3 ways inspiration can work for you
These writers find real benefits in writing while inspired
April 18, 2012
A lot of writers downplay the power of inspiration. In fact, many agree with the writers quoted in my last column, “Do you need inspiration to write?” They feel that writing isn’t about luck, timing or divine intervention, but pure hard work.
And yet, others of us find value in inspiration. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron describes inspiration as both a miracle and the norm. It’s what pushes us out of a funk and lifts our spirits up. These are just three ways that inspiration can work for you:
Inspiration connects you to readers
How can you connect with your readers if you are not inspired? Southern California writer Victoria Klein and British children’s author Liz Kessler asked that very question. Klein believes inspiration is vital to her work: “For some, pushing through writer’s block [with] a no-pain-no-gain mind-set works perfectly. I’m not one of those people. Without inspiration, I have no desire to keep my butt in the seat and the computer on my lap.” She adds that if she isn’t moved or motivated to write about a topic, then she believes readers will have no motivation to read what she’s written.
Kessler struggles with the question of inspiration as it relates to writing. “It’s so obvious that inspiration is important,” she says. “That’s what stories are all about: Finding ideas in the world around us, writing them down, and then using our imagination and experience to bring these things into new existence in our books. I can’t really separate inspiration from writing—it’s all bound together for me.” She says moments of inspiration—whether they come when you are watching a movie or out with friends, for example—are what make our stories live.
Inspiration makes writing easier
Writing when you’re not inspired can feel like swimming against, rather than with, the current. “I can’t imagine writing uninspired,” says Matt Cheuvront, co-founder of Proof Branding. “There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to write when you just aren’t feeling it.” Similarly, Laura Spencer, a Texas freelance writer, believes that an inspired writer can write more quickly and more passionately.
When you are writing inspired, there’s something that happens to you. Your fear and anxiety temporarily subside, and they’re replaced with a surge of passion and focused attention. Whatever you’re working on feels effortless. “I always look for inspiration to create analogies or something the reader can relate to,” says Cathy Miller, a freelance business writer. “There are times when I struggle for the right analogy, but usually it comes pretty easily.”
Inspiration unblocks creativity
“The motivational state of inspiration—in which we are awakened and energized to engage in new possibilities—can spur greater productivity and creativity during the writing process,” says Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist, writer and professor at New York University. “In one study conducted by Todd Thrash [a psychologist specializing in creativity] and his colleagues, inspired writers showed greater creativity in scientific writing, poetry and fiction writing.” In fact, Kaufman says of the study: “Inspiration influenced the efficiency of the writing: Inspired writers were more productive, deleted sentences less, spent less time pausing, and used shorter words than those who were less inspired.”
It may be difficult to believe that inspiration, which seems illogical, could have meaningful and measurable consequences. But it does. It’s not just the novelist or the poet, but the psychologist and the business writer who use inspiration to motivate their work. Connection and creativity motivate us to write—and transform the seemingly impossible feat of writing into one of possibility.
Brandi-Ann Uyemura is an associate editor for Psych Central and a freelance copywriter, blogger and features writer.