Every week, I try to reach into the bag and pull out a free-form post. It’s a time to pick at a scab, talk out something that’s been bothering me, interesting me or is happening in the world and see what comes out. More often than not, these posts come easily. An idea hits, and I run with it. Some are better than others, but it is rarely a challenge to come up with a topic. It’s unusual that there isn’t something nagging at the back of my mind and that has served me and this blog well.
This week, that didn’t happen. I put my hand into the bag, but came out with nothing. For one reason or another, “the muse” didn’t visit. Thankfully it’s not a problem… You see, inspiration is great and I welcome it when it appears, but I can’t count on it. If I expect it, the time will inevitably arrive when I need it and it just isn’t there.
While not finding an idea to blog about may not seem like the end of the world, this has always been a bit of an achilles heel for me. Not just with writing, but projects, diets, workout regiments and more have fallen victim to my expectations for some magic force to make things happen. I was counting on the undependable. I’d run short of inspiration, skip a day and before I knew it, I’d fallen off one wagon or another.
There are lots of things I’m attempting to do to overcome this little shortcoming of mine, but if I had to key in on the one thing that’s making the biggest difference, it’s this: I started capturing everything. Ideas, thoughts, quotes, and am willing to jot down nearly anything that occurs to me. It may seem like a waste of time, that I’d be better off focusing my energy on what I’m supposed to be focusing on rather than whatever happens to pop into my head, but quickly creating this reserve of ideas has served me well. In fact, the genesis of this very post, the idea that you shouldn’t count on inspiration, comes from a note I made on the subway on May 12th.
In any project, you want inspiration to be there at the beginning and while it might rear its elusive head along the way, you don’t want it to be the thing you count on. You want it to mix with your instincts, you want to let it fuel your passion and you want it to help drive your idea forward. But don’t get lazy; don’t fall victim. Know that one day, you’re going to reach in and find nothing. Be prepared, plan your next steps and have a reserve of ideas that relate to all of your active projects. Trust me, when you find yourself high and dry, you’ll thank me.
How about you? What do you do when you have nothing? How do you stay on track when the tracks just don’t seem to want to play along?