I’ve been staring at a blank screen for an hour and twenty-two minutes. My weekly blog post is due, the kids will wake up soon, and I’ve got nothing.
This is the problem with inspiration. It’s not available on demand. She might be tapping on someone else’s shoulder right now, whispering words of wisdom in their ear … but for me, she didn’t stop by today.
So what do I do?
Do I close the computer and skip this week’s article?
Should I dwell on the fact that I don’t have 26 articles written and ready to go like my blogger friends told me to?
Or do I distract myself with busy work so I have the false illusion that I’m being productive?
Everything seems easier with inspiration, whether you’re working, writing, speaking, painting, eating healthy, exercising—heck, it’s even easier to love when you’re feeling inspired.
The key word here being: Feeling.
Feelings are fickle and sometimes we just don’t feel like doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
It’s like going to the gym. Most people know it’s good for them and they’ll feel great after they exercise. But when that alarm clock starts beeping at 5am, they don’t feel like getting out of bed.
A friend of mine told me once how he tackles that problem: “I want to run but I know I’m not going to feel like running, so I don’t think about the run. I focus on putting on my running shoes and walking outside. I tell myself that once I’m on the street, if I don’t feel like running, I can turn around and go back inside. But I never do. So long as I can get my shoes on and get on the road, I’ll run.”
What about having sex with your partner. We all know that couples who have sex regularly are happier in their relationships. And yet after a long, stressful day, sex doesn’t sound like a good idea. You feel tired, stressed or annoyed. You don’t feel like it. Then it becomes a vicious cycle. The less you have sex, the less you want to have sex with your partner, and the more the relationship starts deteriorating. I asked a friend of mine who was having marital problems how their sex life was going.
“I can’t remember the last time we had sex,” she replied.
“Maybe if you two have sex, things will improve.” I suggested.
“Ugh, I know.” She took a deep breath as her eyes met the floor. “But I just don’t feel like it.”
“Do you want to get a divorce?” I asked.
“No!” She said without hesitating. “I still love him, It’s just things haven’t been going well and I’m not in the mood.”
I pressed her. “Then, do it anyway. Go home tonight and have sex. You might be surprised how you feel afterwards.”
She called me a month later and said “I did what you suggested and all I could think was: why didn’t I do this sooner? We’ve been having sex regularly and our relationship has improved so much in the last few weeks.”
That’s the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people. They’re not solely driven by their emotions.
Do it anyway.
I closed my eyes and set an intention. I’m not sure what I’m going to write today, but please let it serve someone who needs to read my words.
The next thing I did was look back at my old blogposts to see what I wrote about during this time last year. I wrote one post about lessons I learned from a simple story my cousin shared at her father’s funeral and another about lessons I learned as we confronted Hurricane Irma.
I took a moment to express gratitude that I’m no longer facing these difficult times, even if it means I’m drawing a writer’s blank.
But then it hit me. It’s so obvious. Back then I only wrote when I was inspired, which made my writing a hobby, not a profession. But I’ve made a decision to go pro. And that means this article has to go out—no matter what.
We all face this struggle. We want to be consistent, produce good work, and get good results. But that means we have to show up even when we don’t want to.
By focusing on my intention of serving others, I realized my lack of inspiration was inspiring a post about lack of inspiration!
Inspiration is nothing more than a feeling. Successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do—even when they don’t feel like it.
So what do you do when you’re feelings get in the way of what you’re supposed to do?
Put on your running shoes.
Kiss your spouse.
Look up a healthy recipe on the internet.
Register for that course.
Sit in front of the blank computer screen.
A Moment of Clarity
The key is to take action regardless of how you feel. And stop worrying about inspiration. Once she realizes you’re not waiting around for her anymore, she’ll come find you. Isn’t that ironic?