Develop your writing inspiration
I wanted to write this article because I know how important inspiration is and found something missing in the material I read previously on the subject. I finished writing my own article, then went for a walk around my neighborhood, a village-like setting with modest houses scattered over sloping grassy areas amid walking and a variety of trails. very mature trees that dominate the landscape.
Trees give off an energy that fills me with peace and erases everyday anecdotes. Being in nature has always opened something up in me and I found myself inundated with positive feelings, sensations and new perspectives.
The article I had just finished came from a place of discipline, determination and thoughtfulness, and is probably good enough. How many times have you written from this place? To go from good enough to inspiring, you need to expand the boundaries you set for yourself. If you don’t write based on true inspiration, your readers will likely understand it and they won’t be inspired.
How many books have you read that you thought were well written and solidly informative, but which were quickly forgotten? When we remember books, it is usually because we have captured the inspiration of the writer, which has touched our hearts and souls or challenged our curiosity and intellect.
A clear understanding of the elements of inspiration will not only help you recognize it, it will also help you create pathways to let it in.
In his essay “Why Inspiration Matters”, published in the Harvard Business Review in 2011, Scott Barry Kaufman explores the impact of inspiration on levels of productivity and satisfaction. He writes that inspired people report “higher levels of important psychological resources, including belief in their own abilities, self-esteem and optimism. Work mastery, absorption, creativity, perceived competence, self-esteem and optimism were all consequences of inspiration, suggesting that inspiration facilitates these important psychological resources.
It is important to notice where your motivation is coming from. If you write primarily to seek praise, financial gain, or fame, these motivations, while understandable, can interfere with the authenticity of your work.
When I started writing, someone asked me what my goal was. My answer: I just want to share what I learned.
So how do you create space and let in inspiration? Consider some big questions. I strongly suggest that you write down your answers. Start with:
• What are you passionate about writing?
• When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
• What sparked your interest?
• Who are you really writing your book for?
• What are your hopes and dreams about what will happen after your book is finished?
• What goals or dreams could possibly interfere with your inspiration?
The substantial energy required to write, edit, and market your book will be sustained when your inspiration is based on a burning curiosity or genuine love for your subject matter and a desire for honesty, quality, and clarity.
The following activities will help you develop your inspiration. These activities are not intended to develop and improve your specific writing skills. They are designed to help you develop and maintain the inspiration that will make it all work.
Increase your self-awareness. It is the most important and meaningful thing you can do to awaken your inspiration. Even if you think you know yourself well, there is always more to learn. Self-awareness is essential for developing and maintaining inspiration and will provide additional information about your writing as well.
Keep a diary. Write something there every day. Usually the end of the day is the best time. If something happens that puts you off balance, take a few minutes to write down the event, how you are feeling, and what you do with your feelings. Or just start writing, stream of consciousness – write down whatever pops into your head, even if it’s about not wanting to write, or thinking it’s a worthless exercise.
Pay attention to your thoughts. Notice what thoughts you have and how you react to them. For example, do worry, fear and judgment of others or of yourself dominate your thoughts? These are automatic negative thoughts. “Don’t believe everything you think,” as author Allan Lokos put it. How do your thoughts affect your inspiration to write and the quality of your writing?
Pay attention to your feelings regularly. See if you can identify them, even if you don’t think they are important. What do you do with a feeling? Eliminate it or bury it, rationalize it, blame it on someone or something else, does it get mad that it exists, or just let it out? The healthiest way is to recognize the feeling and then ask yourself what you want or need to do with the feeling. (This is the first step in emotional intelligence.)
Look for experiences that will inspire you. It could mean listening to music, being in nature, or embracing loneliness in some other way.
Be comfortable with vulnerability. Vulnerability is inevitable in writing: you expose yourself and you let yourself be judged. It’s a great asset in your writing. In her 2010 TED talk “The Power of Vulnerability,” author Brené Brown calls vulnerability “the cradle of joy, creativity, belonging, love”.
Invite regular, honest feedback from people you trust. It’s much easier to do when you allow your vulnerability to surface. Listen to comments, but avoid dismissing them or accepting them too quickly. Give yourself time to think about and evaluate the comments, both negative and positive.
Best wishes for continued inspiration!
Shelli Chosak is a psychotherapist and author of Your Living Legacy: How Your Parenting Style Shapes the Future for You and Your Child, who was a finalist in the BookLife Prize 2019 non-fiction competition.
A version of this article appeared in the 6/14/2021 issue of Editors Weekly under the title: develop your writing inspiration