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The Truth About Inspiration

Celeste Chin

How many times have you carved out time for writing and your inspiration didn’t get the memo? You sit down at the computer ready to write, kids aren’t home, wash is done, house is clean and you’re ready. But as you put your fingers to the keys, you’re forcing the thoughts to come. You begin putting sentences together and telling yourself you can edit them later–produce something creative out of the mediocrity. You sit back, examine the screen, glance at the clock, and get excited it’s 11:30. You’ve made it to the acceptable time for a lunch break, a non-guilt provoking excuse to close the screen–which you’ve been wanting to do since you sat down.

After switching the wash to the dryer, a quick bite to eat and a check of the mail box, you sit back down reluctantly. No more inspired than the morning. You open the screen, surf your emails, then flip to the internet reading the latest stories about Meghan Markle or how you’ve been eating pineapple the wrong way all these years.

Defeated and frustrated you find solace in your day ending, curling up with the latest bestseller until you drift off. But then, after waking up and half-way through your shower routine, it hits you like a brick. You dry off, throw on your yoga pants as you repeat the words in your head fearing they will fly out before you can get your fingers to the keys. You rip open your computer and let the words flow. You’ve made more progress in thirty minutes than in the last three days. And even though you need to get the kids to school and yourself to work, you’ve captured those thoughts, like lightening in the bottle, to come back to later when the demands of life allow.

Am I suggesting that you shouldn’t open that computer unless you are flooded with creativity? No, but I am suggesting that creative writing is a process and one that doesn’t only occur at the computer. Just because you plan to write at a certain day or time, doesn’t mean you will be able to effectively convey the story you want to. Sometimes, you need to accept that the words aren’t flowing, walk away and let your mind get embedded in other things. Get out and do–embrace the idea that writing can occur beyond the keyboard. Let your mind relax and get lost in the minutiae of life, listen to others, and find the creative story in and amongst the ordinary. Read, watch a show or movie or listen to music. Inspiration will reveal itself when you are most open and not when you are stuck and forcing the mind to create when it’s not ready. Remember writing is a process and sometimes, to move forward you have to take a step back.

Celeste Chin