Timing Inspiration: When Motivation Strikes at the Wrong Moment

I’ve been lecturing myself all month about my lack of motivation for writing.

Since graduation I’ve had all the time in the world to work on my prose, short stories, and novel but instead I’ve been watching YouTube and reading WEBTOONs. I have no self-discipline without a strict professor and a due date to keep me in check. I have proven that to myself time and time again. I still can’t bring myself to actually work. I need something to give me a push.

I thought that fixing up my office would help me feel more motivated to work. I am so proud at home beautiful, warm and welcoming my space has become. I have two full bookshelves filled with amazing literature lining one wall. I put in a pretty little cherry-wood desk under a wide, bright window. I even added a big, burgundy futon with autumn-colored pillows to give the room a cozy feel. The room is everything you could want it to be for a writer’s retreat, and yet I never use it. It turns out there was a bigger issue than just work-space at play.

The problem is that I’m never motivated at the right time.

Inspiration always strikes at the exactly wrong moment. It will hit while I’m driving and unable to record my thoughts, or while I’m at work and and can’t start a draft, or when I’m drifting off to sleep and too tired to write. My mind likes to tease me by giving me the best ideas when I can’t act on them. When I try to re-call those moments, or recreate them in appropriate times, the words won’t come.

The mood strikes strongest when it aims to mock me.

This week I’ve been in a real writing mood. I’ve stumbled across a WEBTOON called Edith (I highly recommend, if you are into graphic novels) and then a book of short fantasy stories called Book of Enchantments. Something about these two reads really hit my writer’s soul. Today I woke up to cloudy skies, a slight breeze, and soft rain. With my cat purring at my feet and coffee gurgling in the kitchen all I wanted to do was sit at my desk and pour out my mind onto the page. The problem? I had to go to work instead. I didn’t want to miss this perfect setting, but I also have bills to pay.

Can I create the right time for motivation?

Can I construct the perfect set of circumstances to induce inspiration?  I know some of my triggers and habits. I know I am a night owl who is most productive and creative after the sun sets. I know that music helps free the words in my mind. I know that starting with a journal entry will loosen my pen’s ink. I know all of this, yet I am reluctant to try to “force a flow”. The purist me is afraid of artificial motivation, as if its somehow cheating. The more realistic part of me realizes that all professional writers have rituals to set the mood, so constructed inspiration is part of being a writer.

What it comes down to is timing motivation. I have already taken to carrying around a journal to jot down my fleeting thoughts whenever possible, but I need to do more. It’s time to actually create a writing ritual to stimulate my creativity. The biggest challenge is the fact that I am most motivated at night, but I also work the swing shift meaning that my peak creative times are when I’m still at the office.

Like all things, I think the key lies in finding the right balance.

I can create the environment I need in order to write without trying to force the words to come. I can work as well as I can when inspiration strikes, then try to recreate those moments when the time is right. I’m not the kind of person who can just sit down and write for hours at the drop of a hat, but I’m also not someone who gives up easily. I do want to write and find motivation within myself to make it happen. I am just working on finding the perfect formula of timing, inspiration, and self-motivation to make it work.

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