You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. — Jack London

Violent imagery, perhaps, but consider the source. Still, it’s the kind of kick in the pants that anyone who aspires to creativity needs.

Not that you want to drag your inspiration in bruised and bleeding. A fine mess that would make when you try to turn it into something of beauty. Trying to pound a half-baked idea into something substantive rarely works.

One thing I tell people who think they want to write a book: You better be damn sure that you are genuinely interested in the idea, because you will be spending a lot of time with it. If you have an idea that interests you only insofar as you think it will make you money, there’s a mighty good chance you’ll run out of steam at the long, grueling stretch in the middle.

Inspiration can’t be forced, but it sometimes does need to be chased and tamed—maybe not with a club but perhaps with a Nerf bat.

But first, you need to figure out where your best inspiration hunting is.

A lot of magazine writers I know, when they have run out of ideas, spend time at the magazine racks leafing through magazines. Sometimes you can just find a story, give it a slightly new spin, and call it inspiration. Sometimes a published story triggers an idea for something else altogether.

Road trips are fertile ground for inspiration for me. The combination of motion, changing scenery and few distractions from my own thoughts has a freeing effect on my imagination. If I actually wrote all the novels I’ve dreamed up on road trips, I might actually sell one someday.

But sometimes road trip ideas escape, if I don’t get a good grip on them. If you don’t have a club handy, you may need to trap inspiration and save it until you have time for it.

When I can’t road trip, a long walk can help. Similar principal: movement and quiet.

Also, if I have some time to sit and stare at nothing in particular in a pretty place, inspiration sometimes peeks out. Busy places, where I can people watch, teem with inspiration.

Actually, almost anything I do that takes me away from my computer can provide inspiration. It’s kind of annoying how rarely inspiration wanders into my cluttered office. That’s just not the way it works.

Inspiration is not housebroken. It’s out, roaming wild and untamed. If you wait for it to come into the room and curl up at your feet, you’ll never accomplish anything.

So get up, get out, and go stalk the wild inspiration.



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    Last reviewed: 19 Jul 2012

APA Reference
Dembling, S. (2012). Want to Accomplish Nothing? Wait For Inspiration. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 1, 2015, from



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