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I’ve noticed I have a bad habit I fall into when I start feeling the first tingles of inspiration.
As soon as my motivation peaks, and I’m drawn into the act of creation once again, I have the tendency to aim that piping hot insight in a direction it wasn’t meant to go.
I write a lot about self-development and the struggles we run into when trying to harness the power of our creative minds. I like to find certain aspects of our psychology — things like our grasp at authenticity, the looming nature of imposter syndrome, and the emotional roller coaster of ups and downs we experience when trying to self-actualize — and relate them in my own unique, creative, and often humorous ways. Over the past few years, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better at this. I can see a noticeable progression in my work since I started publishing on this site a little over two years ago. My thoughts are more cohesive, my metaphors are better articulated, and even my wordplay is, at least to my childish nature, respectably wittier.
I was writing about these same subjects so often because as much as I was trying to write something that others may find useful by reading it, I was getting just as much out of it by writing it. Writing became my therapy on the path to self-development and still very much is.
There’s nothing quite like starting with absolutely nothing to say and two hours later feeling as if you discovered something entirely unique about the human psyche, regardless if that particular insight was already articulated in vastly more complex ways by other people. To you, it’s new, and as most people know, anything you discover on your own will have much more of an impact on you than if it was simply told to you by someone else.
But back to my bad habit.
There are times when I’m reading, or listening to an audiobook, or simply walking in silence when the inspiration for action strikes. Most of the time, that action is writing. But the hiccups I often find myself plagued with come from the way in which I begin working on something.
As many writer’s know, you’re either a planner, a pantser, or some odd mix of both.
For me, the way in which I’ve been best able to vomit out a few hundred thousand words over the past few years has been to simply sit my ass down and start tapping no matter how terrible it may sound. I fly by the seat of my pants like I had wings made of denim. It’s not that it’s hard for me to make plans, but my best work seems to come out when I allow myself to think freely and let the shape of an idea change as it’s birthed onto the page.
I know plenty of people can relate. It’s a great way to stay creative and keep things fresh. It’s as if the anxiety of not knowing what you’re going to say next is what gives you the energy to keep going.
My problem is that I’ve begun to rely so heavily on using untapped creative energy for any purpose I desire that a lot of times I’m stuck in a stalemate of where to direct that energy.
Let me explain.
You’ll be listening to a podcast or an audiobook. Whoever it is may start talking about finding the things in life that drive you, or give you purpose, and how to utilize these things to find direction and meaning. It starts to make you think about the things in your own life that get you fired up and you start feeling that inner heat that lights up your mind. You tell yourself that once you get home you’re going to get to work. There’re so many things you know you need to work on to change your life for the better, and you’re going to tackle it all. And yet, when you get home and sit in front of your computer, you don’t know what exactly to do with all of that energy.
Should you write out your life goals? Work on your novel? Write a business plan? Send out some emails? Edit an article? Write abstract poetry? Research a better career path? Develop characters for that story idea you thought about two weeks ago? Ramble into the void? All of the above?
It gets dizzying trying to walk so many different paths at once. It’s impossible.
The thing to remember to do when you’re holding so much inspired energy and are having a hard time directing it, is to look to the source of that inspiration.
What was it that caused you to feel that way? What words were spoken or read that turned up your inner fire and allowed you to feel so alive with drive? Whatever it happened to be, that’s what you need to lean into. Pull your energy back into its source.
It you couldn’t guess, I was talking about myself up there. I was, in fact, listening to an audiobook which spoke of focus and purpose. I was the one with the burst of energy to write and the lack of direction of what to do with that feeling. Normally, I would ramble along until something either solidified or fizzled out. No plans means no expectations, and no expectations means nothing to hold you accountable for coming up short.
This time felt different. I decided to stop sitting here with that raw energy until it moved on its own. I made the choice to think about what caused me to feel that way in the first place and lean into it. I didn’t have to make the harder decision as to how I would use that inspirational energy, I could simply reflect what it was that created it back into the world in my own way.
That’s what this is: my own reflection of purpose, of drive, of how motivation manifests itself for me. I know what my skills are and its due time I lean into them in the same way I do with what inspires me.
Maybe it’s the same for you, maybe not. But I know there are people who can relate to the feeling of holding that kind of creative energy and letting it slip through their fingers. It can be so easy to displace your own better instincts when you’re preoccupied with what you think you “should” be doing.
There’s a reason you were inspired by whatever it happened to be in that moment. Find out exactly what it was that sparked that feeling within you and act upon it. Don’t misuse your creative gifts for business better saved for later.
Harness your inspiration by reflecting its source into the world. Mirror the magic that cast its spell on you. Don’t use that energizing feeling to simply send some emails, or organize your room, or work on an idea that has nothing to do with what sparked your fire. Write about that fire. Articulate exactly what it is about that particular flame that fascinates you.
That’s when you’ll feel more connected to it. That’s when a reader will be able to feel your emotions through your words.
The worst thing to do when you feel inspired is to not direct it correctly. If you already had plans and you just needed a push, maybe you won’t have too much trouble on this front. But for anyone else who has the habit of spreading their energy too thin when the moment strikes, look inward, find the source, and stare into that fire.
It will all seem so obvious once you do.