Blink, blink, blink. That’s the cursor at the top of my blank page. It keeps blinking and I keep staring at all that white space. I keep waiting for something to appear. Then I become the curser:
That’s not true, I can think of lots of things. Mainly excuses justifying the drought of ideas:
I’m not awake
I’m too hyper
It’s too hot
It’s too muggy
It’s too cold
The crummy weather isn’t helping
It’s too nice out, I shouldn’t be sitting inside writing
There are too many distractions
It’s too quiet
I have a lot going on at work
I have a lot going on at home
I have a lot on my calendar
I need to get out more
If I only had more time
I’ve already come up with over a hundred posts, what’s there left to say?
There’s no such thing as an original idea
I work better under pressure
Deadlines stifle creativity
More constraints would help focus my creativity
I’ve earned a break
I’m wasting my time
Maybe a little TV would clear my head
Television dulls the mind
The sun was in my eyes
My shoe was untied
You get the idea. I think that sometimes we suffer from the Goldilocks Syndrome: searching for something that is just right or expecting too much. Other times we suffer from the Emperor’s Clothes Syndrome: not seeing what is right in front of us (or is that seeing what isn’t in front of us). Either way we have to come to the realization that inspiration doesn’t fall in our lap, so sitting around waiting for it to hit us in the face like a slap from a wet towel is a waste of time.
There is no question that a blank page can be intimidating—especially one that stays blank for a prolonged period. It can be terrifying when inspiration packs up her bags and moves on without leaving a forwarding address. Let’s face it, being creative (writing, composing music, creating art, choreographing dance, etc.) takes effort. It’s not easy. I don’t think I would want it to be easy. What pleasure would there be in sitting in a trance as the words, notes, colors or movements poured out of us as easily as water from a faucet? Generally, the harder I work at getting something right, the happier I am with the results. I want to be actively involved in the creative process. For me the act of creating is what I love most. The final creation is a byproduct. Sure, the destination is what we shoot for, but the journey is what intoxicates.
Stop with the excuses and start looking. Turn over a few rocks, check the junk drawer, thumb through your high school yearbook, wander down the frozen food aisle. There is no telling when or where you will stumble over inspiration. Inspiration is lurking in plenty of places, but I’ve been over that before. The key is not to get paralyzed by that cursor or blank page, canvas, stage or music staff. Close the laptop, put down the brush, take off your toe shoes and go look.
What do you do when inspiration leaves town? What’s your go-to excuse?