Every piece of writing worth reading requires inspiration. Without it, the whole event falls flat like open champagne bottles the day after a blow-out party. You might shake them up a bit and get some fizz, but the flavor is rancid and no one will believe you. When inspiration’s nowhere to be seen, it’s a better man who admits his empty hand.

However, writing in the absence of inspiration does have it’s pleasures. (It is our good fortune that life is generous in its compensations, even for losers.) Sometimes it is liberating to let go of all expectation and just write from the flatline.

I regard inspiration as a fickle and mischievous consort. She is wild and fleet and hard to corner. You might pin her down for a moment but she will outwit you and probably give you a kick in the teeth for good measure. You cannot see her coming or know when she will take flight. It is a waiting game: she names the time and place of your next rendezvous.

However, if you set yourself up to perform publicly (whether writer or musician or any other laborer who trades in inspiration), you must take a pro-active approach to the matter. Just sitting around and hoping that the muse will show will never suffice.

There are a few things I do to make myself worthy of her. First, I never complain about her not coming around. (This is Psychology 101: if you berate someone when they finally do what you wish, well, they won’t keep doing it.) I try to vary my schedule to give her different opportunities to approach: I set aside time for morning writing sessions, walks, café time; I do yoga, dance tango. You just never know when she’ll want to come round. I try to keep my mind free and uncluttered of superfluous things (like the news). I generally have some talismans around to get me in the mood. Necessarily, they are small things; it’s a peripatetic life after all. You can’t afford to get fetishistic about the preparations; nothing is also great inspiration (it’s just so BIG). Oh, and I always carry a notebook and pen.

It is a matter of preparing oneself, purifying the mind and spirit, doing one’s ablutions and bowing before a superior power. Ego is deception: no artist creates a thing. We all just receive what inspiration in her generosity bestows.

I just try to be standing in the right place.

Passionate observations from the creative journey. Get The Road Diaries delivered to your inbox each Sunday.

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