Last week I wrote about how inspiration and motivation can be cyclical. But as a blogger with a posting schedule as well as several side hustles to write for, sitting around waiting for inspiration to come is not always an option.
Writing and side hustles can be difficult when you have a full time job. I only have nights, weekends, and holidays to write, and obviously I have other obligations during those times to work around. So I want to make the most out of those times. My immediate instinct is to only use my writing time to write things that will eventually become blog posts, but without inspiration, that’s pretty impossible.
When I’m in the low part of the inspiration cycle and can’t seem to come up with anything to write about, those around me always encourage me to write about random topics. Even if what I write is something only I will see, I should just start writing and see what happens. Don’t they understand that I have other things I need to be doing? That I need to prioritize blog posts that go live every week? I can’t just sit here and write about nothing!
But of course, as much as I want to yell at them, I know that they’re right. Sometimes the creative process is at its peak and blessing you with all of the ideas and words that you can possibly ask for. Other times it is chuckling darkly as it withholds all of your creative energy and you’re stuck on the couch napping for days on end. You can’t always rely on inspiration and motivation to get you up and working.
The secret is: you can still work uninspired, you just need to create the inspiration for yourself.
This goes for anyone in a creative slump: any artist using any sort of medium. The secret to generating new ideas is to create blindly. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other ways to seek out inspiration, but this one is the most independent. It doesn’t depend on you talking to anyone else or going anywhere else. Just do what you’re doing, and basically fake the inspiration until you make the inspiration.
It is also the tactic that I find most challenging. I am a perfectionist at heart and a depressed TV-binge-watcher by trade (okay, so not really, but wouldn’t that be cool?!). Wasting my time creating writing pieces that are imperfect and not going anywhere sounds like my own personal form of hell. But it’s so so important.
Also, as a creative person, I seek validation for all of the creative pieces that I make. How am I supposed to know that I’m doing anything decent without constant praise?! How, I ask you?
If I stick to only writing pieces that become blog posts, I will never advance my writing and learn to write new things. I will only ever write first-person narrative with the same snark and sarcasm that you’ve all grown to love. Or at least tolerate.
This is an excellent exercise for me to accept and appreciate that not everything I write will be good enough for everyone else to read. It’s okay to write something completely awful and silly. Who knows, maybe it will give me some ideas for more blog posts!
I have always been a perfectionist, and therefore want everything that I write to be perfect. I want all of it to be relatable and fun and full of (sometimes far too revealing) self-awareness. But it is literally impossible for me to create the best post I’ve ever created with each post that I do. Some will be better than others, but I can’t beat myself up over those others forever. Writing about silly bits of nothing would help me to see that the world will not end if I don’t create the perfect blog post.
Hell, if you’re like me and like to compartmentalize, get a separate notebook/sketchpad/whatever for your random ideas that only you will see. If you’d prefer to keep all of your silly ideas separate, create a different space for them that you can return to whenever you want to create but have no idea where to start!
Writing is one of my passions in life, but that doesn’t mean that I always feel like writing. Those days when I don’t feel inspired but still need to get some writing done, I’m just going to sit down at my laptop and start tying up any story that comes to my head. It might be personal, it might be fiction, it might be poetry, or all three! If I keep restricting the content that I write and when I can do it, I’m only going to make myself stressed. Well, more stressed than my constant anxious state.
So pick up a pen, or a brush, or a spatula, or whatever else you use to create, and just make anything! Create, dammit! Create whatever you see! Draw from what you ate for breakfast or your favorite outfit! Don’t worry about perfect or about anyone else who will see it. This is your space. Go crazy!
Photography by my talented fiancé. You can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/hope_grows_here/