Inspiration’s Death Spiral Into Obligation

Something I have noticed in myself and in other writers who hold large ambitions: We start out a writing project with a sense of verve and inspiration. Everything comes easily.

And then later at some point, things slow down. Inspiration turns into obligation. It feels like drudgery. Just another thing you have to do.

This death spiral of inspiration always feels different. Maybe you had been on a roll, and then you have to take a trip for a few days. When you come back, you no longer feel an entry point into your book. You don’t know what to blog about.

Maybe the shift has brought about a change in perspective and it’s an opportunity to reassess things.

Maybe the project really isn’t for you. Maybe your energies really are better spent elsewhere.

It’s possible.

Much more likely is that you are succumbing to the siren song of self-defeat.

It pays to know your own patterns and to have an outside perspective to call you out when you are lost inside a death spiral.

From my own experience, I have noticed a pattern maybe you can relate with. In tandem with the decline in inspiration comes a general lowering of my sights. It is disguised as the voice of reason, and reason is delivering bad news: No longer do my goals appear achievable. Yep, this is yet another failure. Go ahead and let go into overwhelm. Boredom. Yet more clutter in the creative domain.

I faintly remember that I had a great idea for a book. I wrote several chapters.

Then something else happened.

It’s funny how life naturally brings these challenges that fit so perfectly into patterns, yet each time the outcome looks unavoidable.

What begins as a perfect strike becomes a gutterball. No sense even watching the ball roll down the rest of the lane. Once it’s in the gutter, it has reached its final destination. A bit of gutter = total gutter, followed by more gutter.

Everyone needs strategies that keep us in the intensity, keeps us going when things get uncomfortable. When we lose that sense of ownership of a seed planted by inspiration. When the baby you had wanted for years wakes you crying all hours into the night.

The labor of love has become a chore.

A chore will not automatically revert itself into joy. It needs something extra.

You can’t just wait for things to correct themselves.

You have to be willing to bring more of yourself.

In the movie version of your life, you’re doing pushups, training hard. You’re maxed out. Exhausted. You’ve reached your end. Yet your coach is able to get more from you.

We need reflection. Community. Support. Accountability.

I offer this as a writing mentor. I receive this from my peer groups and business collaborators.

[bctt tweet=”What’s important is not only that your work is done but also that you are more yourself by going through the process of it.”]

A project with no life isn’t worth anything. Besides, an author needs to be able to stand behind their work if they are going to be able to promote it for years to come.

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