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Is Inspiration a Tool or a Crutch?

Inspiration is what gives passion to story. No, it is what births a story worth writing. It's the idea, the concept behind the words. It's what breathes life into our words so that what we write aren't mere words slopped onto a page, but something that will leave the reader feeling like they read magic. 

But inspiration doesn't write stories. 

People do.
Or to be more accurate, fingers and dead brains trying to grasp at fizzling inspiration that won't stay long enough to be translated into words.

Inspiration, that loved but hated the thing that mysteriously fuels every plot bunny and big idea.

Inspiration, that thing that laughs and says, "You may have me only if you give me all your blood and tears."

But how many of us are willing to make the trade? And is the trade even worth making?

And here we come to my questions: Is inspiration a tool or a crutch? 

Must we be inspired to write? Is inspiration even necessary? 

Of course, that initial inspiration is necessary. But after that . . . relying on inspiration alone to write a story seems dangerous. It's like running a race but refusing to continue on if your adrenaline falters.

Relying on inspiration alone is akin to hiking up a mountain, but stopping before you've reached your destination to look over the mountain. You sit on the cliff's edge because your legs are too tired to take you any further. And yes, it's almost dark. But you ignore the sounds of the hungry wolves or the threat of falling asleep and tumbling over the edge.

Relying on inspiration alone is risking losing it altogether; gambling your goals and passions for your belief that, "the feeling will return . . . later."

Sometimes the motivation to write is a choice—a choice to run up the steep mountain even when your strength is dead. Sometimes waiting on the inspiration will only leave you stuck. And being stuck kills inspiration altogether.

Inspiration births the story, but I write it.
Inspiration gives me the idea, but I develop that idea with all of who I am.

Once inspiration strikes I don't wait for moods or feelings or motivation. I write. And I write some more. And I push myself even further.

Amazing word by agonizing word, I write my stories.

Is it hard?


But writing isn't supposed to be easy. Unless you choose to write only as a hobby (which is fine if that's what you want) writing isn't a part-time job but over time. And jobs don't have time for waiting for magical feelings.

Not that those magical feelings aren't good—you just have to remember them and record them, and then . . . write.

Writer's write.

They don't sit around wallowing in wishes in self-pity, "Inspiration! Come back to me!"

They pick up their pens and they force inspiration to show her face. Writers don't let inspiration rule them, but writers rule inspiration.

It sounds hard. That's because it is hard. It's a war between your mind and your body. And who will win? You or inspiration?

"You might be a writer if you . . . defeat inspiration and write that story no matter how you feel."

P.S. Audrey Caylin wrote this amazing post on how to find your inspiration and be a joyful person/ writer. What I love about everything I just wrote and what she wrote is that this applies to anything and everything, not just writing. Don't let feelings hold you back. Put in the effort and pain, and stuff will happen. 


  1. I LOVE this post, Keturah! <333 I really needed this today. :)

  2. Really good post! I've found through my experience that beginning writers need the "inspiration" to carry them through the drafting process for at least one story (or seven in my case). Once they get committed to one story, then the inspiration crutch is lifted somewhat. I still find it rather difficult to materialize scenes without some starting inspiration, and I doubt that I'll ever get off that entirely...but at least I'm starting!

    By the way - the link you gave to Audrey's blog is broken. Audrey's blog has been completely deleted, so none of her posts exist in the interwebs anymore :(

    1. Thanks, Catherine!
      Yes, that's so true, even for me. That's why I find just writing, writing, writing helps. SOMETHING will come out, and that something will give me inspiration for redoing what I've already written, or such. It's certainly hard to write without inspiration. But wow, seven novels at once! I definitely stick to one at a time ;p Though I might swap novels between drafts.

      Yes, I just realized that myself. You see, I write some of these posts months in advance then schedule them. I didn't realize this had something outdated in it ;/

  3. Inspiration is only the beginning! ;)

  4. I like this. It's not very comforting. *glares at the manuscript which is taunting me with the need for another round of hard edits* But it's encouraging, in a light-a-fire-under-your-seat kinda way.

    And the main thing is, it's true. :) So thank you.

    1. ahhh I hate those other rounds of edits ;0
      Eh, that's me though, never comforting but always encouraging ;p

      Thanks for your fun comment! ;)

  5. "Inspiration births the story, but I write it."


  6. Such a good post! I love it when there is inspiration, but I learned to do it without any too.

    1. Thanks, Skye! Yes, I love some huge bits of inspiration ... but that's so great you've learned to write without it. A must have skill ;)

  7. J+M+J
    Yes, I completely agree.
    "Sure!" You say at the beginning, when all your glorious details and plot twists suck you into your story-world... but then you sit down with the old ink and feather and realize "Wait a sec... how'm I supposed to get from point A to point B?" And just about all your adrenaline gets caught up in a bottle-neck and you want to just skip ahead to the fun part.....
    And it can be soooo hard to not do so....
    But ya know, the one book I actually HAVE ground through once, the climax was totally worth the hardship, it was the funnest piece of writing I've ever written! (Yes I did just say 'funnest' *innocent glance at wall*)
    (Though, I'm currently partially through a second draft of said story, and the old 'skip ahead to fun part or put off till later' bug has been tempting me and putting off my writing for over a month now... ARG!!!)
    So in other words: Yes, great post!

    The Doorman.

    1. What a poetic way to agree! Love it!
      And me, too! Some of my best pieces of writing were forced out of myself.
      And if "funnest" wasn't meant to be an English word, why do we need to use it so much? I vote we add it to the dictionary.

  8. Hey, thanks for this reminder. It is...needed. XD
    Seriously, though, yeah. I love that you don't denigrate if it's not important /at all/ (which, um, it is)...but also don't leave any excuses.
    Really it's nicer NOT to think that you have to rely on inspiration, because then you have more to be proud of when you succeed. The Muses don't get to take all the credit, you know?

    1. Yes, I think we writers (or humanity in general) are always too quick to throw out everything when something isn't working ... I like to see both sides and make them not only meet in the middle, but embrace one another, leaving their garbage behind or shouldering it together, whichever suits better ;)

      Ahh love how you say it allows for self-pride when you succeed. Because, yes, those muses are too painfully slow and greedy to be allowed any ounce of credit whatsoever ;0

  9. Spot-on!! If you only write when it's easy and you're inspired, you'll never have enough inspiration to finish.


    1. So glad you agree ... because you're meant to have finished stories ;)


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