Do more, be better

The Inspiration Myth

by Jessica on 29 October 2013, filed under Working It Out

Somedays you get the lightening strike: as I once heard it put (very poetically) the “sparkle in the mind”. You’re a waterfall of ideas, you can solve the problem and find the just the right words. It is an empowering feeling, inspiration, when everything is clicking into place, seemingly effortlessly and when motivation doesn’t have to be searched for but instead is roaring out of you, driving you forward. Inspiration is what many a creative waits for, hopes will strike and is the subject of mythic re-telling: the moment we had “the big idea”.

Because we’ve all felt it we also know clearly when we aren’t feeling inspired. When we don’t want to sit down and work, when we feel like we’re bashing our head against a brick wall trying to solve a problem, when the idea of working on a project makes us feel lethargic and resistant. You’ll hear people lament “I’m just not feeling it today”, and often they are encouraged to give it a rest, there is no point if you’re not in the headspace.

But I’d like to argue against this and instead give some kudos to frequency. Aristotle said “We are what we frequently do, excellence is therefore not an act but a habit”.  Frequency means every day, in and out, regardless of how inspired or not you feel, sitting down to what ever is your craft of choice.Whether you’re writing a novel or writing code by doing it every day you will:

  • Establish a habit for work
  • Get more done (and prevent weeks or months slipping by feeling like you’re making no progress)
  • Keep your subconscious ticking on problems
  • Actually increase the number of times you have a moment of inspiration
  • See your work in the context of many different moods and situations, which makes it stronger, and more interesting
I’ve heard it said once that amateurs wait for inspiration, the rest of us are just here, getting it done. So while I won’t begrudge you a walk around the block, or a coffee break, in general stop waiting and start doing, every damn day. The more often you do it, the better it’ll be.

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