When inspiration doesn’t help

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Have you ever been over-inspired?

I’ve been thinking about this concept for a while. It started after I noticed myself falling into a really terrible habit. Whenever I’d sit down to write something, I’d immediately open Pinterest or start reading a thousand random articles instead. It was like a magnet pulling me over there.

I told myself I was just getting inspired. I was helping myself past the scary beginning part. The unblinking blankness of the page has a way of sending ideas away to hide. I think this is because when you sit down, ready to create, you think that you have to put down the best thing you’ve got. If something is going to mar that stark blankness, it had better be darned good.

That’s what I do all the time. It’s a loophole. Rather than doing the work of starting that project, I look at the work of other people. I tell myself I just need to get inspired and then I’ll start. But as I’m “getting inspired” I waste all kinds of time and, when I’m finally done reading all of those articles or scrolling my way deep into the caverns of Pinterest, I feel really terrible. I always describe it as feeling like my mind is full of cotton balls. It’s a weird, foggy, resurfacing feeling and generally it makes me want to take a nap more than it motivates me to do the gritty work of creating my own things.

I believe that this is actually very destructive on a fundamental level. I think that if you are plugging up that beginning space with all of these other works, you’re not venturing into your own interior. You aren’t figuring out what you can do because you’re focusing on what everyone else is doing. This harms you creatively. It dulls original thought. When you sit down to make something and then absorb a long stream of content instead, you’re not only leaving that thing in there, but you’re bogging it down with all of this other stuff. You can lose yourself in the pile.

I’ve been trying to unstick myself from this awful habit for a while. I try to engage with one or two really great pieces of content a day, and then let everything else fall like sediment. I also do not have Facebook on my phone because I started feeling dulled after scrolling through it endlessly. Doing this has made me more clearheaded and more grounded because I’m running through the forest of my own thoughts rather than drowning in the sea of screen content. Actually, understanding what I think makes it so much easier to navigate that barrage of screen content.

The above picture is one of the pages of my notebook. I’m not saying that everyone needs to have a notebook like this because not everyone thinks the way I do. The reason why the notebooks help me is because they are my invitation to make a total mess of the page. I use the bits and pieces to gather together or explore further later. This blog post came from the above notebook picture. That above notebook picture is also a tiny snapshot into my mind. It literally looks like a weird mashed-up collage of words and pictures and a lot of half-formed other thoughts.

Like I say in my notebook, when there is too much input, you get stuck. You’ve got to balance input with some kind of output in order to avoid that cotton ball brain feeling. There’s a rhythm here, again. Absorb interesting things, but don’t let that energy become stale or suffocated in you.

Sculpt it into something else.

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