I’ll be honest. Though 100% of my income comes from creative endeavors…I don’t always feel inspired.
I don’t always want to write.
I don’t always want to design book covers.
I don’t always want to typeset a book.
I don’t even always want to work on sprayed edges or create beautiful pages or pretty up my website.
There are days and weeks when I don’t want to do any of the things that I do. Days and weeks when I’m tired and burned out and just don’t feel creative. There are days and weeks when I do all the normal things to jump start that creativity–I read and watch favorite movies or shows or try something new or just get extra sleep–and still. Nope. Don’t wanna. Don’t care. Don’t feel it.
And I can indulge that for a little while. I can give myself those times of refreshment and renewal for a few days or even a week, because I know they’re actually an important, crucial part of the creative process.
But here’s the thing…if you let a fallow time go on indefinitely, you know what you’re likely to stay? Fallow. Unproductive. Dormant.
At some point, you have to fire up the tractor and start plowing up those fields of creativity again. You have to start planting seeds. You have to get to work. And then…then the growth will follow. The flowers will bloom. The fruits will ripen. The harvest will come, eventually. But not until we get up and start moving.
So often, I have to get to work whether I want to or not–just like everyone else. And you know that saying about “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life?” Yeah, that’s nonsense. Even when you love it, it still requires WORK. It requires EFFORT. It requires MAKING yourself do things even when you’re not in the mood.
It’s supposed to. Because nothing in life always comes easily, with no problems to solve or inertia to push through or attitudes to overcome. Even the things we love take work.
No, wait. Let me rephrase that: Especially the things we love take work.
Think about it. The best, healthiest relationships don’t just exist from sheer luck. They’re solid, healthy relationships because you’re always tending them. And while most of the time that might be easy and fun, it isn’t always. You know that. Every married couple has to have hard discussions. Every best friend needs to be there through the times they’d rather skip. Every parent has cried tears over their child at some point.
It’s the fact that we put in the effort, that we deem it worth working for and at and on, that makes those relationships strong and healthy.
The same is true for our creative pursuits. Inspiration is, in a lot of ways, like a person. It comes for a visit on its own now and then, yes. When the mood strikes. But quite often, you have to be the one to invite it. You have to open the door to it. You have to feed it and get it talking. And then…then it opens up.
But not always–or even often–on its own.
I don’t always feel like being creative at the start of a day. The creativity comes because I sit down and start creating. I don’t always feel inspired. But when I start creating, the inspiration comes.
Ironic case in point: this very article. It was time to write my blog. I didn’t know what I wanted to write about. Quite frankly, I rarely know what I’m going to write about when I sit down. I just sit down. And I silently whisper a prayer. And I get started. I open up a new post, I stare at the screen for a while, and I start casting about for ideas. What have I been thinking about this week? What’s coming up in the next little while? What have David and I been talking about? And then I write a title. And then I come up with the words to match it.
When I write a book, I don’t always feel a strong drive do unfold this story right now, when it’s time to write. But it’s time to write. So I sit down, and I open my document, and I silently whisper a prayer, and I dive in. And then the characters take hold of me, the story lures me onward, and the inspirations comes.
Professional creatives don’t wait to be inspired. Professional creatives chase the inspiration. We sometimes have to wrestle it into the seat beside us. We work for that creativity. We work at it. We work on it. And you know what? When you’ve invested that much time and effort into building a strong relationship with inspiration…inspiration shows up for you. Just like your best friend.
Don’t wait for the mood to strike, my friend. Sit down and get started anyway. Create something. The inspiration will follow. It doesn’t like to feel left out. 😉