I was starting to feel really guilty about not writing a blog. I vowed that I would write one post per week. I have not kept my promise. At the same time, any writer out there knows that forced writing is painful to write and probably painful to read. I used the lack-of-a-good-idea excuse for not writing. It is a very good excuse, but, like any excuse, it gets old if used too often.
Then I started to worry. I will never be a writer! A couple weeks passed by and nothing! No light bulb lit up, no index finger pointed to the sky, and no eyebrows rose in enlightenment.
To be fair, I did have my head shoved very deeply into my studies for some time given that it was exam season. But I was still living and breathing in a world ripe for the picking (of ideas). I could have written about students and studying, or professors going mad from marking hundreds of papers, or I could have deemed coffee as an official drug… But I am too picky. None of those ideas were good enough. I can’t just pick an idea and write about any old thing, the idea has to pick me, or better yet, the idea has to be inspired.
After a week of catching up on sleep, toasting a few beverages in end-of-term celebration, and various Christmas preparations I became mentally restless and was aching for a blog idea! During school we are given syllabuses and a list of readings and a list of essay topics. When we write, our ideas have already been slightly molded and directed by the structure of the course.
Writing in a journal or on a blog is a completely different brain exercise.
I’m so used to asking my professors, ‘how many words?’ or ‘how many sources?’ or ‘is this a good thesis?’ Alone, I don’t have a professor to fall back on and help me sift my ideas…
Well, let’s step back for a moment here. Why do I ask my professors these questions all the time? Because, I want to get a good grade, I don’t want my paper to be bleeding with red marks; I want my paper to be well received and even impressive.
But personal writing is motivated by something different, not by the fear of a ruined G.P.A, but by a more intimate personal ambition.
Personal writing is fueled by the desire to create something and feel proud about that creation. Personal writing is the act of articulating a deep emotion and sharing that articulation with others. What is important about personal writing is the cathartic process of writing itself for the writer and not what the reader thinks of the writing.
My theory is that writing only chances success if it is inspired. If writing comes from a base emotion, or from a moving experience, or is simply genuine, it will probably be more of an achievement for the writer (and more entertaining for the reader) than a piece that was blindly forced with no emotional backing.
So, how did this whole mental thought come about? It was something my yoga instructor said. My limbs were shaking in warrior pose, my body rebelling against my persistent mind, and my instructor said, “Remember your breath. We are trying to reach that mental space we are in while drawing or writing; that creative mental space”. His words were causing a light bulb to flicker in my mind. He added, “In those moments, in that brain space, we are in the moment and that is what we are aiming for now”. I’m sure I don’t have his words verbatim, but their meaning can be expressed quite simply: creativity lives in the moment.
That is why it is sometimes so difficult to capture an idea, because it lives in a moment, for a moment. This reality may seem depressing, but the saving grace is that inspiration can be sought out. True, sometimes inspiration comes to us unannounced, it sneaks up on us, and then runs and hides, but there are many things that almost always bring about inspiration.
Think of yoga for instance, or physical activity in general. The body is being pushed to its limits, all pores are sweating and the face is set to a grimace, but after the last set or rep or pose, or whatever, there is mental clarity. When the body and mind align there is a moment of clarity and quite often, in this very moment, wonderful ideas spring to mind. I’m sure there is biological support explaining the intellectual clarity that comes with exercise (something about adrenaline and endorphins) but what is exciting is that writers can actively seek these chances for inspiration by ‘being in the moment’. I don’t have a long list of activities that condone ‘being in the moment’ but I know exercise, venturing outdoors, dancing to music, or observing art can illicit inspiration.
Inspiration is a funny thing. It is some abstract emotion that comes from any number of things. Inspiration could come from a rock, or a wise old man, or inspiration could come from random words uttered by a child. Varying as the causes of inspiration are, the ability to feel and recognize inspiration is universal; it is that thing that moves us deep within, it is that thing that enlightens us, that thing that causes a movement in our mind that we have not felt before. Inspiration is original and unique and fleeting, but ultimately it is precious. Inspiration is both what artists seek and what artists hope to give.
I may not often be struck with an impressive idea, and I may struggle to write impressive things, but I know now that inspiration is, at least somewhat, catchable. We do not always have to wait for it to come to us. Even though I may never become a recognized author, if I write of things that inspire me, and if I aspire to live my life in the moment, I think I will be successful in a much more meaningful way.