Writing on Demand – Inspiration vs Perspiration

So today I have been musing upon where inspiration goes when it goes! Is there a giant cloud upon which all the inspiration gathers once it has floated off and left a person? Does it sit there mocking those that try to write without it? Does it leave undeserving people and are some blessed permanently with it? Is it just luck where and when you find it and lose it? Can you catch it again or is it like trying to grab a fish in water? And the 64 thousand dollar question, can you still write without it?

Writing for other people is a tricky business. In some ways it feels like you are selling out, even though you know you have to make a living, and you deserve to be paid for your work because it is good, it still feels a bit …well….wrong.  Today I spent a long time looking at the computer screen, having already written over 1000 words over three different topics, inspiration had left the building! Perhaps there is a time limit or should I say a word limit on inspiration. Perhaps I should count myself lucky that I got 1000 words?

Who even knows what inspiration is, it’s so indefinable, it feels spiritual and otherworldly, it seems to be something that all artists gain and loose at various moments.  How many times have we heard about artists needing muses to work, or authors getting writers block? One of my favourite authors Irvin D Yalom,  in a last ditch and very unique attempt to help a woman suffering from various issues, not least of which was severe writers block, suggested that she write down her experience of therapy, saying all the things she could not say in Yalom’s presence. Yalom (her therapist) also did the same, and several months later they swapped notes in what must have been a very brave exchange, the resulting notes and words and reflections ended up in Yalom’s book “Every Day Gets a Little Closer – A twice told therapy”. Did it help? One day I’ll finish the book and let you know, but I’ll save procrastination for another blog post!

Having to write can be cathartic, it can open the flood gates for inspiration to come back in, having this blog helps, it seems in some way to re-soak the sponge. Perhaps that’s it – perhaps inspiration always exists within us and it just needs replenishing before you can draw on it again.

I would love to hear where other people get their inspiration from, what replenishes your sponge?


About amywriting

I love words. I love the way they sound, the meaning they have, the way that they are used. I love their power, their creativity and how descriptive and evocative they can be. Any chance that I get to be creative and use words well gets me very excited. I love poetry, song, art, music, photography, baking, creating, experimenting and laughing!

Posted on June 27, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Sometimes I think there are different levels of inspiration – there is the inspiration to just keep going and pushing through, and then there is the really exceptional inspiration that brings the great ideas. The latter doesn’t appear as regularly, but I think if you have the first, you have a better chance of discovering the latter. I used to work in a cafe in Cape Town, and there was this weird old retired professor who came in every morning for a plate of scrambled eggs & two cups of black coffee. I suspect he had some alcohol issues, and he never smelled very fresh. He used to talk very loudly, including at and about the other diners – but all in a good humoured way, that usually involved inappropriate but humourous innuendos about the female staff. Once he’d finished with all of that, he’d grill me on how my masters thesis was coming along. I was really struggling with writer’s block, and trying to get my thoughts in order – had been for weeks. His advice was that I needed to go home and write shit. And keep writing shit – no matter how shit it gets – because if you keep writing for long enough, eventually something good will come out. So I spent the next two days writing shit, and eventually something good started to come together in my head, and I wrote the best paper I could have dreamed of. I don’t think inspiration just appears if we sit still long enough. I think it comes when we work for it.

    Two little things… don’t focus on word counts. I noticed you do that with your essays – don’t take it into your writing. Focus on what you are saying. Word count isn’t important – getting your point across is. And the second thing, be clear on the difference between ‘loose’ and ‘lose’… 🙂 Apologies for being a grammar freak! xx

  2. Thanks for the grammar tip! You looooooose the will to live after a day of writing so much so that grammar checks go out the window! I’ll send all posts your way for proofreading! A couple of things! When you get paid by the word count, word count is important. I suppose in the same way that if I was asked to write a jingle for a car hire company, I wouldn’t write a 3 and a half minute song with 3 verses, 2 choruses and a bridge, and relatively speaking I wonder if I would put as much effort into the jingle as I would the song, which really raises issues of integrity and making sure I’m putting in 100% no matter what the job is. Writing for a specific (often boring) subject that people want SEO keywords weaved into as well, stifles the creativity somewhat, although I am sure I will get better at it.

    I think you are right about there being different kinds of inspiration, in following my inspired sponge metaphor, a day of writing on demand about subjects that don’t really inspire, means that you get saturated! I found at the end of the day today I just didn’t have anything else left in me! Perhaps four articles and a blog post is my limit at the moment. So I think breaks and topping up in some way are the way forward for me! I don’t know how you keep a high standard of work across lots of work. I think I am just trying to reassure myself that it is possible to write on demand, for money and still create something wonderful. I guess questioning your integrity is part of the process! It’s all still very new!

    Interestingly I am finding that I need to have a plan and a hook for an article or blog post in much the same way that I need to when I am doing an essay too! Next time I need some inspiration I am going to call you. x

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