Why Inspiration is Overrated

hiking, California, Sierras, backpacking, camping

June 27, 2013 • Latest, Madness • Views: 611

Looking off at the Sierras at Eagle Lake in the Sequoias. Not inspired. Just feeling good.

Looking off at the Sierras at Eagle Lake in the Sequoias. Not inspired. Just feeling good.

Wait until you’re inspired. Wait until you’re inspired. Wait until you’re inspired. I’m not inspired right now. Play some video games. Go get a drink. Watch Sportscenter. Am I inspired yet? Still not happening. Maybe more video games. Maybe a book. Maybe a shower that’ll turn into a bath that I can use as an excuse for “treating” myself.

You don’t want to clean your room but you know you need to. You don’t want to do the dishes but you know you need to. You don’t want to work and get paid but you know you need to. Life isn’t boring. In fact it’s almost a little too overwhelming sometimes. That doesn’t mean we’re always inspired. What we do we need to work at. If I could I would eat ice cream and chocolate all day until I grew fat and died (I might still do this). It’s probably a bad idea.

A friend a couple weeks ago told me to wait until I was truly inspired before I wrote and if not, then to just put the writing aside for another time. I sort of snapped. (Only way to know if I snap is by looking me in the eyes. I’m an easy read.) I “get” inspiration. Sometimes the words just come out. Sometimes everything lines up and you take the perfect photograph. Or your body kicks into some other gear and you can run for miles. Everyone has their thing. If you have to wait to be inspired that thing ain’t going to become anything more than a hobby. I like to sketch and I like to play music. Both I do when I’m inspired to do them. I play the piano for about a month out of each year, my sketches just as much. They are hobbies and that’s fine. If I wanted them to be anything more (and I’d hope that I would have started earlier) the inspiration would have to turn into an expectation. An expectation of diligence and practice.

I got back from a camping trip with some friends Thursday night and though tired I was pretty eager to write about it. But my writing was shit. It was. I put it aside after 500 words or so and had at it again on Friday. There wasn’t much change. I edited what I wrote. I put down another 500 words. But the same result. Shit. I tried again Saturday but it really wasn’t happening. Altogether I wrote a solid 2000 words or so and most of it didn’t smell much better than week old gorgonzola.

On Sunday I returned to the topic and found what I wanted to say came out much easier. I don’t think I was any more inspired. In fact I know I was a little bit stressed out and anxious over things I needed to take care of that day. Often enough you need to write 3000 words to find 500 good ones (and that’s on a good day.) If I waited until I was inspired I might not have written anything at all. I would have sat and waited and waited and waited and instead of 3000 words I would have written 200. Inspired or not, those 200 probably would have sucked.

I’m currently not inspired at all. I feel like a lump of sweaty coal and I feel I could sit in front of my computer and play Civilization and Half-Life 2 all day and go into work without showering and eating and shaving. I could do that. There’s a part of me that wants to do that. But there’s also the things I know I need to do. I needed to write. I need to do some yoga. I need to take a walk. And, Hell, you know what? I need to take a nap too. Inspiration is overrated. Naps are the seasoning of life. How’s that for an aphorism?

© 2013 Christopher Dart

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