The Unimportance Of Inspiration
In early August of 2012, my laptop wouldn’t turn on.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t turn off either.
With fifty minutes left to write, my ancient machine suffered a crisis of identity. Should I be a laptop? Should I be a large black rectangle rock-thing? Should I forsake my author and break all bonds of fellowship?!
In the meantime, it whirred and cracked, its screen glowing light blue, and ignored my desperate punches at the power button.
Rather like me, then, and perhaps always.
On July 11th, 2012, I flew halfway across the country. I went from my new home to my old home. I went from my family to my friends. Oh, and a job.
Perhaps that’s some explanation for the loss of a coherent schedule. My school fell, my blog fell, and my writing fell. Once they fell, it was hard to get them back running again.
The longer I didn’t edit, the harder it was to see where my novel needed to go. The longer I didn’t blog, the harder it was to think of anything to blog about. The longer I had a messed-up sleeping schedule, the longer I went without accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish every day.
This put me into a cycle I’m all too familiar with. I didn’t accomplish things, so I got depressed, so I didn’t accomplish things, so I got depressed, so I didn’t accomplish things…
I had stuff to do. Big stuff; important stuff. Changing the world. Living for Christ. Loving. Writing. But I got so bogged down by failures that I just failed more. It was (and is) very illogical. Which, due to my slightly Spock-like personality, irks me.
What does any of this have to do with inspiration?
Well, I like the jolts of brilliance as much as the next writer. The beautiful sentences that just pop into your head and roll out across the paper…the wonderful scenes…the fascinating character…the sense of I can do anything!!!
But writers cannot live on inspiration alone. And actually, if they try to, the inspiration will eventually run out.
Most of us know the saying: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
But what people normally don’t tell you is that that work—that perspiration—actually creates the inspiration in most, if not all, circumstances.
Remember those cycles above? I don’t blog, so I don’t know what to blog. I don’t edit, so I don’t know how to edit. I don’t get up early, so I don’t go to bed in time. The cycles of defeat.
But if you work on your novel, or your blog, and you push through when it isn’t fun, you are going to get a bit of help from inspiration. The inspiration isn’t the important part: the work that leads to it is. You can get into the good cycle of working on your novel, so you get inspiration for your novel, so you work on your novel…
Of course, it’s not exactly that simple. Sometimes you’ll still get burned out and run out of ideas and need breaks and new books and rants to friends. Besides that, it’s harder to stay in the good cycle than it is to fall into the bad cycle.
Today, I find myself in a similar position to August 2012, with different excuses: six weeks of back-to-back illnesses, stress over possibly transferring from the school I love, and constantly hammering questions about the future.
But in the end, my excuses don’t matter. They didn’t matter then, and they don’t matter now. If I want to write, as I say I do, I can’t depend on punches at the power button—on bolts of inspiration. I especially can’t count on that inspiration to get me through seasons of turmoil.
I have to remember. Inspiration is always, always worth the perspiration. And even if that perspiration is more painful than it has been before, it still has to be worth doing what I love.
With that, and with my spankin’ new laptop (old Rip Van Winkle died that day), I have novels to write and a blog to revive.
Rachel Garner is a no-longer-teen writer of three novels, and a homeschool graduate pursuing the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics degree at The King’s College. Hoping to go into substantive novel editing, she currently spends time gushing about Lord of the Rings and Hamlet, obsessing over 12th century England, and wondering if seven years is really too long to work on her Robin Hood retelling.
She knows The Storymonger through the magical realm of One Year Adventure Novel and the importance of a certain group of Elvish Platypi. Make of that what you will.
She blogs at Nairam of Sherwood nairamofsherwood.blogspot.com