Lack of Inspiration

January 17, 2011 at 7:53 PM 6 comments

What is it about having to sit down and write something that makes all inspiration evaporate like jelly on the sun?

I thought writing would be an easy thing to write about when I made my list of daily subjects last week. I wanted something easy for Mondays…

It’s not been the best day for inspiration, but I still managed to plug away and churn out a diagram and 350 words. Eventually. Once I had the diagram, I could write about that. It doesn’t feel like my best work, but it’s only first draft, so there is time for adding a fine polish.

I sometimes worry that there are some things that just don’t polish up well though. Bread. Pillows. Geraniums. Unsalvageably dull prose…

I think it might be because I’m too close to it. I’m writing up results I’m very familiar with, so it feels as if I am just pointing out the obvious. But I have to bear in mind that I’ve been working with this stuff for 3 years now, and nobody else has, so what feels stale and obvious to me might not to others.

I hope not anyway.

Otherwise I’m up a certain rather smelly creek with evaporating paddles and a hole in the canoe…

My favourite working days are the ones when focus comes easily, inspiration flows, well structured prose bursts from my fingertips and fills the screen with observations of pure genius. A thousand words before breakfast sort of days.

More common are the days when I take an hour to warm up by freewriting in my Thesis Thoughts file about how uninspired I am, how I don’t feel like writing about any of the things I ought to be writing about, how I have to write or I won’t meet my deadline so I can’t skive.

Then, having done an hour of writing I need to do something else. Have a wee, get breakfast, check my blog stats…

Then I drag myself back to it and try to warm up again. Play a game of minesweeper. Open the thesis file. Stare bleakly at what I wrote yesterday or the day before, or a month ago, hoping that somehow that will make me want to write something. Play more minesweeper. Freewrite about how rubbish I am today.

If all else fails I have to bring on the cavalry, otherwise known as Making A List.

Lists are very useful.

I might list my options and work through the pros and cons, so I can rule out the ones I can face least and whatever’s left I have to get on with. Then I break it down and list each sub-task required to complete it. Hopefully one of those will give in, wave feebly at me and let me know I might stand a chance at completing it.

Or at least starting it.

Starting is good.

Often once I’ve managed to start it is not so hard to carry on.

If not, I might just give up and try again later, or skive and hope that refreshes me for the next day.

What do you do if you’re not inspired? Any tips?

Entry filed under: Writing. Tags: , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. corisel  |  January 17, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    What a great topic!
    If I’m uninspired and don’t HAVE to work on whatever my project is, like my blog or a painting, I tend to stop – which isn’t good. It can be hard to start again. I couldn’t tell you the last time I touched a paintbrush.

    My work requires me to be creative on a daily basis though, and when uninspired there I procrastinate a lot. However, because I have to do the work and there are deadlines I seem to manage to break through and get it done in the end.

    What I’m starting to realise is that often when I think I’m uninspired, I’m actually anxious. I’m worried that my ideas aren’t good enough, that I could be focussing on the wrong thing and that no matter how good my ideas are, I won’t be able to put them together well.

    What works for me is to start doing the job. I tell myself that it’s okay if what I do isn’t perfect or brilliant – it just has to be good enough to serve its purpose. Once I get started it all becomes easier, sooner or later it always starts to flow, my ideas crystalise and I usually come up with something that I’m quite happy with.

    • 2. knotrune  |  January 17, 2011 at 10:44 PM

      That’s a great insight about the anxiety. I have found that a problem with this current project, my upgrade, as I have to write 10k of thesis quality stuff, but it can be from any part of the thesis, except the bits I’d already written. (Not an actual requirement, just an accident that I’d been working on stuff that wouldn’t work so well.) So on the one hand I’m anxious about getting it good enough and at the same time I’m even more anxious about selecting the right bits. That has generated thousands of words in my Thesis Thoughts file…

      And your response to that is also very true. I call it the first draft and I don’t fret about it any more. NaNoWriMo taught me that. I guess that’s another blog post for the future!

      As for not HAVING to do a thing, I’m with you on that as well 🙂 which is why this postaday thing is so great, it makes me feel I HAVE to post on my blog, when if it was just a goal I set myself, I’d probably have slipped already!

  • 3. Angel  |  January 17, 2011 at 9:54 PM

    When I am uninspired, especially to write, I just start writing……it’s cliche I know, but I’ll put pencil to paper (I like it old-fashioned sometimes) and then something just comes to me and I go with it. You are not alone!

    • 4. knotrune  |  January 17, 2011 at 10:37 PM

      Hehe, that’s pretty much how I wrote this post! Can you tell ? 😉
      Not with the pencil, just as in starting and see what comes out.

  • 5. Fanny Agåker  |  January 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    You are definitely not alone with this problem! =) And unfortunately there is not set solution… As for me, I just have to suck it up and write during the time I’ve set off for writing. Even if I have no inspiration whatsoever… I’ll pick a part which doesn’t require any creative thinking whatsoever (like for example “I have no idea what to write so I’ll go ahead and just write captions for all of my pictures” or something like that) and usually that actually inspires me. And even if no inspiration appears I’ve still done something useful. =)

    By the way, on the subject of stuff you can’t polish… Hey, Mythbusters have proved that even a turd can be polished! Yup, a piece of shit can be turned into a shiny and pretty ball… =P Now don’t go around thinking I’m calling your work crap, I’m just saying that everyting can be polished! 😀

    • 6. knotrune  |  January 18, 2011 at 11:22 AM

      Yeah, I tried hard to think of stuff that I didn’t think could be polished! I didn’t say turd, coz I had a suspicion that just might be possible 😀 I went for stuff that, even if it could be polished, would make it into something so different as to not be the same thing at all, like pillows. I mean, what use is a polished pillow? Pillows are supposed to be soft, and polishing implies a hard and shiny surface, so… 😉


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