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Perspiration, Inspiration, or Both?

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, Amazon will give me a small commission at absolutely no cost to you. I only recommend books that I have personally read, often alongside my children: if I haven't read and enjoyed it, I won't recommend it! These links help keep my website running: thank you for your support!

Wad of paper with the word ideas written on it
Discarded ideas

Almost every author I have ever encountered has a dream of "making it big." For some, that means being able to transition to writing as a full-time career. For others, success is measured in the number of readers and followers they have attained. Still others, and I would venture to posit that most authors fall into this category, view success as a combination of fame and monetary profit. Yet in order to reach that pinnacle, which few authors ever attain, a writer must pen a compelling story. In order to write a compelling story, an author must have at least one brief moment of inspiration. How do authors find inspiration and conjure original ideas? Many of us don't know. I recently read an encouraging post by Doreen Cronin, author of the Click, Clack, Moo series and one of my all-time favorite children's book authors. In her article, Doreen states that "Inspiration is a slippery thing, impossible to catch when you’re trying and ironically, easiest to catch when you’re really, really busy doing something else." I have certainly found this to be true in my own life: most of my poems and story ideas have originated in the mundane, beautiful moments of everyday life. The sweetness and innocence of my children, the pain of loss, and the fear of the future have been inspiration for numerous poems. Most of these poems will never see the light of day, as they are often written quickly and with minimal consideration of rhythmic meter. Yet while these rhymes are often rough around the edges (and sometimes throughout the middle, too), they "qualify" as poems all the same. Even my first Sir Parker story came to mind without conscious effort: I contrived the first few lines of the book while on a walk with my oldest son (you can read more about that journey here).

Two of my favorite stories by Doreen Cronin

Doreen goes on to say that "...inspiration shows up in the work... Which came first – the inspiration or the work? Very rarely, for me at least, it’s the inspiration." This is where the difficulty begins. It is much easier, for me at least, to sit around and wait for inspiration to "strike" me out of nowhere, like a lightning bolt on a bright, sunny day. In reality, you are much more likely to encounter lightning while walking in a field during a tumultuous storm, and more likely still if you also happen to be holding a metal object. Thus, I find myself challenged to write, and write often. With two children under the age of three, writing daily is a high and often unfulfilled expectation. However, writing these weekly blog posts, journaling my thoughts and feelings through poetry, and continuing to actively develop book ideas are all methods to continue to develop not only my vocabulary and voice, but also to actively cultivate inspiration.

I would guess that creativity is also vital to your profession and passions, whether you are a writer or not. The fields of science, art, business, education, and government thrive when individuals go above and beyond the expected and integrate creative solutions into their work. The best way to innovate is to understand the inner-workings of your industry: the more you recognize how all of the facets of your industry interconnect, the better equipped you are to identify both gaps in efficiency and opportunities to innovate. So learn as much as you can! Become deeply engaged with your work and your passions and, more likely than not, you'll find that inspiration will find you in the midst of your efforts.

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