspired or stuck.  Look that reality in the eye with fierce compassion.  Then continue taking action.
  3. Back off: If your actions don’t spark inspiration, then back off — literally.  Stand up and back up from your workspace or thinking space and remove your hands from the keyboard or notebook.  Mentally back off from the effort of trying to wrangle inspiration into your life.   Then after a few minutes of respite, return to your work/writing.
  4. Leave your workspace: If you’re still tying yourself in knots trying to squeeze inspiration out, completely leave your workspace, and take your tangled thoughts and feelings out for a walk.  Take 15 minutes to meander (outside if possible) and pay such close attention to all your senses that inspiration gets a chance to sneak in.
  5. Reboot.  If after all this, you’re still unable to connect to inspiration, reboot.  Turn everything off (no expectation, no self-flagellation, no fighting, no pressure), surrender to the inner plea for rest, and wait for inspiration to show up and nuzzle your hand.  It might be a few minutes, or hours, or even day(s), but give it as much time as possible.  Do some other unrelated tasks, do nothing, listen to music, read Rumi or Ushi, make granola for breakfast and curry for dinner, listen to your cat snoring, plan your next vacation. Chances are, you’ll soon feel a slight shift, sense a flicker of a spark, and once again inspiration will offer itself to you.

May we always wait with open arms to welcome inspiration back, and always be given the relief of holding her in our arms again.

Cala lily closeup

 *these 5 steps are part of my Court Your Muse eCourse (find more info here). 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

marybeth gregg June 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm

This is a really wonderful piece – on noticing, on backing off and letting it come in. A great metaphor for life as well!

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Starla J. King June 20, 2013 at 11:19 am

Mb, this piece is a result of so many times I have tried to force out those words, and it simply doesn’t work that way for me. So, yes, notice, back off, let it come in.
xo

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Julia Barnickle June 20, 2013 at 5:13 am

I so needed to read this right now, Starla! Perhaps inspiration is the reward for showing up, while at the same time staying relaxed, surrendering and being open to whatever the results might be, rather than trying to force a specific outcome.

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Starla J. King June 20, 2013 at 11:20 am

Ah, so glad this is timely for you, Julia (and confession, it was timely for me, as I needed to re-find inspiration myself this week!). I love your idea of inspiration being our reward for the way we approach writing.

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