I’m both fascinated and flummoxed by inspiration. At times it comes rushing in like a river, and other times feels bone dry. Writers and artists have all sorts of different means of tapping into their creativity. Some are structured and regimented, others whimsical and even superstitious. I find myself somewhere in between.
I’m definitely not the structured type. And yet some self-imposed structure is helpful. That is one of the gifts of Lent for me. Accountability. It forces me to push through my resistance. And bite sized blogs once a day aren’t too intimidating. Of course, it is only day 6.
But I’m also working on a book. And I’ve never done this before. I’ve written a dissertation, but that is somehow different. The goal is different. The outcome of academic writing has a certain finality to it. Did you effectively make and support your premise? If you did, and can adequately defend it, you pass.
There aren’t extra points in academic writing for vulnerability and authenticity. But good writing can’t really do without these. Good writing requires truth. Like Hemingway famously said, “write the truest thing you know.” And that truth is often messy and broken. It refuses to behave.
Inspiration is a fickle friend. But I’m finding my own ways of tapping into it. And for me, it has been discovering the importance of sacred space. Places I can retreat to, that provide quiet and stillness for my soul. But also beauty. To write amongst the trees. In these spaces, I find the courage to be transparent, to allow the ideas to flow unfiltered. To silence the inner critic and to let my heart be seen.
I’m just getting back from one of these places. A cabin in the local mountains. It is old and rustic and wonderful. And it snowed, too! I have some new thoughts and directions. I’m seeing with what feels like increased clarity. Maybe I’ll change my mind tomorrow about this direction I stumbled on, but today it feels like I’m on the right track.
After a few days of writing, I’m always a bit exhausted. I feel exposed. Writing is like giving blood. You need to drink some OJ and lay low for 24 hours afterwards. To allow yourself to recover.
But this process is so important. For all of us. Whatever our medium. We are creative beings. It is one of the traits we inherited from God. And creativity brings a crucial part of each of us alive.
We forget this. I remember a time when Gabe was young we were doing a father/son project with a bunch of other dad’s and their sons involving crayons and butcher paper. After a bit, the boys had all moved on, and all of us dads found ourselves still coloring away. It was so good for the soul. Someone commented on it, we chuckled a little, and kept on going.
We need to rediscover this creative voice in ourselves. To trust it. To be brave enough to get it out, on paper, in color, in print. I’m speaking to myself here.
So when inspiration hits, pay attention. What is the texture of the moment? What disarms your resistance? What puts the inner critic in check? Remember it. Replicate it. Rinse and repeat it. And allow that flickering flame of creativity and inspiration begin to catch fire. You need it, and so do we.