How can one be inspired?

by Someone

Question: A problem I have been battling through my journey in writing is the lack of inspiration. I have leafed through countless author sites - this one being a personal favourite of mine - but have been thus far unable to find a suitable technique. I find myself going through days in which I feel sick at the very thought of writing. I have many ideas: that's not a problem. My characters are fantastic, my plot is fabulous, and my goal and perfectly achievable deadline and other people's support are all present and fantabulous.

But I lack inspiration.

People have told me, time and again, how incredible I am in my writing skill. I do not doubt it. And I love writing, a lot, and I really, really do want to write a book. I can imagine myself, holding my finished novel in my hands, and immediately I feel motivated. But the motivation only lasts for about a second, and then it is gone. At one point, I considered giving up, and trying it again in the future, but the thought of just quitting like that makes me sicker yet.

But I can't write.

Each time I sit and open up the story - the blank page, that is - my mind goes blank. I can, quite suddenly, think of a billion other things I would rather do. How about read that book I was thinking of reading? There's a movie I would like to watch, isn't there? Oh, now I feel inspired to draw! But never to write.

How can I fix this? How can I find inspiration? How can I fill up that horribly blank page? How can I find the will to do so?

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing your professional advice.

Response: Please don't take this as definitive device. I think every writer struggles with what you are describing. Some find their passion; some don't; and some find it eventually. And some write whether they are passionate or not because it's their job.

But you have provided a few clues as to what may be going on for you, so I'll address them one at a time...

1. You say you have lots of great ideas but "feel sick at the very thought of writing."

To me, that sounds like you are plagued by anxiety. Lots of people have a hard time starting. Sometimes it's because of the expectations we put on ourselves and our fear of failing to meet them. But there can be plenty of other or similar causes.

If you think anxiety might be your problem, I suggest you try an anxiety dissipation technique such as "Rub and Yawn." There's a link on this site to an instructional video...

Try following the video right before you start writing, using your anxiety as your chosen topic. It may take a few repetitions, but eventually the anxiety should dissipate.

2. You say you get inspired by the thought of holding a published book in your hands, but the motivation doesn't last.

Lots of people want to "have written" a book. What you need to do is want to "be writing."

See the difference?
The product is not the reward. The process is the reward. Publishing stories is just a way to eventually get enough money so you can write more. The goal is to spend your time writing. That's where the fun is.

If you can nurture that attitude, then you will look forward to each writing session and resent when you have to do other things. And then you will finish writing projects.

But if you see the product as the goal, you may find that having a book published is not so satisfying. It's anticlimactic.

Think of it as going on a vacation. Vacationing is fun. But when you get home, you say, "That's it. I went on vacation. Now its over." And you go back to your daily grind.

Writing is the vacation. Having written is the daily grind. Your goal is to be on permanent vacation.

Of course, you may find you don't actually like writing, in which case it's not for you. (Maybe you'd rather draw for a living?) Or you may find you really like writing once you take care of the anxiety as above and take the pressure of publishing off your shoulders.

3. You say you get distracted by other activities.

Life is full of distractions. You have to decide what matters to you. Most people are better off pursuing five goals in life than trying to pursue twenty goals. You won't accomplish twenty. You might accomplish five.

So ask yourself... On the day you die, what things will you regret if you haven't done them?

Will you regret not seeing more movies? (Probably not.)

Will you regret not spending more time on the Internet? (Probably not.)

Will you regret not reading more books? (Maybe. Depends which ones, doesn't it?)

What about never having a family? Never traveling to Europe? Never riding a horse? Never getting a college degree? Never going to the Olympic Games? Never volunteering to feed the homeless? (Heck, I don't know. It has to be your list. There's a million things that you might or might not regret.)

Will you regret never writing a book?

Make your list. Then realize something.

There are things in life that are urgent.
There are things in life that are not urgent.
There are things in life that are important.
There are things in life that are not important.

Most people know they should do the things that are both important and urgent, and never mind doing the things that are not important and not urgent.

Where most people screw up is that the spend too much time doing things that are urgent but not important, while neglecting the things that are important but not urgent.

The five goals on your list are important, but may not feel urgent. Writing a book usually falls into that category.

So what you should do is make sure you spent some time each day or each week working on the things that are important -- even if they don't seem urgent.

As you work on your top five, you'll be happier, because you will be doing things that make your life meaningful to you. And that will make everything easier.

Best of luck.

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