There is only one circumstance in which I will purposefully avoid writing when I lack the inspiration to do so, and that’s when I’m heading over to YouTube to watch a specific set of videos I have saved for this exact purpose.
Three of the four are short, they are effective, and I wanted to share them with you, in case you are feeling stuck but want (or need) to get some writing done this morning.
1. People opening John Green’s new book (2012)
I first watched this video during my first (and at this point only) binge-watch of eight years’ worth of Vlogbrothers videos from start to current. Part of the reason I’d decided to do something that reckless was because I was in a writing slump. I don’t know exactly why this video inspired me so much. The many squeals of excitement? Hank almost telling John he loved him, even though it wasn’t August 3rd? I just remember stopping in the middle of my workout because I need to go write, RIGHT THEN. I’ve always said I won’t be disappointed if I never traditionally publish a book, but that doesn’t mean seeing other people excited about a new book doesn’t writespire me.
2. Grace’s New York Times bestseller
(Skip to around 12:50 for “the moment.”) Once again, I just happen to follow a lot of people who happen to write things, and sometimes their hard work and success just stirs up (sometimes a little too much) inspiration inside me. I think what really hits home for me is her emphasis on how much learning her book is an NYT bestseller means to her personally. As she mentions in the video, a lot of YouTubers publish books, and a lot of those books make it onto this bestseller list. That doesn’t mean it’s of any less value to her. This video is the reminder I often need whenever I’m feeling like my words don’t matter. If they matter to you, they’re important – regardless of how many people have already done what you’re doing.
3. A reminder that inspiration doesn’t exist
I return tot his video whenever I need to pump myself up, especially because it’s short. The idea that inspiration does not exist pokes fun at the misconception that we need to go looking for inspiration before we can write … which just isn’t the case. (And yes, this post is about that very thing … we’ll get to that.) My favorite line: “I make videos when I’m tired, sick, hungover, sad, happy, dying, sailing, rabid, buried, busy, neutered …” The point is, regardless of how we’re feeling, we just need to sit down and write anyway. Or do what we need to do to get into the right mindset, e.g., watch a four minute video.
4. On being afraid that everything we create is going to suck
“Don’t be afraid to suck.” Online creator Anna Akana points out in her VidCon keynote that the majority of what we create is going to be ‘just okay’ and not amazing. But if we never allow ourselves to create anything because we’re afraid it isn’t going to be good enough, we’re never going to get any better at it. Giving ourselves permission to write terribly is the only way to learn to write less terribly. I’ve been blogging for almost eight years, and I still have days where I don’t want to publish a post I’ve just written. But I do it anyway. You have to get into the mindset of just ‘doing it anyway.’ You might not like it, and at first, you might not be proud of it. But you did it – and can, and should, continue to do it. That’s what counts.
I treat ‘writespiration’ the same way I treat chocolate ice cream. I only indulge every once in awhile, when I have exhausted every other attempt at feeling okay enough to get some words out of my head and onto paper (or whatever I happen to think ice cream will cure at the time).
I’m certainly not advocating the idea that we need to be inspired in order to write. But some days – like Monday mornings, after you’ve overslept, and skipped your workout, and everything is just wrong – you really do need a little boost. I hope these videos won’t distract you for too long, and will get you in the right mindset to get back to writing ASAP.
This post was written as part of the Problogger: 7 Days to Getting Back Your Blogging Groove challenge. If you have been struggling to write the engaging, well-thought-out posts your blog is known for, or have abandoned your blog completely but are ready to get back into posting more regularly, consider joining the challenge today.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.