When Inspiration Doesn’t Strike

*insert swanky post preface that gets you jazzed for the rest of this post*

when inspiration doesn't strike.jpg

I considered announcing that I would be taking the rest of 2018 off when it comes to blogging. In other words, I’d quit Penprints until January 2019.

Because by January 2019, life will have settled down.

Or so I told myself as I looked at my list of blog post ideas with no interest in any of them (no, not even that Deep Work one I keep saying I want to write).

Here’s the deal. I know life will not “settle down” by January 2019. In fact, in lots of ways, it will be crazier than ever.

So why would I quit blogging for two and a half months?

Because I’m tired. Because my creativity is dwindling, and I want to channel what creativity I have to my novel-writing. Because I’m not inspired.

My life is not super hectic right now. There are occasional flares of craziness, but overall, it isn’t too stressful (but as we all know, my stress threshold is not high). The issue is a mixture of being lazy, mentally and emotionally burned out, and creatively worn out.

I’ve been on the edge of burnout on all fronts all year.

Jesus has been very gracious to me, and he’s arranged for events, trips, and people to be like defibrillators to me. He has been very good to me, so this isn’t a complaint against him. This is just honesty about how I’ve been fumbling around trying to figure out if I’m doing too much or not enough.

I know that a lot of it is my fault—it is me not being wise with my time, it is me sometimes simply not doing the work because I don’t want to (on all the theaters of war here, people—intense Bible study, my novels, my relationships, etc.), it is me digging myself deeper into a hole.

I’ve just not been feeling it. And by “it” I mean inspiration. It has not been striking, and so I haven’t been doing as much doing.

Creative work is tricky—you can’t force or fake it, and sometimes you do have to quit for a bit to rest and recuperate. Usually, however, you still have enough energy to create something. Usually, the creativity isn’t the problem. Usually, inspiration is the problem.

Inspiration is as reliable as feelings, friends (which, in case you weren’t sure, are super unreliable). That’s all there is to it.

Inspiration comes. And then inspiration goes. And then inspiration goes missing. And then inspiration is presumed dead. And then suddenly, inspiration has a resurrection. But then inspiration might run away to join the circus.

And where does that leave us? Without inspiration.

The big question is: what will we do when inspiration does not strike?

Will we do a rain dance, hoping it will return? Will we scroll through Pinterest for an hour searching for it? Will we take a nap to escape the reality that it might never come back? Will we let a blank screen crush the life out of us?

Do we quit the blog for two months? Do we shelve the novel until further notice? Do we close the sketchbook for weeks? Do we leave the song unfinished?

Do we take a break? Push it off until tomorrow? Take the path of least resistance?

Or, will we keep going, inspiration or not?

Here’s the deal: forget inspiration.

Just screw it. Screw feelings too, for that matter. Forget hype and positivity.

Life is chaos. It will never “settle down.”

Inspiration is flaky. We will never nail it down.

When life is chaos, do it anyway. When inspiration doesn’t strike, do it anyway. When you’re tired, do it anyway. When you want to be lazy, do it anyway. When your emotions are on a loop, do it anyway.

Exercise wisdom about what is important. Exercise wisdom in when you actually need breaks. (And if you don’t have wisdom, start walking with the wise and get wisdom.)

But, as a general rule, do it anyway.

Write the book. Craft the blog post. Paint the picture. Hang the drywall. Edit the story. Finish the song. Draw the comic.

Carve out the time to cultivate your creativity, but do not bow to inspiration.


I write this post because I have been working on the second draft of False Gods since April, and I’m not even halfway through it.

April, people. April.

In case you didn’t read that right: APRIL.

Part of this because I am simply slow. Part of it is because it’s taken this long to get some things ironed out/developed in my head. And part of it is because I’ve waited for inspiration to show up instead of cultivating discipline and creativity.

So here I am with fifteen days until NaNoWriMo, not sure if I’ll be drafting something new or working on what I drafted during NaNoWriMo 2017.

What do you do when inspiration doesn’t strike? Do you find you are emotion/inspiration-driven? Or are you discipline/logic-driven?

With love,

Rosalie

p.s. – a post about cultivating creativity is coming to a Penprints near you in the near future.

p.p.s. – if you haven’t already signed up for the cover reveal of my sci-fi flash fiction collection (Stars and Soul), there’s still time!

6 thoughts on “When Inspiration Doesn’t Strike

  1. Fantastic post! This is definitely something I have learned the hard way. You just have to make yourself be productive in your creative endeavors sometimes. Especially when it comes to Nano :P ;)

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  2. You put an old song in my head, I’m going to have to dig out my old Ceili Rain cd. https://youtu.be/9PWX2K0Q4vo
    You also reminded me of my daughter’s Psalty the Singing Songbook cds when one of the kids says he doesn’t feel like singing praises and the response is we don’t sing praise because we feel like it, we sing praise because we choose to and because the Bible tells us to.
    And then there’s the responsible adult side that says sometimes we have to do it because it’s the right thing to do and that’s all there is to it. (Though that usually applies more to things like laundry, dishes, meals – even prepping the coffee pot and setting the timer even though I’ve quit drinking coffee because Hubby likes his coffee and never remembers to do it himself.)
    None of which quite applies to blogging. Or does it? I guess it depends on the reasons you blog? ;-)

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  3. Screw inspiration! 🤣🤣 I love that! And screw feelings too! 🤣🤣 I know that wasn’t meant to be funny but picturing you actually saying that makes it a bit hilarious! I would challenge you to stick with False Gods for nanowrimo and preserver through that! I tend to mostly be a systems person so I don’t burn out easy but when I do watch out I am quite the binge eater, nap taker, tv watched you have ever seen! 😬 so some days it is just about getting started for me (even though what I am doing is not creativity driven)

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  4. Keep going Rosalie, don’t give in! We will be there for you. Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly dry, I write anyway. Sometimes that lights the fire. Sometimes, all it takes is a single sermon. Just fill up with whatever is lovely, whatever is true, whatever is noble.

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  5. This post was awesome. I’ve been struggling with the same things for months, so I totally get you. I think another important thing to remember is that writing takes work, especially when we’re not inspired. It doesn’t feel like it does when we want to write: easy, light, thrilling. It feels like trudging upstream through a muddy river, with weights tied to your shoulders and elbows. But when you make it to the end, when you finish the day having fought against the lack of inspiration, it’s worth it.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts! <3

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