The Failure of Inspiration

inspirationsmallSo you’re taking a walk, or doing the washing, or lying in bed – well, you’re doing something relatively ordinary.

Then it hits.


You have a brilliant idea for a story – an idea that excites you. The way you’d write the story fleshes out in your imagination – not all of it, but enough that you’re confident you can get started. So you sit at the keyboard, and you pound out a few thousand words. But now, your enthusiasm wanes. You try to keep at it, but within days you have nothing left. The idea can’t have been that good, after all. So you give it up, and wait for a new inspiration, the one that’ll burn all the way through writing.

Does this sound like you?

Are you even proud that you’re a thrall to inspiration, and disregard any writing done whilst not inspired as unworthy? Or ordinary? Or forced?

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, ‘Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration’.

That applies to writing also.

It’s doubtful that inspiration is going to fuel you through writing a short story, let alone a novel. There are going to be flat spots. There are going to be times you want to give it up. There are times you’re going to grow bored. Just think of any emotional, intellectual, or spiritual state which epitomises apathy – if not loathing – and, you know what? At some point, you’re going to feel it.

If you’re banking on always feeling excited by your project, you’re likely to be disappointed, and will probably only end up with a hoard of uncompleted projects, wondering why you can’t just feel passionate about something all the time, and questioning whether this is for you.

The people who finish stuff are the people who stick to it, no matter what. And the reality is as they learn to write through whatever they’re feeling – good, bad, and indifferent – they develop the endurance to always get to where they want to go. That simple. It’s a muscle. Exercise it. Build it. And it’ll start to carry you further. But it’ll remain soft and flabby if all you ever do is give up, and justify that by saying you just couldn’t remain inspired about [INSERT NAME OF LATEST PROJECT].

Inspiration’s great.

We all need it.

But perseverance will see you finish.

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