A client wrote to me not long ago to stay that her inspiration had stalled. It was both a statement and a lament. Writers tend to be preoccupied with the notion of inspiration–its presence or absence, its ease or struggle.
Inspiration is a lot like the weather—a blessing when it’s good and an inconvenience or disappointment when it’s not. It’s unpredictable, sometimes seasonal, or can catch us unawares, either positively or negatively.
Our minds trick us into thinking inspiration is, at least potentially, an achievable permanent state. Deep down we know it’s not. It can be as fleeting as a rainbow, or as glorious and transient as a sunset. We want such beauty and grace to be permanent and we struggle to accept that it can’t be. Yet still our work must get done. We must write in all kinds of internal and external weather.
When clouds roll in and sunshine is absent it’s good to remember that somewhere, high above the clouds, if you just rose high enough, you’d encounter blues skies and sunshine again. Even when it’s night where you are somewhere on the planet it is day. It can be comforting to know that what we want is always there, even if we can’t be in its presence at a particular moment.
When inspiration finds us at our desks, what joy! An unexpected and very welcome guest. But when it’s off shining on others elsewhere, we must trust ourselves to remain devoted to our craft, to be willing to show up rain or shine.
To inspire is to breathe, to take in breath. So to be inspired is to be breathed into, presumably by some other force. This is a gift when it comes. But we do come with apparatus to breathe on our own, without thinking, and while sleeping, so we can show up to do our work anyway. One breath at a time.
When inspiration stalls, remind yourself it will rev up again. Part of it’s magic lies in not knowing when or where it will find us.
Don’t wait on inspiration. If you work regularly and with devotion, inspiration will find you. Like happiness, inspiration is a by product of meaningful action. Keep working. Keep showing up. And when inspiration strikes, let it wash over you like a summer’s day or the awe that accompanies the sight of a rainbow or sunset. Inspiration’s power and joy arises from its fleeting and intermittent nature. In the meantime, breathe thoroughly and deeply on your own. The more you do, the more likely you’ll be breathed into now and again.