I Only Create When I Feel Inspired to… Is That a Problem?

Staring at a blank page for hours, trying to think of what to do with it, is discouraging. But if we don’t have inspiration, should we even try? And how can you create without being inspired? 

Photo by Pedro Araújo on Unsplash

Often we participate in creative hobbies like writing, drawing or painting when we have an idea because that’s when it’s fun. But one of the biggest tips from professionals is to make it a discipline, do it every day as something you need to do rather than simply feel inspired to do. Hearing this can be discouraging for people who don’t have the time, energy, motivation, or inspiration to do so. 

Is this a problem? 

Not necessarily. 

I think of it like buying a coat. I’m more inclined to spend more on a coat that I’ll wear often than on one I’ll only wear a few times. I invest more in something I’ll get more out of. 

It’s the same with these creative interests. Are you planning to earn money from this? No? Then don’t stress. Thanks for reading this article, enjoy the rest of your day ☺

Yes? You want to make money from this hobby or interest? You want it to be your career, even? Then you’re going to have to make it into a discipline. 

To go into it a bit deeper… 

I Don’t Want to Make Money From It 

The next question to ask yourself is ‘What am I doing with my time, energy and motivation instead?’ 

For a long time, I was in this category with my songs. I wasn’t going to earn anything from it, and hadn’t really thought about it career-wise, so I wrote when I had an idea. 

What was I doing with my time instead? 

I was studying. I didn’t have to take care of a home or family, earn a living, or write songs. I had to study. 

Sometimes my first priority is to get through assignment season. If I have an idea for a song and a spare fifteen minutes, I’ll write it down. Otherwise, I won’t stress, because I need to finish my university assignments. 

Maybe your first priority is organising a birthday party, taking care of a newborn, finding a job, or managing a farm. Whatever it is, that’s your first priority. Create if you have time, otherwise don’t stress. Treat your creativity as an outlet that you turn on when you need or want to, and otherwise leave alone. 

Ultimately, your hobby isn’t as important as those things. It’s okay if you don’t write every day, because you don’t need to. 

I hope, if nothing else, this relieves some pressure for you 😀

I Want to Make Money From It

In the above paragraph, I mentioned that sometimes I just need to get through assignment season, and if I don’t write a song then it’s not a big deal because instead I’m working on assignments or studying. 

But one day, that song will be what puts food on the table. I don’t want to be going hungry while I wait for inspiration or motivation. 

When I realised this for myself, I decided to commit to writing one song a week. That way I could still prioritise my studies, but I would also have practice at writing even when I didn’t have an idea ready. I figured that if I could write once every week, if one day I needed to write two songs a day, I could just speed up the process. (I’ll get back to you if that works if I ever have to do that heh.) 

Well, now the question is, how do I write when I have no inspiration? 

Um… you go and find some. 

Here are some ideas of where to find prompts: 

  • Google writing prompts – Even if you’re looking for inspiration for music or art, writing prompts can be helpful to get ideas flowing. (Also consider places like Pinterest.)
  • Use a dictionary – open to a random word and use it as the prompt. 
  • Make it a point to write down the random ideas you have throughout the day – if you have a flash of inspiration, text it to yourself, or write it down in a designated notebook. Do not lose it! 
  • Pick up the closest book, open to page 104 and create something based on the first sentence on the page – *tries it* (Did you know that page 104 of The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly has NO WORDS ON IT??? No, I didn’t plan this 😐) 
  • Place limitations on yourself – write a paragraph without using the letter s. Write a song in a made-up language. Draw a picture using only straight lines. Limitations change the problem from something abstract into a puzzle to be solved.  
  • Use a photo album – find a picture and create something based on it. 
  • Create something inspired by something you love – a book you read recently, a show you watched, a song you listened to, etc.
  • Freewrite – write a paragraph without setting limitations, editing your work or making it perfect. You might be surprised by what you’ll find for inspiration that you can then use as a launchpad! A helpful tool for this is the Most Dangerous Writing App, which will force you to write constantly without stopping to edit, or Fridge Poetry, where you can put poems together with random words. 

Don’t get distracted or search endlessly for the perfect prompt; you’ll just waste time. Practice forcing something from very little inspiration, and don’t worry if you create something you don’t like; you can try again next time!  

Alrighty Creators, where do you find inspiration for your work?

Published by Debbie Coll

I'm a storyteller, songwriter and author who loves God, fairy tales and music. I write about tales, creative tips and process on my blog, debbiecoll.com.

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