Priming the Pump for Inspiration

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Over the past few months, I’ve felt frustrated. I love writing. It’s like dancing for my soul. Yet, when I sit to write only a stray sentence or two comes and nothing else.

I became interested in this phenomenon. What was the cause of what is commonly called “writer’s block”? As my frustration grew, I sat less often to write. I felt despair that I would be able to get back in the groove, so to speak.

I read my past writings. Some were good, and I wondered who wrote them and my frustration increased. I would sit quietly early in the morning and make sure I didn’t have distractions. Nothing changed. A few sentences came and that’s it.

One day I picked up a book of poetry by Billy Collins. I was grilling hamburgers and wanted to read between turning the burgers. As I read, my mind felt freed. Ideas came flowing and the apparent blockage was gone.

The next day, I continued the practice of reading what inspired me and left me with questions. Boom. Ideas flowed and the blockage wasn’t there. As I thought about this, I realized that my mind had gotten into a rut so to speak. Busy doing stuff and little or no time to disconnect and allow the creative flow.

I wondered if this isn’t at the root of all creative blockages. We get caught up in the rhythm of life. The getting up, going to work, coming home and going to bed routine that becomes all life is. This routine gets more and more entrenched, and creativity ebbs until it’s mostly gone.

The way out is to stop. Find out what inspires you. Could be seeing a movie; walking in the woods; gazing at a sunset; a fine meal. Whatever it is, approach it outside your routine. Make the time to fully enjoy the experience. I don’t claim that my realization is universal or will help you. What I do know is that it is right for me and may help someone else reading this. If it does, let me know.

Sacrifice Not Required!

Today was a peculiar day for writing. The weather is perfect. It’s sunny, the temperature is in the low 70s and there is a gentle breeze. My relatively new office overlooks an amazing stream and the outdoor pours in, inviting me to come out and play.

Guess what I want to do? I want to have a temper tantrum, which could look like sitting here staring outside, and feeling angry that I’m here and not there. Yet, I sit here with my fingers poised over the keyboard and wait for writing to pour forth. Surely there is something that needs to be expressed.  I get it, I’m going to share with you my frustration about being at the keyboard, rather than walking barefoot in the grass.

It’s good to remember that distractions take many forms. One that’s very familiar to me is worry. My worries are generally about something that’s either going to happen or should happen, but probably won’t. Today though, my distraction is annoyance. The alternative to writing appears to be so attractive that I forget, temporarily, why I write.

I love writing. When I write, I see things more clearly, I connect with you and I expand my abilities as a teacher. I see that part of the nature of my distraction is the illusion of sacrifice. My little voice is protesting my choice of activity with the warning that if I don’t go outside RIGHT NOW, I will miss out on the best day of the year. The voice is very convincing. I’ve followed it many times.

I realized a while back, that the type of sacrifice the voice is using to induce me to abandon writing isn’t real. I can write and spend some time outside. This won’t be possible if it sit here paralyzed by “writers block”. I decided about ten minutes ago, ENOUGH. I’m going to have some fun writing about my dilemma and not put any attention on the voice’s dire prediction. I know I’ll be outside in no time at all.

How often do you allow distraction to take you away from what’s important? It happens so subtly. One minute you are getting ready to do what you love, and the next you are drifting in thoughts. You discover later (could be minutes or hours or days) that you have been lost.

Remember distraction comes with a high cost, as the present moment will never be here again. OK.. now it’s time to go outside

Remembering

I noticed that I put off writing today. I was very busy, you know. I have important things to do. I heard that story go on for hours and then I asked myself, “what the hell is going on here?” Oh, I don’t want to stop and reflect. I want to be like the robot, who is programmed to be busy all the time.

So stop I did and look out at the stream and the gray sky. The music the family is listening to travels in and I remember there are others in this world other than me. I don’t know if you have the same experience, but it’s so easy to forget what I said was important this morning.

I’m glad I remembered before the day is over, and now I write this poem. Poetry is the music that gives me perspective and a reminder that what’s real is seldom what I think.

Remembering

Sometimes it’s just a few words or a smell or a glance that brings everything to a halt.
I don’t know where they originate or their timing. They surprise.

The only thing is, I miss most of them. I’m cruising along as fast as my mind can travel
and there is so little else that I notice. I move deeper into my maze of thoughts.

I forget the moment when time last stopped. I overlooked your kindness just last night.
I only see the cold when the sun has been shining all day.

I blink and when I next look in to the mirror, I wonder what happened. Who is this
strange man looking at me? He seems so sad.

Is it too late to remember to stop and feel the breeze or taste the rain or feel your touch?
Maybe not; perhaps it just takes remembering what’s real.

Thomas

LIberation Day!

What are you afraid of? For me, it’s making mistakes. I feel awful, when I believe I have done something incorrectly. Maybe, it’s an old fear of being shamed or teased. I don’t know. Whatever the cause, it’s a limitation that I’m pretty tired of.

When I look at it rationally, it doesn’t really make sense. What if I fall off my bike or burn the stew? What does it matter if my writing is substandard today and I farted in the checkout line? None of these actions define who I am. They are just passing moments that are left on life’s cutting room floor long after I leave.

Today is liberation day. I have decided (it’s actually that simple) that I don’t care if I make mistakes today. You see, the hidden truth is that my fear of making mistakes brings with it more mistakes. It’s ironic – that which I fear, I experience. Quite a conundrum I created.

Today, I’m going to do what I feel is right, with no worry about any errors I make. Just sharing this with you, I feel lighter. The French have Bastille Day on July 14th, I have Liberation Day on April 25th. It’s time.

What about you? What are you afraid of? Are you ready for your liberation day?

Thomas