Inspiration And The Half-Way Point

Well, it’s Day Fifteen of The Molesworth Diarist’s 31 Day Blogging Challenge and I have to tell you, I’m pretty pleased I’ve made it this far. I think I’ve mentioned previously that I have a natural aversion to committing to a daily practice of anything, especially those things involving any kind of effort on my part.

It has made me think, though, about my writing style, and how I prefer to write when I feel moved to do so, rather than because I feel I ‘have’ to. I honestly believe that my best writing, my best anything, comes through inspiration, rather than just hard slog. Where this theory falls apart, especially when you are a person who wants to make writing their career, like moi – is that in life there will always be days when you don’t feel particularly inspired. These are the days when you can’t be bothered, or you’re too tired, or you just don’t feel like you have anything particularly interesting to say. The sort of days where bulldog videos suddenly acquire an inexplicable appeal.

Einstein is famously quoted as saying: “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration”. Since I committed to blogging every day in August, the ratio of perspiration to inspiration in my posts has been feeling rather high. However, I’ve persevered because a) I’m not a person who likes giving up and b) if I ever want to write an entire book like I say I want to then I am going to have to get used to writing regularly even through the times when I may not totally feel like it.

I often think I’d like to do things not because I have to, but because I want to. But I wonder if the reality of this would be as great as it sounds. In my fantasies I like to think this attitude would lead me to a wonderful, free, creative and artistic life. But I have a niggling fear that if I had unlimited freedom I would squander it on sleeping in, reading too many books, and eating lots of chocolate cake. I wouldn’t do things like exercise, work, write books, or overcome all kinds of obstacles to build my house because of course I wouldn’t feel like it.

So below, I’m including a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, who gave this talk soon after the     ‘freakish success’ of her book Eat Pray Love. She talks about the nature of creative genius and inspiration, and how the concept of who is ‘responsible’ for artistic inspiration has changed through history. At the end, she sums up by saying the job of the writer, or any artist, is mostly just to show up. So I’m showing up today to write my post, and I’ll be showing up for the sixteen days after. Because, quite simply, that’s my job.

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3 Responses to Inspiration And The Half-Way Point

  1. The inspiration vs showing up energy is quite familiar … And thinking of it takes me back to the words of one of my top five favorite poets, William Stafford. I’m in the Rocky Mountains away from his books right now, but I recall one of thoughts pulled from his book on writing, “The Australian Crawl”, in which he describes how he gets up each morning and before doing anything else he takes pencil to paper and, if not inspired in any way, he simply stays quiet and notices what comes up and then follows where that goes, much like picking up one end of a string and trusting that it will lead somewhere. Says that he wrote some of his most effective verse in that fashion.
    A thought….
    (…and pardon the typos, as my huge fingers negotiate these iPad virtual keys)

  2. Pingback: Showing Up While Waiting For The Rain | themolesworthdiaries

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