Monday, August 6, 2012

The Myth of Inspiration

Do you have a romantic image of the writing life? Light streaming through the window, you clicking away at your computer keyboard, composing page after page of brilliant prose?

You wouldn’t be the first to conjure up that image.  However, that image is most often no more than a fantasy of the writing life. 

One of the biggest mistakes people make in both writing and creating, is waiting to be inspired. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being inspired.  It’s wonderful to write in a glorious state of flow, when words come without effort, aligning themselves into perfect sentences needing little or no editing. 

The problem comes in the belief that you only begin writing when you’re inspired.  If we wait for inspiration to find us, most writing---or any creative work for that matter, would never get done.

Here are 3 strategies for helping inspiration along (as well as three great film recommendations)!


Some years ago I saw a wonderful film called “Starting Out in the Evening.” In the film Frank Langella plays aging author Leonard Schiller.  There are many fine moments in the film.  One of my favorites was the dedication with which Professor Schiller sat down each day to write.  His writing hours were sacred, not to be disturbed.  Did he produce good writing every day?  Not at all, as the film reveals.  But he considered his pre-determined writing hours his job.


In the film “Finding Forrester,” Sean Connery plays a reclusive Pulitzer Prize winning author.  He mentors and teaches a gifted young man to write.  In a particularly well-played scene, the young man sits thinking, staring at the typewriter in front of him, not writing.  Eventually William Forrester hands him a manuscript to copy. He explains that sometimes just moving your fingers on the keyboard helps you to get started writing. I’ve tried this a number of times, and although it feels rocky at first, it very often works. Literally put your fingers on the keyboard and start typing.


“Finding Neverland,” is a film depicting the story of author J.M. Barrie’s inspiration for writing “Peter Pan.”  In the film Johnny Depp plays J.M. Barrie.  He is inspired both by the spirited relationship he creates with a young mother and her sons and his walks to the park, where he sits and writes in his leather-bound journal. If the walls of your usual writing space feel like they are closing in on you, get outside! I can practically guarantee a walk or new environment will stimulate your creativity.

You may have heard the proverbial expression, “Good things come to those who wait.” 

But, when it comes to writing, all three of these films offer us a glimpse of writers who knew something about the truth of inspiration. 

However you get inspired, it’s not about waiting.  Good things come to those who write!

If you find yourself needing some writing inspiration, contact me and request a GRATIS SESSION via phone or in person. Phone (800) 552-WRITE, that's (800) 552-9748 or write to me at to find out more.

Take good care, 


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1 comment:

  1. Susan,
    Thanks for a great post. What you say is true. We as writers must take that first step and put words on paper, no matter how poorly they look, sound or feel. Nothing short of doing this will get words out. You are an encouragement to writers and I enjoy your counsel every time you post.

    Julie Saffrin
    author of BlessBack: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life.