Inspiration Is Overrated · 26 October 2019

Inspiration is fickle and unpredictable and overrated.

I remember many years ago when I thought that I needed to be inspired to write. Whether I was writing poetry or prose, fiction or non-fiction, I felt that I needed to be inspired. Now I realize that feeling the need for inspiration is just be an excuse for not writing.

I have come to these conclusions about inspiration after many years of writing just to write. Oh sure, I have a body of work that I am proud of. Mostly. But if I was going to be proud of anything, I would be proud of myself for just being in the habit of writing. Every day. Whether I was inspired or not. Which is what being a writer is all about.

I know that I am no best-selling author. I know that I just have a few friends and fans out there who read my writing. But if I was going to tell any would-be writers anything, I would tell them what every author has ever told any aspiring authors to do. And that is to just write. Every day. Period.

Again. I am no expert, but I do know that the habit of writing is what makes a person a writer. Not the number of fans a person has or the number of books a person has sold. Not even the number of books a person has published. What makes a writer a writer is just the act of writing. That is it. Writers write. So if you want to be a writer, just write.

I know that what I am saying seems pretty obvious. If you want to get good at anything, you just need to do that anything. A lot. Just keep doing and doing and doing and hopefully you will get better and better and better. In my case, I keep working and working and working to get to mediocre. But I am sure I will get there. After all, mediocrity might seem a low bar for some, but as one of my friends likes to point out, striving for mediocrity has been and probably always will be a stretch for me.

But back to my original thought. Inspiration.

Inspiration is certainly fickle. It comes and goes without any rhyme or reason. It is here today, gone tomorrow. It is certainly unpredictable. Nobody knows when it will show up. Mostly. In my case, inspiration almost always comes with grief and sadness. I even wrote a poem about that once. So knowing that about my inspiration, I know that if I only wrote when I was inspired, I would probably only write when I was sad or at other times when that unpredictable lightning bolt of inspiration struck. And I would have just a few pages of writing to show for it.

The worst part about inspiration though is that it is overrated. People seem to think that writers and poets and song writers and artists in general must be gifted with inspiration. They must have a corner on the market so to speak. But that is not the case. Successful artists, regardless of their medium (or even media) are just those who keep on doing what they are doing. They just keep swimming. They just keep drawing. They just keep painting. They just keep composing. They just keep singing. They just keep writing. And sometimes, what they do seems inspired. And maybe it is. But usually, it just seems that way. In reality, those people are disciplined. They just keep on keeping on.

Which just goes to show that it is difficult to inspire people. After all, there are only so many ways can you say, “Just get better at what you are doing by doing what you are doing over and over and over again.” Which is not very inspirational at all. But it does tell the truth about getting better at everything.

So if you want to get good at writing (or anything for that matter), work hard and make adjustments as you go. Do not rely on inspiration, just keep writing. And some days you will write something that is truly inspired. Remember, inspiration is fickle and unpredictable. But mostly, inspiration is overrated.

© 2019 Michael T. Miyoshi

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  1. So true! I’m not sure I even know what being inspired has to do with writing. It’s all about work ethic. And also, for myself anyway, understanding the differences between the left and right brains and what each has to offer to the writing process. I guess the closest I can get to getting on the inspiration bandwagon is having an understanding of what the right brain brings to the process and how to shift into right brain mode. But that’s another blog post!

    Lissa Johnston · 28 October 2019, 11:50 ·

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