Sitting in English class, I always thought that inspiration came from the outside.
For example, Poe had a dark life, experienced plenty of death, and drank a lot. So, he produced material that reflected that. And Hawthorne. He was so ashamed of his family’s legacy in the Salem Witch Trials that he changed the spelling of his name and wrote about the shunning of a young female by the Puritan community. Or my man, Joyce. His home country of Ireland was a constant point of contention and inspiration, even if he had to slip his rage in between the lines.
And for most of my life, this conclusion has proved true. Inspiration really can come from anywhere, so it is important to keep an open mind while walking along the street or taking a road trip.
But enter me into adulthood. It’s Groundhog’s day everyday. I go to work, I come home, I eat, I go to bed, and I do that five times a week. And I don’t have to tell you that it’s really hard to create something when you are just trying to get through a work week. Sort of like singing into a black hole.
For a while, I just didn’t get it. How did people express themselves artistically when they were being numbed by a daily routine? Where did people find the time to search for inspiration in the mundane? When would I climb out of my own apathy?
And most importantly, could I remember the last time I felt like I was on fire? Because inspiration is like that. You’re burning up with a fever, and you’re working up a sweat, but you’re warm all over. You’re suddenly not just alive, you are thriving.
And then it hit me. If you can’t be set on fire from the outside, it’s going to have to come within.
You see, inspiration really is on the inside already. What you experience while living life may help you to trigger something, but that’s only because the potential was there before. You’ve got the tinder and the spark.
So, the next time that you are worried that inspiration hasn’t struck, writer’s block has been lodged, and you’re out of ideas, set yourself on fire (SO METAPHORICALLY). Light the wick inside and shine brightly. You’re only one match away from a masterpiece.