Why You Should Stop Looking for Inspiration

Why You Should Stop Looking for Inspiration

Reader Comments (43)

  1. Nice advice James.

    Just to add to what you’ve said, I think it’s also vital to learn how to make the most out of those periods when we can seemingly do no wrong.

    I know I have days where it just all seems too easy, and I could write endlessly.

    Attempting to capitalize on these periods when we can, should be mandatory.

  2. Over time and through countless wasted hours, I’m starting to learn to stop striving for perfection on the front end.

    My best ideas come to me in the process of fleshing out inferior and soon-to-be-discarded ideas–but there is no short cut.

    So I try to write with greater abandon, knowing most of what I’m writing isn’t worth fine tuning and embracing that a major rewrite will come.

    In short, begin screwing up faster and a gem will jump out.

  3. I agree with previous commentor, inspiration just happens… most of the time. However, always “seeking” it could leave a blogger into a dark tunnel of no content, writer’s block… I try to have a balance, of seeking inspiration and creating my own. Great post!

  4. Great advice! Writer’s block is hard to deal with. Usually, if you’re trying to come up with ideas, you hit a bump in the road. It’s best to distract yourself, and that’s when I find I come up with the best ideas.

  5. To overly cliché: Inspiration is usually about two ideas connecting together. It’s much easier to do that when you have at least one of the ideas already out there on the page.

  6. I agree with your statement that most creative works come by sheer accident. It’s hard sometimes to naturally want to be creative and just think of something. Most of the time it just comes by accident. Of course it is always hard not to stress out if you are in a rush for something creative.


  7. Hi!
    I believe in this approach. It comes when it’s ready. Just you be ready.

    I find it important to do my part to remain a receptive vessel.

    Essential to be a place inspiration wants to land.

    Thanks so much!


  8. @ Craig – For many people, it’s not about being in a rush. They sit down to write and BLAM. Loss of inspiration. (Maybe we writers shouldn’t sit down any more…)

    @ Daniel – Actually, inspiration is a stimulation of the mind; nothing more, nothing less. Connecting two ideas usually gives a burst of more ideas, agreed, but that’s not what inspiration typically is, at its core.

    @ MLD – I carry around paper and pen everywhere I go because god only knows when that GREAT IDEA will hit me. Driving is usually one of those spots (which is why I’m getting a voice recorder before I drive into the ditch!)

    @ BME – I think plenty of writers do that dark tunnel thing. It’s nasty in there!

    @ Chuck – Hm, that’s interesting! I’ll have to try that. Most of my best work comes when I completely give up and say, “To hell with it, I’m starting over.” Then I write freely and voila!

    @ Armen – If you mean banking up the draft material while you’re on a high, I’m with you there!

    @ Ali – Mm, I’d have to disagree. I think new writers have a ton of inspiration. Those who’ve been at it for a while are the ones who are tired out and word down. They need that shift in thinking.

    @ Steve – You can’t find it, but you sure can provoke it 🙂

    @ Brian – I’ll bring the beer. You bring the pizza. Who else is coming?

  9. Briliant. I could not agree more. Usually in my stories or anything that I am writing and get stuck, I just throw something out there. Most of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with the post or story at all, for instance the main carachter decides to drop a marshmellow off a bridge and witnesses the chain of events that unfold.

    From that, I usually get another idea for a story and get a fresh perspective on the story that I am currently working on. It is almost like a win-win.

  10. I have found this article to be very inspirational! But I’m going to ignore that feeling because of how inspirational this article has been. Excuse me, I need to go write now…

  11. People who are defending the “inspiration just happens” theme need to read a thin tome called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It’s based around a great quote by Somerset Maugham, “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

    And that’s all you need to know.

  12. @ KG – I don’t think inspiration just happens. I think you need to provoke it and ensure an environment that stimulates the mind to create a situation where inspiration *does* occur.

    Because like money, inspiration never fell from the sky.

  13. i’ve often found inspiration to be most elusive whenever i’m actually reaching for it. when i want to write that killer copy, or come up with a hypnotic hook… i can’t think of crap.

    but, when i sit outside, cigar in hand and just BE i get my best ideas. i simply shape those ideas when i come in and sit at the keyboard.

  14. Inspiration…

    What to write,
    what to write.

    You look at the
    with resignation.

    You’re done.
    You’ve had it.
    Its not gonna happen

    Start button,
    shut down.
    No power.
    Head for the shower.

    Ah, water feels great,
    random thoughts…


    heart races,
    feet headed for
    the computer.

    Keys pounding.

    What just happened?


    An inspired comment about inspiration.

  15. If you actually have something to say, you won’t need inspiration, you will just say it.

    Whether you call it inspiration, writers block, or any other of a hundred labels, a good majority of the time you don’t have anything to say and you are trying to force it.

    Have something to say and your problem will be editing…not trying to get inspired.

  16. Potato Chef, that’s an interesting thought. I don’t know that I agree wholesale, but it is interesting.

    Often writer’s block is about HOW best to say something rather than what to say, so your point doesn’t apply there, but otherwise, I think you touch on something worth thinking about.

  17. As Sam Donaldson said (on national TV): “Get the mouth working, and the brain will follow.” I ROFLMAO’ed that one. But I think about it often, and I believe he’s right.

    Same with writing to meet a deadline. The key is to start writing and the good stuff will follow.

  18. Well, I know what has always been a constant inspiration for me: having old pictures or past bank statements of a time in my life when I really didn’t have much of anything.

    Seeing those reminders always keeps me grounded and lets me reflect on the choices I’ve made to get me where I am today; a much happier place where I never will go back…

  19. great advice! i used to think that blogging was easy, but it was only after becoming a blogger myself that i realised that coming up with entertaining, informative and interesting posts on a frequent basis takes a lot more effort and time then i would have imagined. sometimes i get stuck in a rut without any inspiration, and the next time that happens, i will be sure to use these tips!

  20. Great blog, refreshingly unique and clever!! I love the reference to Frankie Goes to Hollywood–gotta love, “Relax, Don’t Do It.” In my experience as a writer, inspiration sneaks up on you when you least expect it. If you try too hard to look for it, it won’t reveal itself. In my case, I need to grab a pen right away to write down that oh-so-fleeting brilliant idea before it slinks away into my incredibly flaky and unstable memory.

  21. Funny, after reading this article, I have found it to inspire me lol. I really like the part about asking “What If” and then to start writing. My imagination always goes to full throttle when I start What If’ing everything.

  22. I have a wonderful friend who one day decided that he was going to move at a right angle to time and space, you might not mean to move that laterally but thinking about similar ideas on the same subject and expanding your expertise into closely related areas is a great way to help exercise your mind while not having to search too far for inspiration.

  23. Well we know that blogging is not as easy as they said , it take more time , and it makes us think and learn about new thing around.
    I think bloggers can be a good journalist for a magazine as we are always keep looking for a new information ..lolz 🙂

  24. I think some writers, or some types of writing, don’t really require inspiration. Poetry…your novel…fine, get yourself wound up looking for a “muse.” But some writing you just have to “do.” Copywriting is easy (for me) to just do. Then when it comes time to my “craft” I can usually get that done because I’m not incessently searching for something 40+ hours a week!

  25. Great piece. Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, found a few years ago in FAST COMPANY MAGAZINE.

    Eva Zeisel said:

    “If you want to be creative don’t try to do something new. Doing something new means NOT doing what’s been done before and that’s a negative impulse. Negative impulses are frustrating. They’re the opposite of creativity and they never yield good ideas.”

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