A Friendly Nudge


You may have heard that you should not wait until you are inspired to write. This is sort of true, I think. It is definitely true that I sit at my work desk whether or not I feel inspired to write. My life away from the desk is busy with distractions – chores and relationships and news that have nothing to do with the stories I want to write. Caught in the swirl of my ceaseless domestic life, it is easy to forget why I want to tell my stories. On a bad day, those stories can feel like one more chore that needs doing.

So I make sure I am at my desk regardless of how inspired I feel that day. However, once I am in front of the blank page, I do not begin writing until I feel inspired. This doesn’t mean that I wait until an idea hits with me with such a jolt that I’m out of my chair and pacing the floor with excitement. Inspiration can start much quieter than that. Usually, it’s just a nudge. In fact, if I hadn’t quieted my mind in preparation to write, I might not have noticed it at all. When my mind is very busy, it takes a lot more than a nudge to get my attention.

But if my mind is still, that quiet pulse of inspiration is like a friend’s hand wakening me from a nap. I didn’t realize I was asleep until I felt that nudge. Now, something in me comes to attention, leans forward, looks at that small, interesting idea and asks, “What are you?” Before long the idea has grown, and if I leave my attention on it long enough, and if I ask enough questions, I might just have to jump out of my chair and pace the floor with excitement.

This only occurs if I remember how ordinary inspiration actually is. The Inspiration Store never closes, and all it’s goods are free. All I have to pay is attention. If I turn inspiration into something rare, something reserved for the few or the talented or the lucky, I’ll wait and wait and wait, avoiding the desk for fear of failure, until I fall into a sleep of despair. This is a sleep filled with lonely nightmares, dreams of isolation, where nothing comes to me and everything of value belongs to someone else. Meanwhile, my friend is right there, nudging me and nudging me, until I awaken to who I am.

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William KenowerComment