Inspiration and Habits
Last Update: Jun 27, 2022
Working when you aren't inspired
As I coach others, a common concern I hear is how to work when they just don't feel inspired.
And I understand that. I used to believe that we writers need to feel inspired to continue each day. After all, isn't that why Hemingway and so many other writers chose to live or vacation at Key West?
To a point, we do need some inspiration for certain types of writing. And for Hemingway, Key West was his place to find it. It worked for him. I've been to Key West and yes, I can see why so many writers found their inspiration there.
But in reality, most of us have to continue our writing and working where we are. With the exception of single adults and maybe some digital nomad couples, few of us can just pick up and travel to our inspiring location. Given the current price of fuel, probably even fewer will do so.
But then, how will we get any work done?
I think that Ocatavia Butler said it quite well.
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won't. Habit is persistence in practice.” ―Octavia Butler
I have found that so true. Sometimes, when I feel completely uninspired, I do need to take a short break. I'll take the dogs out for a run or possibly just listen to a few songs. I give myself time to reconvene.
But then it's time to kick myself back into work mode.
And I think that's easier for me than some.
I was raised on a farm and my parents had another home-based business, too. We lived in the snow belt. Winters were long and very cold and snowy. But when it was time to care for the animals, we braved even blizzard-like conditions to do so. Frozen water pipes or 4 foot of snow might slow our progress, but never stopped us.
The same is true of working from home on computer.
Well, minus the extreme weather. Working from home on websites takes a bit of push sometimes. We might not feel like writing. In fact, sitting in front of the computer might not be where we want to be at all.
But when we have a responsibility, we need to fulfill it. If it's time to write the next article, just do it. Need to update your social media? Now is the time. Have comments to respond to? Schedule them and do it.
When we make good habits, they push away the bad.
And making a habit of writing when you need to, rather than just when you want to, helps alleviate the need to find inspiration.
Of course, you might need to go back over your article again. But you are getting your work accomplished.
One way I explain this to people is to imagine they have a pet or a child who needs to be fed or cared for. Do they wait until they feel inspired to do so? Of course not! Or at least, I hope not.
In fact, many times each day we do things without feeling the inspiration. You make meals and eat them. Answer the phone. Dress in the morning. Sleep at night.
We all have habits that we do without inspiration.
Consider your writing and other site responsibilities to be the same. It's something to do. Sure, we usually enjoy doing it. If not, another career might be a better fit. But you don't have to always feel the inspiration to do what needs to be done.
But of course, if you need a break, take it. Just jump back in after your break and get back to the work at hand.
Let your goals and dreams be the inspiration to drive your habits!
You've said this so eloquently, Diane. I really enjoyed reading your post. It is so true that we must create these habits as a part of daily life. It can take time to learn this, but it is certainly worthwhile. Thanks for the excellent share. I hope you have a great day, my friend.
Thanks for this post, Diane. It is so true! Sitting in front of a computer and learning is not at all the difficult part. I worked in IT for about 30 years (unfortunately, not on web development), and after I retired I continued to take classes in IT stuff. It's the writing part that is difficult for me. But I do get inspired by you and the others here at WA to keep on writing because that is the way to get there.
Thanks again for your inspiration about not being inspired!
Just keep working at it, Barbara. Writing comes easier for me than for some others. But I have to work at other aspects such as the tech things, so I can appreciate the challenges.
If you keep working at it, the day will come when you find your "AHA!" moment. When you do, please let us all know. We love to hear successes!
Thanks, Diane for this post. I do not think I have done anything by "inspiration", Habits can be formed but I don't believe that inspiration can. Even one saying that such a place gets him/her inspired to do something [Writing] It is because he/she has made it a habit to write from there and thus fine-tuned the mind to plan it that way.
Nevertheless, perhaps some really get inspiration. Thank you for this brain-changing topic.
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I so agree. When your daily work becomes a habit, you get it done.
To help me establish this habit, I finally set up a spread sheet that lists the things I must do each day, whether it's research a new post, write, take pictures, type, and all the other tasks that must be done. I have found it to be a helpful way to stay on track.
Yes, I use a loose form of a spread sheet. With family and other obligations, I need the list form to keep me focused.