Recently I saw a NaNoWriMo participant complaining of running out of inspiration. Their writing had hit a wall, and the lack of inspiration was to blame.
That strikes me as an odd and hugely misleading way to think about inspiration, like it’s a resource that can run dry. Truthfully it never runs dry.
Saying you’ve run out of inspiration is like saying you’ve run out of sights or sounds. You could become blind or deaf, but the sights and sounds are still present. There are visuals to look at and sounds to be heard, and they don’t run out – or at least they won’t run out during your lifetime.
Inspiration is much the same. It’s always present. It’s a collection of signals that are always broadcasting – all the time and on multiple channels. Inspiration never switches off. This resource is always available to you. For all practical purposes, it is infinite.
Just as you will never run out of sights to see or sounds to hear, you can never run out of inspiration. There is more inspiration available than you can possibly channel, even if you write, speak, or create 24/7.
When people can’t access inspiration, it’s like this scene from The Three Stooges:
Larry: I can’t see! I can’t see!
Moe: What’s the matter?
Larry: I got my eyes closed!
Moe pokes Larry in the eyes.
If you can’t access inspiration, the inspiration itself isn’t the problem. Those signals are broadcasting loud and clear all the time. The problem is with your equipment.
Inspiration and Brain Health
Almost always the problem is physical in nature. It’s a health issue.
You use your eyes and your brain to see light. If you can’t see anything when there is light hitting your eyes, that suggests a problem with your eyes or brain.
You use your ears and your brain to hear sounds. If you can’t hear anything when sounds are entering your ears, that suggests a problem with your ears or brain.
You use other parts of your brain to tune in to the flow of inspired thoughts and ideas. If you cannot perceive anything when you attempt to tune in, that suggests a problem with your brain. Something is preventing you from properly accessing this natural ability.
If you have a problem with your eyes or ears, you can go to a doctor to get diagnosed and treated. If the doctor is competent and the condition treatable, you may be in luck. Unfortunately doctors cannot cure all cases of blindness or hearing loss, and in some cases they cannot even agree on a diagnosis of the cause. Nevertheless, they still typically consider the problem to be physical in nature. Even if the problem is labeled psychological, it’s still a physical problem with the brain instead of the eyes or ears. Some part of the brain is preventing the signals from being interpreted correctly.
Many writers love coffee, tea, and other stimulants. Why? These substances temporarily change the brain’s normal functioning, which can make it easier to tune in to the flow of inspired ideas. It’s like an eye poke to force your eyelids to open. Of course if you rely on this method too much, it can be like getting too many eye pokes, which probably isn’t good for your long-term eye health.
Just as modern society can strain our eyesight and hearing, it can strain our inspiration circuitry even more. That flow of inspiration tends to be more sensitive to degradation when the brain is stressed, especially by poor diet, lack of exercise, and environmental toxins.
We don’t commonly hear laments about lacking inspiration from people who eat super clean diets, such as raw foodists. Hang out with such people for a while, and you’ll generally witness the opposite – an abundant flow of inspired ideas, available at all times.
Treat the Causes
When there’s a lack of inspirational flow, don’t think of it as a psychological or motivational failing. Don’t think of it as a self-discipline problem. See it as a health warning that you should take seriously.
Losing one’s ability to tune in to the flow of inspiration is the canary in the coal mine. It suggests that you’re heading down the wrong path health-wise. Your brain’s loss of ability signals danger. Treat this as seriously as if your eyesight or hearing starts to go. Your lifestyle is degrading your brain’s capabilities.
If I want to reduce my sensitivity to the flow of inspired ideas, that’s relatively easy. I can just eat more processed food , fewer whole foods, and fewer fruits and veggies. If I want to increase my sensitivity, I can stick with whole foods and eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies.
For a short-term boost, one or two green smoothies a day is great. A 45-minute cardio workout is also great because it rebalances hormones and neurotransmitters.
One of the most powerful habits for a high-functioning brain, especially when it comes to tuning in to inspiration reliably, is daily cardio exercise. A good minimum is 45 minutes.
If you ever run into writer’s block, try doing a one-hour cardio workout. Then drink a green smoothie (or sip on one while you write). Can’t do an hour-long cardio workout? That’s probably why you have writer’s block. If your body is that out of shape, so is your brain. Cardio doesn’t just exercise the body – it exercises and strengthens the brain too.
Our brains simply do not function well without regular exercise.
You may notice a difference in inspirational flow just from taking a day or two off from exercise. Take a week or more off from exercise, and the degradation of this natural ability will likely be significant.
For a really powerful long-term boost, eat 100% raw for a month or longer. The difference is undeniable. The cleaner your brain, the better it functions.
Maintain Your Inspiration Interface
Your brain is your interface for tuning in to the flow of inspiration. If you don’t maintain that interface, it’s predictable that you’ll run into problems with degraded performance. And if you’re already running into problems, there’s your invitation to permanently upgrade your health habits.
If your lifestyle involves feeding your body low-quality ingredients or disregarding your body’s need for regular exercise, creative blocks will serve to remind you that there’s a price to be paid.
Brain degradation is often cumulative. The longer you maintain habits that degrade your mental functioning, the more trapped you may become. You still have to use that same brain to work your way out of that trap, so don’t bury yourself so deeply that you can’t climb back up again.
Inspiration is a valuable personal resource. It’s a source of opportunity. It’s a way to connect with people. It’s readily convertible into other forms of abundance, including plenty of money if you so desire. But you need a properly functioning brain to intelligently leverage this resource.
One of the best decisions you can make is to permanently raise your health standards, and decide to never go back to a degraded level of functioning. Going vegan was a key turning point for me. Committing to regular exercise was another. I made both of those lifestyle improvements back in the 1990s. Those prior commitments are why my one-year blogging challenge for 2020 has been pretty easy. It’s straightforward to access the flow of inspiration every day – much like seeing and hearing – so I’m really just doing a typing challenge. 🙂
Struggling with creative blocks is like straining to see or hear. Step back and fix the underlying health issues. More strain isn’t a wise solution.
If your brain is healthy enough, you need never deal with writer’s block or other creative blocks. Or at least if they do arise, you know how to fix them. Imagine if you could just create, create, create as much as you want, whenever you want. Instead of trying to come up with ideas, you can enjoy the endless flow and dance with it as you please.
(credit: Steve Pavlina)