I’ve been reading Rachel Held Evans’s book called Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. In it, she explores the stories of the Bible through memoir, short story, poetry and other literary forms. If you’ve ever struggled with reading the Bible or wrestled with some of the stories in it, it’s a great book to make you feel less alone.
So far, I have loved this quote the most:
“Inspiration is better than magic, for as any artist will tell you, true inspiration comes not to the lucky or the charmed but to the faithful.”
Inspiration comes to the faithful. Don’t you just love that?
Showing up to work on your craft everyday, whether or not inspiration strikes, staying hopeful that the right idea will come, but showing up to do your duty even if that inspiration doesn’t strike — what beautiful work. That’s the work of the faithful.
I love reading books and essays by professional writers, people like Anne Lamott who tell writers to put their butts in the chair. She means that the hard part of writing is sitting at the work and getting the writing started. Writers who continually show up will eventually find inspiration. And if they don’t find inspiration, they find a body of work to publish anyway.
Lamott writes, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”
Though I’ve always been a writer, I struggle with persistence and consistency. If I love doing something, why do I avoid it? It’s easier to avoid it, that’s why. Why would I try and fail over and over? I could just say, “Oh, I wish I had more time to write,” and move on with my life.
Putting in the hours, writing horrible words, editing to “not-embarrassed”, and pushing publish all require courage. And some days I’m not up for courage. I need to write though. Otherwise, I don’t know what I think about something.
I’ve learned that “inspired writing” and “uninspired writing” both start at the same place. My duty is to sit down and do the work. If inspiration decides to fall upon me, well, that’s just bonus. Until then, I can show up everyday and write one word at a time.