The clock strikes a significant hour. On cue, the stomach growls for sustenance while visions of steaming dishes dance in the head. Where do we find the inspiration for yet another meal?
Some leap up to snag a cookbook and flip through recipes. Others yank open the fridge door and ponder the available ingredients. There's also internet searches and food magazines with glossy covers depicting delectable treats. Few can resist an article that promises to detail how we too can whip up a gourmet meal in thirty minutes or less.
"Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working." –Pablo Picasso
The common denominator here is action. Whether staring into a refrigerator or skimming through Joy of Cooking, the significance lies in action. We hope that some kernel of inspiration will pop up faster than a Pop Tart.
"We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action." ~Frank Tibolt
Whether our goal is to compose the perfect sentence or cobble together a tasty meal, we need a constant source of inspiration. Yet, what exactly is inspiration? Is it simply a new idea?
Thinking about the symbol of a radiant light-bulb beaming overhead, two thoughts occur.
First is the metaphor of The Idea being electric and illuminating, banishing the darkness with clarity and clear perception. The feeling evoked by the word 'Inspiration' convinces us that unless we experience a brilliant burst of illumination, we simply are not inspired. This can lead to waiting around, tapping our fingers, shuffling our feet, waiting for that bold lightning strike from the heavens above which will inscribe dazzling words into the air and provide us with a burst of energy so magnificent we'll zip through each chapter with rare speed and bubbling enthusiasm.
The second thought that occurs is the reality of the potent symbol. The Light Bulb. How did that come about again?
"Thomas Edison dreamed of a lamp that could be operated by electricity, began where he stood to put his dream into action, and despite more than ten thousand failures, he stood by that dream until he made it a physical reality. Practical dreamers do not quit." --Napoleon Hill
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." ----Thomas Edison
Edison was simply a man who did not give up. He didn't sit around contemplating his goals. He took action. Repeated action. Mind-numbing repetition until he got it right. Inspiration was a result of his determination and his action. Which really makes sense. When we think of inspiration as merely the flash of an idea, we truly miss the point and even diminish the concept.
Helen Keller may have experienced a flash of illumination when she first perceived that the movements of her teacher's fingers in her palm were linked to letters that magically spelled out a word. However, her inspiration was renewed each and every day by her determination, her drive and her action. How long do you think her inspiration would have lingered had she stopped striving to surpass each day's success with yet another?
"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." --Helen Keller
One of my favorite methods for renewing inspiration is to reread the last pages I wrote. Notice I said, 'renewing' because the original inspiration still exists. It doesn't go away. Perhaps the light has dimmed somewhat, which makes the goal to flip that switch and power on to full illumination. Still, perusing the previous day's work may not be enough. My enthusiasm might be pumped but I still may stare helplessly at the blank page wondering what the hell to write next. Here's where I employ my second strategy—Action.
"Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, with takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice." –Arnold Toynbee
"Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action." ~Walter Anderson, The Confidence Course, 1997
The only true way I've found to bust through writer's-block buster is to write. I keep an ongoing Free-Write document for every story. Here I can play with scenes or brainstorm freely without worrying because It's Just My Free-Write File And So It Doesn't Count. Woo-hoo!
Hmmm... So, if Lucy really wants to get into Ricky's show, maybe she and Ethel can pretend to be waiters then when they get close to the stage, Ethel distracts Ricky while Lucy whips off her fake moustache and waiter's apron and jumps into the spotlight! Yeah!
Attitude plays a big part here too. Action must be accompanied by a firm belief in success even if at first you're just pretending. Seriously. Think about it for a moment. The first time a person picks up a musical instrument, there's no assurance there will be success. The budding musician must, in essence, 'pretend' she can play even as her fingers struggle to stay on the proper notes.
"The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common sense." –Thomas Edison
It may sound simplistic or even silly but trust me, Edison didn't invent the light bulb by daily assuring himself that he was a failure, that he was wasting his time, that he was too old, or that he didn't know what he was doing.
"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." –Thomas Edison
So… first let's do an attitude readjustment. I am a brilliant, successful writer.
Second, let's take action. Whether your goal is to write a page, a scene, a chapter or even a blog, start writing!
"You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you'll get to tomorrow. Intention without action is useless." —Caroline Myss
Remember, it's what we do that determines who we are and what we will accomplish. We may dream of what we could do or we could… just do it. *grin*
"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do." -- Epictetus
"Genius begins great works; labor alone finishes them." --Joseph Joubert
Here's to an action-filled week!
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between The Lines.