For me, there’s a big difference between being inspired to write and having the motivation to write. One is about fun and ideas and flow and the other is about working towards a goal and keeping the end in mind.
I think that most books START with inspiration. You get that great idea, have that little voice whispering in your ear, or just get flat-out excited. It’s perfect to take those great feelings and get started! It’s that serendipitous moment that kick-starts the creativity.
Motivation is what keeps you going after the initial inspiration fades.
And inspiration probably WILL fade over time. Work ethic and the “I’m not going to let anything get in my way” take over and eventually, the writing gets completed. Motivation is a needed ingredient in your writing. But inspiration, ah, inspiration! Without it, nothing would get started.
Don’t for one second think that inspiration is limited to writing fiction! All writing is creative. You have to find the right order of words to express your thoughts. (If you’ve ever struggled to convey your thoughts you know what I mean!) In fact, MOST of my inspiration lately is about articles for the blog!
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t believe in writer’s block. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a LOT easier to write when inspiration is knocking.
5 Ways to Stay Inspired
1. When inspiration hits: WRITE
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, drop everything and get words on paper. Period. No excuses. Inspiration doesn’t come around every day so make the most of it when it’s around. I’ve scribbled article drafts on napkins and done character sketches on the back of envelopes. And yes, I’m THAT WOMAN who’s pulled over to jot a note in the dust of the hood of my truck.
2. Remember that feeling!
It won’t last forever so when you’re digging deep into motivation (and maybe finding the well empty) think back to the last time you were riding the wave on inspiration. Sometimes calling those feelings to mind is the only thing you need to get you going again. I once was writing a short story that woke me up at 4 am for three days. It was the most amazing feeling to be SO inspired. When I’m stuck, I vividly call up the feelings of sitting on my aunt’s cracked leather couch, hunched over the laptop with a backache and needing to set an alarm to remind myself to eat.
3. Continue to nurture your soul
Your imagination needs fertile ground so keep doing things that you know uplift you. Two big ones for me: being in nature and being in water. Do you ever wonder why I’m always talking about my latest camping or hiking trip in the newsletter? Because it feeds my soul and keeps me inspired!
4. Stay away from dream stealers
We all have circumstances in our life that kill creativity, dim the light in your eyes, and make us miserable. Avoid that at all costs! It’s hard to catch the inspiration bug when you’re too busy chasing the worry whatifs!
If you read an interview from any of the most prolific creative types: writers, novelists, painters, sculptures, photographers, etc. always say that they have TONS of ideas. I don’t buy that. I think what they really have is the deep, unshakable belief that they have tons of ideas. That belief creates a ton of ideas and allows them to tap into inspiration at will.
Don’t stress yourself out too much if you find that you’re tapping into your motivation more than your inspiration! It’s okay. Inspiration gets you started but it’s rarely enough to get the job done. I think of it like painting a wall in my house: all the pretty paint chips are so exciting, lined up in the hardware store. (Inspiration) But once the paint is mixed and in the gallon and I’m faced with drop cloths, painters tape, the ladder, cutting in, paint in my hair, and cleanup there’s no way that JUST inspiration will be enough to get the wall painted. I have to dig deep, make coffee and put on snappy music to get it done. (Motivation)
But without the WALL of awesome paint colors (and some that make me go “No WAY!”) nothing would ever get done!