The Inspiration Fallacy

If you are a creative person or if you want to make money with creative endeavors, you are probably running into this age-old fallacy. You’re waiting for inspiration to strike you. To give you that ground-breaking idea. But you have it exactly backward.

You’re not creative

Maybe you are not aware, but I not only write on this blog, I also write non-fiction books, as well as I already wrote my first novel, and am writing the second one. So I am a writer. Fine. And people ask me how do I come up with these ideas for the books? How do I come up with the Quotes from the Conqueror? They focus on the wrong issue. The problem isn’t the ideas.

Lots of people sit around waiting for inspiration to strike them at any moment. They try to meditate, hit the gym, go for walks, to somehow force the brain to be creative. To have a huge fucking idea that will be the next Netflix hit or whatever you’re on about.

Creativity can not be forced mentally. It occurs while you take action.

The conqueror

And while I did have some ideas while doing these things, that isn’t where my best ideas happened. And even then, the idea really isn’t the problem.

Don’t care about ideas

I have a Google Doc with about twenty possible ideas of stories for novels I might or might not write at some point. I always thought I am just gifted to come up with such ideas. But I am really not. They’re nothing special. Literally anyone can write a novel. I truly believe that. Because you already have all the tools you need: You’re alive.

Look, ideas alone don’t sell. I can tell you I have an idea for a space opera story with the topic of transcending one’s brain into a robot. And all its implications. Cool, right? No. This has probably been written before, but I could still make millions with it. Why? Most art has already been done. Most ideas aren’t really new ideas. They’re ideas that have existed before, they’re either just re-interpreted, or put into one’s own words and worlds.

Lots of blog posts, Tweets, emails you see and receive aren’t really new content. They are existing ideas put into different words, made funnier, or explored deeper.

Sure, occasionally, someone comes up with something really new. But he might not be successful with it. Until someone “steals” the idea, puts his own spin on it, and suddenly it’s a blockbuster. Why do I tell you this? Your ideas, the things you search for so heavily and keep asking for the inspiration aren’t worth shit. What you really need is work.

a male fashion model

Work = inspiration

You just need to start. As I said, I have tons of ideas. That’s not really the issue. The issue is getting them into a story. Making them into an actual book. Bringing them into reality. That’s what’s really tough. And that is exactly where you see the difference between a successful author, and someone writing stories.

Man has the best ideas while his body is in movement.

The conqueror

You need to just start writing. When I wrote my first novel, I just started with a scene I had in mind. After I finished the novel 70,000 words later, I scrapped the start. It didn’t fit anymore. The inspiration for the story came along the way. George R.R. Martin said, for Game of Thrones he only had the idea of the first scene in mind. The Starks finding those shadow-wolf puppies at a river. That was it. He sat down, started with that, and in the process created the most successful TV show ever made.

Action > waiting

If you follow me on Twitter and especially similar accounts like mine, you know we’re all about action. Doing things. A man does things. He doesn’t talk about it, he does it. Getting shit done. This is business knowledge 101. Showing up is half the win. If you wait for inspiration to strike you, and then you put out 800 pages, then you’ll wait forever. Or you’re Roman McClay who did that with his book Sanction.

Yes, these people exist. But they are the exception. And the exception proves the rule. Just fucking show up. Start writing something, anything. Set out to write your novel, it will probably a shit story you don’t like. But along the way, you have an idea for an actual good story. So you switch to writing that.

The wise man finds balance between perseverance and letting time go to waste on the wrong path.

The conqueror

You need to deal with the fact that your idea might be fucking bad. Accept that. It might even occur to you after writing 20,000 words for it, that this story is boring and shit. Well, tough luck. Scrap it, write something else. Maybe at some point, you have an idea to finish it properly. Maybe not.

They point is that you act. Nothing beats action. Not even reading this blog post. If you want to be a writer like me, fucking just do it. Don’t wait for my permission or anyone’s. Don’t wait for the mythical creature called Muse or Inspiration to hit you with a plank. Action creates reality.

Against your head

I have a ton of drafts on this blog. Some I already started writing, some only have a headline. I have a rule to write at least one blog post each week. I haven’t broken that rule yet. Either I already have an “idea” for a post because I was currently in a specific topic, or reading something.

Or I just scan my drafts of things I had an idea once and then flesh that out. I don’t think about that before at all. Like this very blog post, you’re reading. That idea came after reading a post from Mark Manson about successful mindsets. I didn’t write down any notes, or bullet points. I had the idea of the “Inspiration fallacy”, clicked “New Post”, wrote that headline, and then I typed words.

And suddenly I am 1,000 words into this post without realizing it. THAT is the inspiration you’re searching for. You just have it backward. Inspiration, if we want to keep that term, doesn’t happen first. It happens second after you started. You need to rewire that in your brain.

Writing habits

You just need to create habits of just doing shit. I am sure most professional writers, artists, musicians, etc. don’t wait for inspiration to strike randomly. They just pick up the guitar and try a bunch of tunes. They pick up the brush and start drawing some lines. They open up Google Docs and start writing.

If man never puts his ideas out into the world, they will never become reality.

The conqueror

I inspire everyone to start their own blog. Remember, Twitter or Facebook or whatever can always ban you. Especially these days. You just need to offend a feminist because you say women want to be submissive, and you’re banned. Boom. Nobody can ban your blog. Your thoughts stay out there.

Get some cheap hosting, install WordPress on it, and start writing. A cool theme and design can come later. The content is the most important thing.

Along the way, you will start to enjoy the process of writing itself. You won’t care about inspiration or anything. You.just.write. That’s how everyone does it. That’s how you truly become a writer. And not someone who waits for it. Take action now.

–Alexander Reich

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