Searching for Inspiration

Searching for Inspiration

Inspiration is one of the most exhilarating, yet fleeting conditions of the human experience. When inspiration hits, it is hot and passionate and invigorating. It can make you mad with thoughts and feelings and determination. Everything becomes sharp, well-formed, musical. You are focused, able, confident.

Your heart beats in your chest as you relish the high that only inspiration can give you. The excitement is nothing short of dangerous. A wild look comes into your eyes and you feel the intensity in every inch of your soul.

And then it is gone.

You spend time searching for it. Blaming the lack of it for your reluctance to do what it is you do- paint, play, write. Seeking to regenerate the spark.

Because, indeed, it is a spark.

And it can be done. It took twenty days of writing before I really wrote, before some came from my fingertips that was art, even it is was sloppy and childish and undeveloped. Twenty days of writing, of inviting the spark, of coaching inspiration back into existence.

For twenty days, I wrote for 30 minutes. It often felt like a chore. I committed to writing and my partner in crime would remind me to do it. Sometimes, I would blow it off, surf Facebook, house hunt or check my bank statements. Sometimes, I spent the time and wrote down feelings, emotions, dictated the scene around me. Nothing generated. Nothing organically creative.

For me, I felt like a failure. I wondered if I had allowed something so core to my identity that I dread sharing too much of it with others to fade away. I wondered if I let “the real world” rob me of my essence, the softness of my cold New England heart that bleeds for Frost, Dickinson, Lowell and many more. I feared that I had made a mistake and allowed the drive for financial stability and the naysayers of creative ventures to sway my unsteady commitment to writing. I feared that my bed was made.

And then, in a moment of brief clarity, it was there. I felt it as I broke lines to create choppy phrases in a rough poem. I felt it as I exploited repetition to emphasize my opinion of the piece. I felt it wind down as real life started to call me back and self-doubt set in.

To feel inspired is to feel fearless. I share this story often with students before they are about to take an exam: When I was preparing for a solo performance, by instructor told me to feel inspired because the chakra that houses fear also houses inspiration and if I felt inspired than I would not feel fear as I stood before the audience.

And it worked.

Our lives are filled with excuses to fall into fear. Fear of failure. Fear of mockery, of wasting time, money. Fear of not being good enough. Even, fear of success.

It is not easy to replace fear or reluctance or indifference and acceptance with inspiration and motivation and determination. It took twenty days of determination before I felt a glimmer of inspiration.

To be inspired is to be fearless.

Setting Up For Success

Confession: Yesterday, I forgot to write.

Since June 1st, I set a challenge to write for thirty minutes every day. The purpose of this challenge was to address the time (or lack thereof) that I dedicated to an activity for me. Not for the boyfriend. Not for the child. Not for work. Not for school. I needed to dedicate time to the writer, an identity that I occasionally considered dishonest. How can I be a writer if I do not write regularly?

I wanted to set aside time to free-write, to gather fodder for bigger projects to come.  And, the exercise started off great. I wrote for thirty minutes. Sometimes, I would just put words on a page. Sometimes, I felt like I was actually getting somewhere. I wrote about my life, my feelings. I wrote about inspiration quotes and narrated the moment.

And then I started to shave that time. Maybe I would check on my bank balances or credit card statements while I set up my document. Maybe I would sneak-a-peek at my work email to see if I missed anything as I thought of something to write about. Sometimes, I would start the timer on the session and then get distracted with something else and never returned to the document.

Therefore, my dwindling commitment made it easy for me to forget to use the time I have been setting aside for writing. I got caught up with the nightly routine and was exhausted from a long week of work, school and house searching. Before I knew it, I was crawling into bed and the day was over.

When I did remember, I was a little annoyed. But I also realized that I have been cheating. I am not allowing myself the ability to fully engage with the process. I would start the timer when I’m tired. I would grumble about the additional commitment of my very limited time. I would search Pinterest, Facebook, and Zillow as I’m “thinking of ideas.” These are not effective writing sessions. I knew it then and I know it now. I have not been setting myself up to succeed.

The writer’s greatest enemy is herself. Success in writing may mean not giving into the hundred thousand different need demanding my attention at this moment. Maybe the needs wait. Maybe I find a better moment for writing.

Only twelve more days to go.