“Someone once asked Somerset Maughham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Today I was cranky and uncomfortable in my clothes. Also, the kitchen cabinets needed to be wiped down and the dogs needed to be brushed. And there was laundry to put up.
So, I wrote.
Because that’s what I do every day. I walk downstairs. I get a cup of coffee and I make pages. Pages that overflow into paintings, photographs, handmade books and other works of my hands.
I make pages. Especially on days when Resistance is loud, discomfort is high and there are important things to do.
I met with a young poet yesterday. A young woman with words in her soul who is in the beginning stages of catching poems. We talked of daily habits and establishing a creative practice and about the fact that inspiration is overrated.
This morning, as I made my way down for morning coffee, I realized that I needed to remind myself of everything that I told her, yesterday. The house was filled with distractions; my brain was racing; and I felt off. So, I did what I’ve learned I must do. I chose the pages first. Because the pages inform everything.
This is what I told her
Write every day.
Read excellent, beautiful works. Ingest them like food. Because they are food for your craft and your soul.
Write every day. [even if you’re cranky.] If you don’t know what to write, write anyway.
And if you really don’t know what to write, try one of these things:
- Play with language. Move it around. Cut up magazines and old books and reconfigure text into new phrases.
- Move through your five senses. Look around the room or take a walk and make a list of things that you see, smell, hear, taste and feel
- Choose one word and elaborate.
- Write about what you think.
- Write about what you feel.
The effective creative life isn’t reactive. It’s responsive and disciplined. It’s full and grounded. Creative practice doesn’t wash away just because I’m sad or there are people who want my time. Creative practice holds in the face of ordinary tasks and exciting new dreams because you choose to show up to the work, whatever your work is.
Ernest Hemingway said, “The shortest answer is doing the thing.”
I love that. Whether you’re a writer, painter, musician or simply want to live an inspired life, it begins by showing up.
Be in your life,