Inspiration, or something that looks remarkably like it

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Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it. – Jack London

People don’t worship the idea of inspiration as much as they used to, but as my friend Ron Drotos says, “Inspiration is real!”

Sometimes artists are inspired. When they talk about how inspired work they say, it hit me like a bolt and I knew exactly what needed to be done. The first draft was perfect and finished in record time. It was as if a divine force was guiding my hand the whole time.

That’s amazing and I believe them. However, it has never happened to me. Everything I’ve ever done has been hard work.

I’m willing to bet that’s not the case with most art and design. Most creation is an informed guess at what’s going to work.

You can make that guess better with sustained effort, practice and using your talents in the best possible way. But, no spiritual being can take credit for what you did, you worked hard to develop the tastes and abilities to make it happen.

Be grateful for inspiration when, or if, it occurs, but don’t depend on it. Don’t wait for perfection before you begin. No, as Jack London said, you have to go out hunting for it. And you know, you may never find actual inspiration.

But, you’ll find something that looks remarkably like it. In fact, so much like it that you can’t tell the difference between inspired work and what you’ve done. Your hard work is completely invisible, even though it was a struggle to finish.

So, don’t lay back waiting for an idea to just occur to you. Go out and hunt it down. You don’t need to use a club. In fact, I prefer to use a net when I hunt for inspiration. That way I can let it go when I’m done. It’s a kind of creativity catch and release. It’s much more humane, and someone else can catch it use it as well.


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