Imagine a person who needed energy, but was so busy with work that they forgot to eat. After going for a long period of time without food, this person becomes so weak that they lack the energy to make the necessary efforts to prepare or procure food. “I need food, but I feel too weak to get up and go get it,” they say.
What’s the solution to this predicament? The answer comes down to one simple word: eat! That’s the only thing that will help. This person must find a way to eat. Maybe that requires a heroic effort to get up and prepare a meal. Maybe that requires the assistance of a good friend who delivers food. Maybe that requires a little intravenous therapy. However the job gets done, this person needs to get food into their system. The last thing they should do, however, is wait until they have the energy to get up and get food. Having energy isn’t the savior in this scenario. Having energy is the consequence of eating.
Creating is to inspiration what eating is to energy.
Imagine a person who wants to write, make art, compose music, or do interesting things, but lacks inspiration. After going for a long period of time without inspiration, this person becomes so apathetic that they don’t feel the motivation to lift the slightest finger towards doing what makes them come alive. “I need to create, but I don’t feel inspired enough to do anything” they say.
What’s the solution to this predicament? The answer comes down to one simple word: create! That’s the only thing that will help. This person must find a way to take at least one small action-step towards a constructive goal. Maybe that requires a heroic effort to write something even if it’s really bad writing. Maybe that requires a good friend who offers accountability. Maybe that requires a little art therapy, creativity coaching, or even professional help. However the job is done, however, this person needs to get actively involved in the creative process. The last thing they should do is wait until they feel inspired before doing anything. Inspiration isn’t the savior that makes art possible. It’s the reward that’s made real by our willingness to create even when we don’t feel like we have what it takes to do great things.
Creating, like eating, is an activity that brings nourishment and offers us a steady supply of energy. As Isaac Morehouse often says, “Creating begets creating.” The more you create, the more you have the power to create. The greatest reward of participating in the creative process isn’t a well-written book or a well-composed song. The greatest benefit is a well-formed soul, a well-developed mind, and an inner wellspring of self-determination that doesn’t depend on a good day or a good mood to do meaningful work.
If you’re feeling uninspired, here’s my suggestion: try creating something.
T.K. Coleman is the education director for Praxis and an adjunct faculty member for the Foundation for Economic Education.