I had no idea what to write this article about and I hesitated for a week. Every time I sat down to write or brainstorm something, I’d stare at my computer for five minutes, give myself an excuse like “I’m not feeling inspired right now,” and pull out my phone to distract myself. I did this for a week with no progress (but I finished my book! I beat levels in my mobile game!) so I came back from a different angle when I came back. Der Winkel: Whether I’m “inspired,” I have to make it.
So that brings us to today’s topic: how to find inspiration, how to stop procrastinating and how to just do it.
option one for me it was clearing away distractions. In my home office, I have a phone with Instagram installed, an iPad with two screens full of apps, a husband who sits next to me, and a small dog who always wants a pet. good sorrow When I was productive again, I put my phone and iPad on our faraway kitchen table, pulled up to my computer while my husband played golf, and let my dog sit on my lap. I pet her with one hand and type on the keyboard with the other—a small sacrifice. Some distractions are worth it.
option two, When I’m feeling particularly unmotivated is caffeine. I’m not a fan of coffee, but I do love hot tea and I’m really enjoying drinking matcha right now. When I’m caught in a cycle of distractions, I make a cup and feel my mind shift to its immediate focus. There may be a small placebo effect in this immediacy, but there’s also some scientific evidence: caffeine increases dopamine, and dopamine increases focus. Also, I spend the five minutes it takes to brew that cup of hot tea or matcha thinking about the task at hand. When I say goodbye to my desk, ideas snake into my head. win/win.
option three, go in. Waiting to “feel inspired” or in “creative mood” is a recipe for inaction. I learned this lesson after putting work on a fiction book on hold for nearly a year [I finally finished and] coming out early next year. I learned the slow way: inspiration for me comes when I’m already doing the work. So instead of waiting for it to hit you at just the right moment, force the inspiration to come and force yourself to do that work.
option four is to look at what other people are doing for inspiration. In the event that I know the topic I want to write about (“something about mental health” or “something about productivity”), sometimes it’s good to see what other people are saying. Often I read an article on a topic that interests me; think to myself, “That’s terrible advice” or “I have something to add to the discussion” and launch my articles from the same metaphorical dock. It’s not worth going parallel to others, so this is only a useful tip if you’re able to add your own twist.
option five is just walking away. Maybe your timing is off, your idea is out of date, or you need to go back to the drawing board. If I’ve exhausted the four options above and still don’t feel it, I take a big step back to re-evaluate. This could be like making myself another cup of matcha while thinking, putting it on my to-do list, sleeping on it, or riding my handbike around my neighborhood. There’s some justification for not feeling “inspired” unless it’s your excuse for days, weeks, or months. As it was for me.
I finally finished this article, and I used one version of each option to do this: I left my phone in the kitchen, but then I got distracted by an email notification. I drank matcha, then used my caffeine energy to start a load of laundry and fold some blankets. I looked at other people but got distracted by friends’ Instagram stories. I went away to call my dad, but then I got distracted when we hung up and forgot to come back to it. As long as you meet your deadlines, it’s okay to procrastinate a little. In the process, give yourself some grace and find what works for you. Until next time!
Kristin Beale is from Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt below https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.