Nike had it right

A couple of days ago, I spotted an article on the web about the 10 habits of creative people. I can’t tell you what the other nine were, because I got stopped at #1: creative people wait around for their muse to show up.

I believed that 30+ years ago. I thought I’d write a book one inspiration at a time. I’d wait until I felt like writing, write a few hundred or even a thousand words, and then wait again. Time in between writing jags: weeks to months. Needless to say, that book never got written. I bet if I looked around my backup files long enough, I might find a few thousand words do still exist. They will remain safely trunked, however. Unlooked for, and unmourned.

As any Word Posse member can tell you, some days you do feel inspired, almost as if you are a mere conduit for words coming straight from some mystical source, as if something semi-divine is trusting you with their very own words. Other times, writing is just what you do. And sometimes, it a chore, more like wrestling a greased pig than gently guiding heaven-sent words onto the page. The weird thing is, no matter how little or much “inspiration” you had when you wrote the words, you won’t be able to tell later which ones were painful to write, which were just blah, and which were rapturous. They all read the same.

You don’t become a writer (or designer, or painter, or concert pianist…) by waiting around. You become something because you worked at it every day. Perhaps you take your birthday off, or you don’t work when you’re sick, but almost every day, you did something. You wrote. You sculpted. You sketched out some hemlines. You worked on the harmonies to go with the melody you jotted down last week. Whatever it is, you worked on it. And you went on the next day and worked some more. And the next day. And the next…

Sooner or later, you had a sculpture, or a play, or a dress pattern, or a poem, or a song. It might be terrible. It might be good. It might be fantastic. But it won’t be there unless you put the work in.

Are you working on something right now? Did you work on it today? If not, perhaps you should put down the internet slowly, back away, and get back to what’s really calling you.



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