Inspiration: A Vessel for Genius

As I begin to think about writing as a larger part of my life, I realize that I need to think about it differently.  In the past, I’ve written only when it is bursting out of me.  Only when there is that feeling in my chest that if I don’t put pen to paper I might explode.  Only when I am inspired.

But this seems to happen only on days when the honeysuckle moves just an inch to the right and the sun is at a 40 degree angle to the horizon except on even numbered days when the scent of decay is coming from the northeast.  Or, hardly ever.

In the last month, I’ve been making an (mostly, but not completely successful) attempt to write every day.  I’ve found that if I sit down and force myself to write, if I am actively searching for words and my muse, it shows up.  I don’t need to wait around until I feel like the scene from Alien is going to happen and creativity and words are going to splatter all over the keyboard.  I just need to write.

And yes, we’ve all been there.  There are some days when just showing up to write is incredibly painful. On days like that, this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert is incredibly helpful.  Your role in the creative process is to show up – to put in the work.  If you show up and put in the work and your genius doesn’t show up, that’s your genius’s fault.  You can show up and try again tomorrow.  But if you don’t show up at all…

Well, I will let her tell you.

And yes, it’s another TED Talk, but really, they don’t get old.


35 thoughts on “Inspiration: A Vessel for Genius

  1. Want to thank you for the whole blog, I think everyone who reads it will identify with your feelings and I love that you gave us the TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I found really engaging and stimulating. You will have seen that I’ve reblogged your amazing blog, hope that’s OK with you. Thanks again.

  2. I’m right there with you (and Elizabeth). I think it was Francis Ford Coppola of all people who when talking about writing said every day every day, no matter what you write if you write every day you’ll get better.

    For me that’s been terrific advice, and I write every day, and am getting better at it. So uh… let’s see what I’m coming up with today right! ? (as of this moment I have no idea haha).

    Thanks for sharing this, I love it.

  3. I love that video. I watched it a few months back and found so much good in it. I agree that 90% of it is just showing up, putting in the time and effort. When the inspiration comes, it’s better, but sometimes if we’re not courting the inspiration, it’s not gonna make an effort either. I will also say, though, sometimes nothing is better for a burst of refreshed energy than putting aside the effort and doing something that you’ve been procrastinating on, like cleaning out closets or a junk drawers, and then it’s suddenly like a bunch of freed inspirational energy shows up, and boom, you’re good to go. So…maybe it’s a little bit of everything, but discipline does play a key role. I agree.

  4. I’ve never seen this TED before, but I loved it. I’ve become a believer in writing every day. It seems to smooth out the process of getting words on the page. However, most of my inspiration for my stories comes at odd times, just as Ms. Gilbert described. When I’m out walking, late at night as I’m falling asleep, or even as I’m sitting playing cards. Most of the time, a small notebook helps to record the ideas, but not always. It is good to hear that I’m not the only one that goes through this process.

  5. I use a prompt every day and make sure I write a short story or a scene. I’ve been doing it since the first of January and now I have a wealth of stuff to revert back to. I’m so pleased with myself, and now, it’s a habit that’s definitely here to stay :)


  6. Yeah writing is definitely a muscle. Got to keep working it! Can’t watch the vid now, but you’ve built it up enough to make me want to come back and watch later. Great post!

  7. I love her, I wish I could watch the video but I’m at my workplace and I don’t have access. I’ve heard this advice about writing so many times, and it seriously seems like I need a gunman at my side to force me into this writing every day business. Thanks for the motivational words!

  8. Elizabeth Gilbert is great, I’m agreed with that, but writing should have a fun component that could be not forced as a smile forced to last… I’m not saying we should be always inspired, but at least to have some fun doing what we like. Setting a schedule fun becomes a routine job, and I think the result may lose freshness …
    Nevertheless, in your case it’s looking this is not affecting your writing… Lucky one :)

    • Yeah, I can totally see what you mean. For me, it can be difficult to get myself started, but once I sit down to write, I get completely lost in the words and images and am transported to this magical place. It’s never the writing that feels like drudgery. Only the process of getting to the point where I am writing.

  9. A really fascinating way of looking at the muse. With some people, like JK Rowlings, a finished product flashes into mind and they then have to transcribe it. My own process is to start with the glimmerings of an idea, and then let the characters take it from there. Quite frequently they will move in a direction opposite to what I had forecast, or do things for no reason that I could yet fathom, and I always find a ‘Wow!’ moment when that reason later emerges.
    With one book, the reason for a particular aspect (which I nearly took out again) only emerged in a sequel.

  10. Quite right. I find that because I make that daily effort to sit and write, on days when my cup doesn’t flow over, I sill find a nugget, a prompt, to get me going. :-)

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  13. Thank you for sharing this wonderful talk. Being an artist myself, all these things move through me in the same way. I have shared it on my Facebook, and hope the world gets to see your words and hers.

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