Addicted to inspiration, to his own eternal metaphysical muse, a writer feels that without it he’s nothing but an empty shell. He lives from one rush of inspiration to another hoping it always comes back to him, in any shape or form, ethereal like a friendly ghost helping him complete his magnum opus. But our writer, same as most creatives, bounces between the two polarities, where on one side he has a progressive, selfless need to create and on the other side the fear of failure and self-doubt crept in. Apart from a burst of beautiful, meaningful, divine guidance, our writer also needs motivation to see his deed until the end.
Death or Glory and Nothing in Between
All writers struggle with motivation at one point or another. Perhaps it’s the lack of discipline or the lack of freedom. Or perhaps it’s the lack of audience and the need to be appreciated. Or perhaps there is enough audience for a big round of applause but the one who we expect to applaud the most is hiding under a rock. There are so many factors at play that can kill our motivation even if we are born with a do-or-die attitude or know how to tap into our creative energy on demand.
Many writers confuse moments when they are inspired with moments when they are motivated. But inspiration and motivation are not one and the same. Inspiration nests within you like a butterfly while motivation taps you on the shoulder like a good friend, a father you never had, or a teacher who cares. Inspiration sparks creativity, motivation executes it.
Motivation Pushes You Off the Edge, Inspiration Helps You Ascend
Motivation is like an invisible hand that pushes you off a cliff into the most beautiful scenic void, without knowing if there’s anything at the bottom. Surreal like in a dream. Landing on your feet, shaking from excitement and understanding that in every moment of your life you are both alive and dead at the same time, you learn about the non-existence of linear time and finally understand why atoms can neither be created nor destroyed. You are completely open and ageless. You can do anything. You can invite anything in.
And once your inner daredevil fully awakens, inspiration starts crawling in and electrifying all the nerve endings in your body. It saddens and torments you, it tickles and makes you laugh, and then, once it’s done reshaping you, it becomes bliss. It gives you wings and allows you to ascend from the bottom of the void up into the sky. Your inner daredevil now understands that he’s not only able to jump, but also to fly.
You Cannot Create a Spark in a Loop, You Can Only Develop Vertigo
We live in a dualistic universe. Without opposition, there is no accord. Without an apparent separateness, there is no creation. Without conflict, there’s no resolution. If we don’t bounce between our inner polarities we get stuck in a loop. It’s a loop of our ancestral habits, of adopted behavioral patterns, of what’s expected.
A creative spark can only be created out of the collision of opposites and not within a loop. And being stuck in a loop is our writer’s most dreaded nightmare. Not being able to create something fresh, rehashing what he already wrote, falling into the cliché traps, being seduced by dreams, overthinking, staying in his comfort zone. In creative writing, a loop leads us to an early death, not immortality.
But what can our writer do to break out of his loop? What can you do to break out of yours? Here are some ideas that are pretty harmless but effective.
1. Write Something with Purpose
Write a letter, a love letter, a self-expression letter, a thank-you letter, a letter to a far away friend. You know, the old-school ink meets paper letter. Yes, that’s the one. First thing on your mind is probably that your handwriting sucks, or perhaps you suffer from OCD and just thinking about all those unequal letters that smudge on a paper torments you. Well, perhaps the time has come to stop being a slave to your mental disorders and stop overthinking everything. Life is not about how something looks, but how it feels. It’s not about doing the appropriate and expected, but about doing it from your heart and in one breath. This is how you can truly heal yourself.
2. Learn Something New
Choose the topic you know nothing about and learn more about it. Say bees. The bee’s brain is only about the size of a sesame seed, yet it is exceptional in a way it can learn and remember things and perform complex calculations. There’s so much more to bees than honey and their buzzing sound. Delve deeper and you’ll learn that the bee sting venom can actually treat arthritis. What about stars? Around 275 million stars die each day, but do you care? Did you know that stars are sentient beings just like humans? A star is born, it lives, it gets to be an old star and then it dies. It’s just a lot bigger than a human. For a star, we are nothing but what bacteria are for us.
3. Start a Fire
This is not a call for anarchy, it’s a call for doing the unexpected. Perhaps there’s something in your possession that should go down in flames, an old photo, a drawing, a painful memory. And then there’s the usual hoarder garbage your brain tells you to collect when you have chronic problems with decision making or when you lack love. Well, a fire is a wonderful element, and not only when you need to light a cigarette. Before electricity, fire was keeping us warm and safe. It allowed us to read books at night and shape raw materials into usable objects. It also made humans discover the joys of cooked food. And of course eating the food by candlelight. Fire is always there, you just need to summon it.
4. Break a Pattern
You probably have some usual routes you take when you go to specific places, on your way home, when you walk or drive. It’s simple automatism, a routine. When you follow a familiar route subconsciously you feel safe, but safety doesn’t really exercise the brain. It’s alertness that does this. It keeps your mind sharp, it invokes curiosity, it gives you focus. A routine deteriorates the brain in such a way that it can even kill you, literally. Say you are driving a car the same route every day. You let your body do the work and your mind is somewhere else, half asleep. What if something unexpected happens, like a child jumping in front of your car while chasing a runaway ball or another car in full speed just makes a wrong turn? By breaking your everyday pattern you’ll become more alert. You’ll increase your concentration, boost motivation, and enhance overall creativity and productivity.
5. Close Your Eyes
Not just when you want to relax, meditate or sleep, but try to keep your eyes closed while doing your everyday chores. Being in the dark while showering, eating, cleaning or exercising opens up a whole new dimension. Doing something with your eyes closed forces your brain to create new neural pathways. This way you are training your brain to let go of old habits and build new pathways. By provoking your inner transformation you’ll unlock your potential and connect to your creative source. Being deprived of one of the most important senses will also remind you that you have intuition, in case you forgot.